A few years ago my old friend Asma Khan from the Satrang Gallery in Islamabad told me the TCF story. It inspired me so much that I gathered together a group of women in my hometown of Milan who share my conviction that all girls have the right to go to school. We pooled our resources, time and effort, and began to visit Pakistan to see for ourselves. These visits led to our organized support for the outstanding work of The Citizens Foundation, whose schools teach disadvantaged children the very principles that we hold so dear: the importance of female education, the promotion of tolerance and open-mindedness, provision for quality teachers, assistance for mentorship programs, the construction of educational institutions for the most needy, and approaching literacy in a professional manner: with heart and efficiency.
TCF is a network of nearly 1,500 formal schools across Pakistan sustained on philanthropy. It is the largest private employer of women in the country with 12,000 female teachers and principals.
We started supporting the schools in 2010 and in asking for funding from others, we noticed that one issue was hindering our efforts: a general lack of knowledge and understanding about Pakistan and negative perceptions of it.
A friend suggested that the message about this extraordinary Pakistani NGO might be shared more successfully through the country’s dynamic and groundbreaking art scene. The Milanese are wonderfully curious consumers of art and culture, who love to see new offerings; and furthermore Italian design is celebrated the world over. So three years ago our dream idea was born, inspired by a similar event held by our sister organization in Dubai: why not create an exhibition and charity auction of contemporary Pakistani art right here in Milan? We were fortunate in finding our partner the Museo Diocesano to house and help promote the show, Natasha Calandrino Van Kleef to design and mount the display, and above all two truly outstanding curators, Salima Hashmi and Rosa Maria Falvo, who have worked tirelessly to attract an impressive list of participants and present a fascinating show for our Milanese audience.
This exhibition aims to enrich viewers’ understanding of Pakistan and the remarkable work its artists are producing right now. Their artistic explorations help unveil an ancient, rich and varied culture whose challenges have fomented creativity and beauty, as well as thought-provoking commentary.
11th October 2018: Invitation-only Gala Charity Auction of the works of 60 Pakistani contemporary artists at the Palazzo Serbelloni, Milan
16th October 2018: Inauguration of “Art for Education: Contemporary Artists from Pakistan” – opening at the Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini, in the presence of Mushtaq Chhapra, former Chairman of The Citizens Foundation