Orphanage turns around lives of FATA children

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Sweet Home is a joint initiative of Pakistan army and Pakistan Sweet Home – a welfare organization for children – the facility has been set up to provide quality education and recreational facilities to children, many of whom have lost their parents in violent acts of terrorism. (AN photo by Omar Daraz)
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Sweet Home is a joint initiative of Pakistan army and Pakistan Sweet Home – a welfare organization for children – the facility has been set up to provide quality education and recreational facilities to children, many of whom have lost their parents in violent acts of terrorism. (AN photo by Omar Daraz)
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Sweet Home is a joint initiative of Pakistan army and Pakistan Sweet Home – a welfare organization for children – the facility has been set up to provide quality education and recreational facilities to children, many of whom have lost their parents in violent acts of terrorism. (AN photo by Omar Daraz)
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Sweet Home is a joint initiative of Pakistan army and Pakistan Sweet Home – a welfare organization for children – the facility has been set up to provide quality education and recreational facilities to children, many of whom have lost their parents in violent acts of terrorism. (AN photo by Omar Daraz)
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Sweet Home is a joint initiative of Pakistan army and Pakistan Sweet Home – a welfare organization for children – the facility has been set up to provide quality education and recreational facilities to children, many of whom have lost their parents in violent acts of terrorism. (AN photo by Omar Daraz)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Orphanage turns around lives of FATA children

KOHAT: Eight-year-old Alman faced a bleak future after his father's death. The financial problems that followed the tragedy mean that his mother struggled to feed and clothe him.
But now Alman is safe and protected. He is one of the children to be given support at an orphanage, known as Sweet Home.
The facility, which was set up last month, is the first of its kind in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to shelter at risk children.
Alman says everything has changed for him since he started living at the "Sweet Home." “The center provides us with everything, including books, food and clothes,” he told Arab News. “We are not only being educated here but also encouraged to participate in sports activities.”
The orphanage was a joint initiative between the country’s army and Pakistan Sweet Home – a welfare organization for children. It provides quality education and recreational facilities for children, many of whom lost their parents in terrorist violence.
Peshawar Corps commander, Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmad Butt,  General Officer Commanding Major General Azhar Abbasi, and head of Pakistan Sweet Home, Zamarud Khan, inaugurated the orphanage in Mir Ali on February 21.
“Sweet Home provides education to 100 children,” the corps commander said at the inauguration ceremony. “However, this number will soon be increased to 200.”
“Mir Ali is just the beginning,” he added. “These centers will be extended to other areas of FATA. We also plan to set up a bigger and better Sweet Home, with a capacity for at least 1,000 children, in Peshawar,” he said.
FATA — an area that was formerly a hub for terrorists — lacks basic facilities such as schools, colleges and healthcare centers.
Following the launch of the military offensive, Operation Zarb-e-Azb, in mid-2014 in North Waziristan, militant networks were cleared from the region after a tough and prolonged operation.
The menace of militancy not only affected the daily lives of the people, but also deprived children of education in FATA, especially in North Waziristan Agency.
Syed Tanveer Hussain Shah, administrator of Sweet Home, told Arab News that the army had extended all possible support to establish the facility.
“The military conducted a survey along with the [tribal] elders of the region,” he said. “The elders shared the list of orphans with the army, and its officials discussed the issue with Zamarud Khan. That’s how the work began on the project,” he said.
Shah added: “There are 18 rooms in Mir Ali’s Sweet Home. Each room has four bunk beds and the facility is providing safe and happy environment to children.”
“Our teachers take care of us like our own mothers,” said Abdul Samad, a student at the facility. “We attend our classes in the morning, play games in the afternoon, and watch television in the evening.”
Shah said that the people of Mir Ali had been cooperative and had welcomed the initiative. For every ten children, he added, the center had kept one educated female maid. The army provides security to the center since it was located in an area that was still threat-prone.
Farzana Riaz, senior in-charge of Mir Ali’s Sweet Home, told Arab News that the facility has not only provided “uniform to these kids but also tracksuits for sports and general use.”


Blues artist Hindi Zahra pays tribute to her homeland

Updated 16 December 2018
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Blues artist Hindi Zahra pays tribute to her homeland

DUBAI: Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra recently bought her mesmerizing brand of music to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, where she performed as part of the Rain of Light festival on Friday.
Arab News caught up with the singer, who has been compared the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Patti Smith, before the show to find out more about her foot-tapping style of music and the album that her performances are based on, “Homeland.”
The Paris-based musician pays tribute to her home country of Morocco in the album, which features a mix of English and Amazigh-language tracks.
“It is the country that gave me everything,” the artist, whose stage name is simply her real name inverted, told Arab News.
“It gave me… mixed culture — African culture, Mediterranean culture. My openness toward other cultures comes from my Moroccan roots,” she added.
Hindi was raised on a steady diet of jazz, rock and blues, which she said her uncles collected due to a familial interest in international music.
That could be part of the reason why she is so comfortable performing in multiple languages.
“I am comfortable with both (English and Amazigh), but because I… grew up with a lot of Afro-American music, it was really natural for me to improvise in English.”
In addition to a clear appreciation and understanding of Western jazz and rock music, Hindi spoke fondly about a legendary Egyptian artist whom she said has inspired her.
Abdel Halim Hafez, who worked during the country’s golden age of entertainment between the 1950s to 70s, played an important role in shaping Hindi’s own style.
“I love the way he delivered feelings through music,” she said of the late opera singer who died in 1977.
Imbued with an appreciation for a wide range of international styles, Hindi released her first album when she was 30 years old — even though she says she was ready 10 years earlier.
She waited a decade so she could produce music on her own terms, under her own label, she said.
“I am shocked about the condition of women in the industry, so it was very important for me to be free and to own my music so nobody owns me.”
After all this, her only hope when it comes to performing is “that (the audience) will dance,” she said.
“If I see them enjoying (the) music to the point that they dance, this is the most important.”