A Trip To Machar Colony

dsc_0044Yesterday Concern for Children Trust invited the press/media and journalists to cover an exhibition of art work and photographs created by the children of Macher colony. The artwork had previously been displayed in of a couple of exhibitions in different art  galleries in the city but only this time the display was where it had actually come from, the Macher colony it’s self.

When the Concern for Children (CFC) Trust informed me a month or so back that they had planed for such an exhibition in one of Karachi’s largest and most thickly populated Kachi Abbadi, an illegal settlement of over 700,000 people living way below the poverty line, I had no idea what I was to witness.

dsc_0037But yesterday the moment we entered this thickly populated colony in a CFC van I realized that this is an absolutely new environment, a whole living city tucked under the plush and beautiful superficial layers and folds of modern housing and shopping centers almost totally invisible, completely ignored as if it is not even a part of the same Karachi we all are so familiar of.

Small houses accommodating a family of eight on average, so small that our moderately luxurious kitchen, or bathroom would actually be much bigger. A colony by the sea harbor, built with hundreds and thousands of such small houses,  constructed out of cement and bricks on shallow foundations resting on the soft seaside sand, and some dangerously erect up to three stories high. The only water available for these people to drink, bath or wash is a mix of the city sewerage, and to cook a days meal dry wood is the only fuel.

dsc_0056The children you would see, out on the streets either sitting on a pushcart selling boiled chickpeas and tangy sauce from a small dish, a single serving is only a few spoons full, or playing in the sand roaming aimlessly in groups wearing shredded clothes, barefoot on the narrow dirt lanes, with floorings cushioned with garbage dumps and damp with sewage water. These children pushed out of their houses for the whole day long, as they can only but crumble-in to shelter from nights in their tiny homes. With a daily wage per person of Rs 200/- on average, what more can their parents afford.

In this colony CFC runs several schools and healthcare clinics. The schools are populated with mostly boys, Girls who study are in minority separate from boys. But these kids shall no way be underestimated. Their talent and creativity much pure and diverse then an average kid going to an expensive school city is clearly visible through their work of art,  with strong lines, compositions with calculated curves, well balanced lines vivid colors all well balanced. Their language may be different but not offensive at all and their behavior only playful with great respect to their teachers and elders was remarkable to notice. The potential in them is no doubt enormous, and they are to make a large segment of our future society. CFC has indeed given them hope and a guideline to follow to become a responsible citizen.

 dsc_0120But for how long can they afford to study, with financial pressure on their family building every day and age making work difficult for their parents to deal with, in time most of them quit schools for work to facilitate and contribute for the survival of their family. Sadly The nurturing of their talents come to an abrupt end at this point. Those who can continue to fight off the pressure and win over hardships are able to break the cycle and secure a better future for them selves and their family are only a few in number.

The health clinics run by CFC provide medical consultations to poor men, women and children but they are yet to win a complete trust of the majority of the people. The chlorine tablets distributed for cleaning their drinking waters are suspected to be contraceptives. Most of the childbirths are conducted by untrained midwives ( Daisz ) who have little, actually no concept of hygiene and sterilizing the equipment is out of question. The people do strongly believe in alternative medicine and even in witch craft. Sadly the medical science is looked at with skepticism in this by many in this colony.

dsc_0112bA huge population, living right under our nose, sharing the same city, breathing the same air but we don’t share and basics of living necessities, not even clean drinking water with them. We can solve all their issues if all of us don’t just buy that one tee-shirt which we didn’t needed but we bought it just to add to our wardrobe and instead donate the money  for people of  this colony instead, but do we ? No because we refuse to see them, we opt to be oblivious of them, of their issues, of their misery because not to think, is the easiest way to enjoy the luxuries of a good night’s sleep.

Corrections brought forward by the CFC Trust:

” Thank you for bringing attention to the cause of development in urban slum areas. I’d just like to make a small correction, while Concern for Children Trust supports schools empowerment through it’s art program, we do not run any of the schools in the colony-they are all privately owned and run.


In addition, CFC is always looking for ways to improve the scope of health care in the community and is currently seeking funding for a training program for traditional birth attendants. ”


We thank Concern for Children Trust for the Corrections.

For more information on Concern for Children Trust and how you can help, please visit their website: http://www.concernforchildren.org.pk

21 Comments so far

  1. zedem on February 23rd, 2009 @ 9:35 am

    Thank you for bringing attention to the cause of development in urban slum areas. I’d just like to make a small correction, while Concern for Children Trust supports schools empowerment through it’s art program, we do not run any of the schools in the colony-they are all privately owned and run.
    In addition, CFC is always looking for ways to improve the scope of health care in the community and is currently seeking funding for a training program for traditional birth attendants.
    For more information on Concern for Children Trust and how you can help, please visit our website at http://www.concernforchildren.org.pk

  2. fasee on February 23rd, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    burgers will come….coz there would be another meetign point…to kill time….overaged meem saabs’ will weep aligators tears on gareeb and gareebi.

    and dsicuss all that on there next kitty party…

    by teh way…agar in ko roti nahe militi tu yeh pastery kiyon nahe khatay..?? dieting chal rahi hai kiya

  3. بستنی (wasiq) on February 23rd, 2009 @ 11:07 pm

    kabhi aa nujawan muslim tadabbur bhi kiya tu ney….
    karachi main so many over aged meem sab kasey aaein…aur young meem sab kahan gaein..?

