Power of Facebook: Art from Pakistan
I got to know Uzma and her husband, Naveed, after I received a Facebook message asking to have a meeting together. We met up for coffee one day and she shared her story and passions with me.
Uzma and her family have been in Hong Kong for the past 5 years after leaving Pakistan because of persecution of their faith. Leaving everything behind, including jobs as an engineer and manager at a textile factory, they fled Pakistan with their young son to Hong Kong for safety. Being a minority group under the Muslim religion, it became dangerous for her family to continue to stay in Pakistan. Buying a ticket to Hong Kong, they left everything behind to pursue safety. When they landed in Hong Kong, they entered the long wait for the UNHR to process their application.
There are over 12 400 refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong. Many come from places of conflict, persecution, and often are lost and destitute with nowhere to go to and no one to seek out. The average waiting period for a claim to be processed and considered from seeking asylum to refugee status is 7 years. During this process they are not allowed to work. Since 2005, only 55 asylum seekers have received refugee status, meaning they are now eligible to be considered for resettlement by the United Nations. This is far below the global average of 30%. In the waiting, life continues.
As life continues, Uzma has been busy. Not only is she actively involved in Christian Action, she also partners with local schools in teaching about Pakistani culture. She is also a strong advocate for her husband, Naveed’s art.
A glimmer of hope in this long wait, Naveed has had an opportunity to find solace in art. Feeling stuck in Hong Kong, where he is not allowed to work and unsure about where he will live in the future, he has found comfort and energy from creating art. Having always an interest and appreciation for art, Naveed focuses on Pakistani textile painting. With his steady hands, he creates beautifully intricate designs that often contain floral and animal themes. Everyday he creates. One of his recent works has been a mural at Christian Action. He also has been teaching classes to university students more about textile art.
Recently, Barefoot Love Collective and Naveed held a workshop at MakerHive.
Together, people had an opportunity to learn more about how to create their very own textile prints through the use of stencils, paints, and lettering. They also learned more about the everyday for refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong as well as how they can make a difference as well. It was a fun night of coming from all sectors of society, learning and creating together!
100% of the profit from this workshop sponsors the work that Christian Action does to empower and help refugees in Hong Kong.