Considering the kind of negative news that Pakistan finds itself in almost on a daily basis, many of us complain about it and even more of us plan for possible exits from the country. Not Sadiqa Husain. She decided to take positive action and do something that conveys the positive image of Pakistan to the world. That is the thought that gave birth to ‘Tali’, a handicrafts store that sells unique souvenirs for foreigners to take back from Pakistan, especially Karachi.
“We travel a lot and everywhere I go I pick up gifts and souvenirs for friends and family. That is something I always thought was lacking in Pakistan. When people come to Pakistan from abroad there are no readily available souvenirs. Apart from Zainab market there are really no places to get memorable items. And even the products available are usually of very poor quality.” About ten years ago Sadiqa decided to bring together craftsmen and artisans who will create high quality souvenirs for foreigners to take back home and have a positive memory from Pakistan in their homes. The initial challenge was to find good people to work for her. There is nothing like a ‘yellow pages’ for these sort of craftsmen so she had to do her own hunting and negotiations. “First I would buy whatever they were selling, incorporate the design and make something new. I was able to gain their trust that way,” Sadiqa told us. “As first generation Pakistanis it is our responsibility to take ownership of our country, project a positive image, and support local craft. It is so rewarding for me when the craftsmen tell me that they do the most amount of work for me.”
For Sadiqa, every time an artisan working for her sends her a gift as token of appreciation, it is a Miracle Moment. “It’s a huge things for me,” she says. “It makes me feel like they always want to do more for me than I can do for them. I think these are miracles of humanity.”
Sadiqa credits her mother for teaching her that everyone deserves respect. “In our house my mother always made sure that when a new cook or maid was hired they were properly introduced to everyone. It made us realize that everyone’s work is unique and has to be respected.” She goes on to say how women in Pakistan need to be supportive of each other. “Sometimes I feel that women themselves don’t understand how they are undermining their own value. Why do mothers give more importance to sons, or ask sisters to serve brothers? They need to raise everyone to be independent and equally worthy.”
Sadiqa talks about her weak moments as times when she lost close loved ones like her father and father in law. But she believes in not letting life bring anyone down. “Life always moves on and that’s the only way forward. Be positive.” Women across Pakistan can learn from her journey that beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from every kind of negativity.