  4. fasee on February 23rd, 2009 @ 11:48 pm

    kabhi yeh atish bhi jawan huwa kertay thay.
    kabhi is seenay main bhi atish fishan rehtay thay

    aaj kaal the CNG ka pressure hi kafi kum aa raha hai…laodsheding shru hona kanotce ana wala hai

  5. concerned on February 25th, 2009 @ 5:53 pm


    chalo kam se kam burger bachay or meem ja kai thora sa paisa tu dai aain gi.

    What have you done lately?

    And munne get out of that pul kai iss par and uss par mentality, its all the same now. infact the roads and services are alot better everywhere except defence.

  6. kazimalam on February 26th, 2009 @ 2:51 pm


    I come from a humble background and in socialist terminology you can call me a working class member. A couple of years ago, I briefly worked at the Concern for Children Trust as Programme Assistant. I have NO sympathies whatsoever with the ‘class’ you seem to criticise in your post. Still I strongly believe that the CFC team is honest, hardworking, committed and sincere. They may come from a wealthy background, but what do you suggest they should do? Seek job in a bank or an ad agency as they have got degrees from the US? Of course they can easily do that since they have got both expertise and strong connections. Still, they have sacrificed lucrative careers in other fields to do social work, which is not so rewarding in monetary terms (if done honestly). Being there for sometime, I can safely say that every single penny that they spend is accounted for. So please, don’t stereotype people as broad generalisations are never correct. If you have grudge and resentment against the affluent class (just like me) then stand up against the system of capitalism and resist widespread privatisation and call for a socialist revolution. But castigating people who are trying to do something positive — that too contrary to their class character — will serve no purpose.

  7. fasee on February 26th, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

    Fasee lays down his poisen darts for a while to show his heart out.

    @ concerned.
    exactly..you said what i say to world around me….but what i do is for me only….jo kero dosray hath ko us ki khabar na hu…..aur jo kerta hoon chahy jaib say chahay hath say chahy khoon say…allah ka ahsan manta hoon kay us na is kabil banaya ke yeh ker sakoon….verna is qabil banana bhi us ke ikhtiyar mian hai kay dosray hamri madad ker rahay hotay

    @ Kazimalam
    maan, i partially agree with you, partially dont.

    first some clarification…..i am not from the lower or lower middle class…but alhamdulialh can be called a mamber of affulent class, but NOT the filthy rich class jis na haram say paisa kamaya hu….allah ka ahsan hai ke i have a cosy job, house, cars etc….but once i used to drive a phatphati, bagair karayee ke bus mian travel kiy akafi…bcoz karaya hi nahe hota tha…..khair….i still remeber what gharibi feels like..and i respcet and feel and work for it…not like tht meem saab class jis ko pata hi nahe garibi hoti kiya hai.,…not even the ones you talk about know how it feels to be gareeb.

    secondly….i wont argue..aap sahee keh rahay hu gay is NGO ke baray main…i wont argue as main janta naeh tu behas ker nahe sakta…alah karay aap wali sahee hu..bcoz most of the social workers i have seen, were ugly…really ugly people….name, fame nad money there driving force…..

    a manifestation of hypocracy…ya phir neglected / time passers ya time killers making up NGOs ..photo shopto banwaya…bakwas karoo TV news per aur ghar a ker 12 saal ki masi say plates dhulwaoo….bunch of ugly hypocrates.

    sir…agar aap wali NGO sahee hai still it would be just 5-6 honest ones out of 100 around here…..you work out what percentage it is safe for me to generalise or sterotype that scum called NGOs.

    PS: i honelty belive privitisation is a solution…Bhutoo ke nationalistaion abhi tak yeh koom bhugat rahi hai…but thats sokme difrence of opinion we can talk bout laters….as i know privitisation has its own de-merits..specially by our fat slimy seths runnign the shows

  8. odin on February 27th, 2009 @ 12:09 am

    I lived all my life in Karachi and don’t even know where this machar colony actually locates. Can anybody tell me here? And how come so many people living illegally in Karachi? Where they actually come from and how they enter into Pakistan? Should not they immediately be deported back to their respective country as they do it in Europe?

  9. Jamash (jamash) on February 27th, 2009 @ 12:54 am

    Why is it that when ever there is anything positive going on in the city we are very quick to find faults in it and oppose or criticize it without even checking the facts. And if you think all these NGOz are not doing any good, I ask you, what are you doing?…… It is very easy to put the blame on others but it takes courage to actually standup and do something.

