ISLAMABAD - Islamabad-based non-governmental organisation, Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA), organised a two-day Christmas Charity Bazaar, which attracted visitors from far-flung areas.

“Women’s economic empowerment can help improve their social status and needs to be supported at all levels,” said Yasmin Akhter, COO PODA at the conclusion of a two-day event. She said rural women artisans from minority community need special recognition and incentives because they face greater hardships in the society compared to others.

For the last two years PODA has been organising Christmas Bazaar to show solidarity and promote inter-faith harmony. The two days event brought together Christian and Muslim women artisans from rural areas of Chakwal, Rawalpindi and Islamabad who were given the opportunity to sell their handmade products as unique Christmas gifts. Rural women artisans sold their handmade crafts such as jewellery, Christmas ornaments, unique items and many more Christmas gifts along with music and home cooked food. There was also a room for children to make Christmas cards for visitors. Proceeds from the bazaar will benefit rural women artisans. “It is very interesting experience to see the products made from recycled plastic bags” said a visitor. A woman artisan from Barakahu said she is teaching this skill to new students and earning her livelihoods.

“Ten years ago I had never picked a paint brush in my life but today I am a master artisan and teaching other rural girls how to be creative and become economically independent”, said Deeba Rana who was working as artisan at work at the event.

The women artisans selling the crafts were also happy that many visitors were appreciating their handmade items. “I am happy that our bags made with used plastic bags are so popular”, said Farida from Chakwal.

PODA also organised a Children’s corner at the bazaar where a happy Santa Claus greeted the guests and gave gifts to visiting children. During the two days bazaar, PODA also collected donations.