In Karachi’s Al-Asif Square, a nieghbourhood where most of the residents are Afghan refugees, the UN Refugee Agency on Monday established a skills development centre aimed at providing artisanal skills training to women to help them become economically self-reliant.
Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, the UNHCR representative in Pakistan, inaugurated the centre while representatives from the Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (AHAN), an organisation supporting micro and small enterprises across the country, the FnkAsia, a fashion brand helmed by designer Huma Adnan, and elders from Afghan refugees’ community, also attended the ceremony.
The initiative, whose statement of cooperation was signed between the UNHCR and the FnkAsia in June, will teach refugee women how to make crafts and how to market their products. One hundred vulnerable women will receive skills training in handmade embroidery, home decoration items, thread-work, tailoring and jewellery making. The AHAN is implementing the project with FnkAsia.
In addition to training, materials, equipment and machinery will be provided under the six-month project. All trainees will be provided tool kits or sewing machines so that they can work after the training ends.
“A project like this will have a great impact on the lives of these vulnerable people. Such an initiative will improve the income-generating capacity of refugees,” said Menikdiwela. She said these sessions would not only help make refugees self-reliant in Pakistan, but it would also improve their future economic prospects upon return to Afghanistan.
The training curriculum focuses on improving the quality of the crafts produced and enhancing refugees’ marketing and business skills. The UNHCR will support the refugee women with market exposure so they are able to understand current market trends in order to improve their work. An exhibition to link the artisans with national markets will be arranged.
Huma Adnan, owner of the brand, said that the main aim of this collaboration was to arrange skills training of the refugees and promote their products along with creating livelihood opportunities for them during their stay in Pakistan. Pakistan continues to host 1.39 million Afghan refugees, according to the UNHCR. Some 63,000 of the refugees are residing in Sindh, mostly in Karachi.