    Odin: these people are Pakistani and they should be provided with basic facilities like clean drinking water, shelters and medical health facilities. Their only fault is that they don’t have any money and we don’t allow them to come up the social ladder, we want them there so we can use them to do our dirty work.

  10. odin on February 27th, 2009 @ 1:58 am

    jamash, I was watching a documentary about machar colony in which they said that most of the residents of machar colony were illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, so there.

  11. Jamash (jamash) on February 27th, 2009 @ 2:10 am

    there are a number of Bangladeshis in the colony but not all of them and I don’t think they are even in majority besides many Bengalis are Pakistani nationals.

    BTW I believe humanism is above nationalism, otherwise there won’t be any nationalism as well.

  12. odin on February 27th, 2009 @ 2:20 am

    jamash, yar I’m just reapeating what they said in that report, and everybody in Karachi knows that most of the Bengalis living in Karachi are illegal immigrants. Humanism is good, feed them clothe them but deport them also as soon as possible otherwise more kachi abadis more poverty more crimes.

  13. Jamash (jamash) on February 27th, 2009 @ 2:27 am

    Yeah. I would say It is better to regulate them, send them off or give them permits to work here. You know these Bengalis cant even report a crime if you rob them, or hurt them because for the system they don’t even exist, which is sad.

  14. fasee on February 27th, 2009 @ 9:15 am

    @ jamash

    bhai sab…aap ki takreer achi hai..dil ko chu jati hai..ik do ansoo bhi nikal atay hain…per kuch batain tu bataiyee.

    1) bangaliyon say hamdardi ker ke un ko shlter, pani, ghar , khana sab kuch dain…bcoz they were ONCE pakistanis…….kabhi yeh socha hai yeh bangali un behariyon ko pani tak ko naeh pochatay..who are STILL pakistani

    2) social ladder….yaar in logon ko bachay paisa kerna say fursta milay tu social ladder per charhain..salay ladder ke bajai her waqat bister sojhta hai….her jhoopri main 8-10 bachay her model ke ghoom rahay hotay hain

    3) koi apni takdeer nahee badal sakta jab tak aap khud razi na ho…are they a willign partenr….when they are given vocational trainings what is the ratio of attendecne in such trainings..?

    4) did anyone told them to come and settle into a machar colony..pehlay jaga gahir ker qabza ker lo..phir rona shuru ker do ke pani nahe hai bijli nahe hai..abay jhopiri lagaty waqat nahe dekha tha ke yahan tu bus bi nahe ati…..

    its like putting cart before the horse.

    oper sya hum emotional hu ker kehna shuru ker detay hina hai becharay hai becharai.


  15. بستنی (wasiq) on February 27th, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

    @fasee sab….dil buraa nahein karte….inn meem sab log ka abba childhood main bechardh giya hoein ga….uss ko doondney ka wastey jata hoein ga….burger log ka phopha kab se lost hai…woh is lian jata hai….aap aur hum khud hee lost hai…iss lian janey se pheley hee log darwaza pey ajata hai….apna apna kam karo baba…don’t waste your time….!
    !the bell rings at the door….aleluya!

  16. Jamash (jamash) on February 27th, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

    1) You are generalizing
    2) While we are the ones who have deprived them of education, now we don’t have a right to say that
    3) Coming to a vocational training camp means they wont get any pay for that day which will push them further into starvation.
    4) Did anyone showed them an alternative, you suggest they should have committed suicide so the precious land of yours could boast of another five star hotel.

    Make a difference, do something positive for the society which you are a very much part of if you can’t then let others do.

  17. fasee on February 27th, 2009 @ 7:52 pm


    bro, we are again missing the core points here

    1) when there are a couple hundred thousand victims of bengalis…and a hundred thiousand il-legal bangolis here…then its safe for me to generalise…

    2) how come we got the blame for there lack of education….bilawajah ke guilty conscious hoon jain…why…plz eloborate

    3)sir jee evening centres and schools bhi hotay hain…jis ne parhna hota hai usay plate me rakh ker denay ki zarorat nai perti

    4)how come we are blamed for all there follies….bachay ki fauj paida krenay ko hum na nahe bola tha….family planing wala bol bol ker thak gai..per salon ko bachay paida kerna ka ilawa koi kaam kerna ata hi naeh hai….us ke baad hamray sar hu jatay hain ke bhok hai bemari hai starevation hai…salay apna libido control me nahee rakh sakta…aur bojh uthain hum log…

    sorry bro…but these are hard facts..i may sound cold blooded….but these are ground realities…put blame where it really deserves to be.


  18. بستنی (wasiq) on February 28th, 2009 @ 7:17 am

    Bravo Bravoo clap clap standing ovulation….!

  19. بستنی (wasiq) on February 28th, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

    God bless america…!

  20. fasee on March 1st, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

    amrica ka kabrustaan afghanistan afghansitan.

    so says the jamiteyaa chu*%&*

    but i culdnt dare ask them where is the kabrustan of our beloved pakistan

  21. بستنی (wasiq) on March 1st, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

    watch BBC they are focused on the mutiny of our lost bounty….!

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