The dream of Hajran

 By Simonetta Sandri

Anything is possible with determination: if this is joined by enthusiasm and creativity, the job is done! Back from Pakistan, this time we’ll tell you how to  get what you want. To take Hajran by the hand…She is a young woman coming from the province of Sindh, one of the most disadvantaged communities and  second most populous in the country, with 29 districts, seeing through  her eyes how life can be changed by devoting yourself to a passion, to  a dream. Read to believe…

Hajran is twenty years old and, thanks to the intervention of Eni Pakistan Ltd, she is giving her life a real turn.  Growing up is never easy, but the place where we were born and the opportunities we are offered make a difference. There is a time when you need to try, to struggle to emerge, to seize the moment. You have to get on the train during its journey. The opportunity for Hajran came at the sewing and embroidery training centre founded by Eni in Pakistan, with the support of the local NGO Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), an organisation committed to promoting equal opportunity, dignity and rights for  communities of fishermen. The centre is part of the sustainability projects set up by Eni Pakistan Ltd along with PFF in the Sujawal district, in Sindh province. This landmark for professional training is located in the town of Jati, within the district of Sujawal, where women of the community in the area where Hajran lives, are provided with the opportunity to attend free training courses to fight an 80% rate of early school leavers.

The opportunity for Hajran came thanks to the centre founded by Eni Pakistan Ltd

Sewing and embroidery are not just activities reminding us old fashion women: many of us enjoyed watching our own grandmothers placing a light foot on the pedal of an old green, and at times  a little rusty “Singer” while telling us of their childhood adventures. It can be a tool for releasing creativity. Nowadays, Pinterest and Tumblr are full of images and blogs on embroidery which disclose colours, energy, laughter, flair, imagination and with a hint of etno-chic touch.

Sewing, as a textile art and technique joining two parts with a needle and a thread (joining, what a beautiful meaning), goes as far back as the Palaeolithic era, while embroidery, more recent, is the execution of decorative stitches. The former is the art of putting together different parts, the latter is a more artistic endeavour. A feminine genius in action, then, for joining and creating. Art has also often celebrated the beauty of embroidery. Just think of Vermeer’s The Lacemaker, dated 1669-1670, currently in the Louvre museum.It is also worth to recall the intense and vaporous brushstrokes, in  the painting “Girl at a Sewing Machine”, 1921 by Edward Hopper.. There are many examples in painting, from Renoir’s superb 1882 canvas Marie-Thérèse Durand-Ruel Sewing, to the more squared Women Sewing by Renato Guttuso (1947). But we’ll stop here, and return to our Hajran Thaeem, who in her own way she also looks as an “object of art”. Her long black hair wrapped in a candid white headscarf. Her sweet and amber face is beautiful. After attending the Government Boys Primary School (GBPS) Mughal Been Jati, with blue doors in harmony with flowered majolica entrance, Hajran risked to stop studying: her parents were not rich enough to ensure continuity of her educational and professional development. But her desire to build something was stronger than any obstacle.

Hajran at work with ther sewing machine

From some friends’conversations, she hears about Eni’s initiative offering free enrolment on professional courses for young women in that area. Hajran registers immediately at the centre in Jati and completes a short three-month course, along with other girls. This was at the beginning of 2016, the classroom was packed and the colours of the carpets, fabrics and threads twisted on cardboard spools go along with the “voices” that ideas seem to make. Clothes hanging on the walls. Pencils scattered here and there.

From that moment she began to embroider and sew at friends’ home, not having her own sewing machine. From her daily work, in addition to experience, she begins to get a deserved little gain:  in a few months, as she meticulously repairs fabrics and dresses of various shapes and colours, she has enough money to buy her own precious work tool. She works on the clothes of friends, acquaintances, relatives and neighbours and eventually achieves her own little autonomy. “After completing primary school,” she says, “I was dependent on my family and today I am economically independent, not only because can I manage my personal expenses, but also because I can contribute to the family budget; this makes me happy, and proud. One day I dream to attend the famous embroidery tailoring centre in Karachi, the Pak-Korea Garment Technology Institute, to be more fashionable “If you can dream it, you can do it,” I’d tell her, echoing Walt Disney.  Today she sews to create clothes or scarves, producing beautiful and unique artefacts, to send messages. She has many models in her head. Tomorrow she could even make her own collection and have fans. Who knows. The atmosphere is warm with limitless colours.  The Internet has infinite power. Imagination too. This is also empowerment.

SEE MORE: When water creates jobs by Simonetta Sandri

about the author
Simonetta Sandri