Special puppet shows “Bachpan Nagar ka Qissa” at PNCA

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ISLAMABAD: /DNA/ – Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) has organized two days special puppet show to create awareness on child protection, mental health and climate change. National Puppet Theatre is presenting message oriented puppet shows since last four decades to keep alive and promote traditional puppetry on one side and create awareness on various social issues and their solutions on the other side.

Three new puppet stories with beautiful music, artistic set and props, animated colorful back projection on rod puppets have been presented by National Puppet Theatre & Children Art Workshop of Pakistan National Council of the Arts in collaboration with Secour Islamique France (S.I.F). Secour Islamique France (S.I.F) is working in Pakistan since 2010 in field of hygiene, sanitation, provision of clean water, food security and children’ s rights. S.I.F is working in less developed areas for orphan children and their mothers. Mr. Altaf Abro, Head of Mission of S.I.F.  took initiative in 2021 to create awareness on social issues through puppetry in collaboration with PNCA. Since then PNCA and S.I.F has presented theme based puppet shows for children and elders to enlighten them over collective responsibility of financially sound families to help those who are deprived of financial and basic necessities of life, importance of education for girls and boys equally, ways to earn livelihood through small level business, skilled works and entrepreneurship.

This year, PNCA and S.I.F have decided to present special stories on the current era’s challenging issues which include alarming increase in child abduction, rape and killing cases, rise in mental diseases and climate change. Before presenting the puppet show, panel discussion on child protection were held wherein the guest speakers Muhammad Ayoub Jamali, Director General  and Ms. Shabana Ashraf, Dy. Director PNCA   discussed the role of PNCA in bringing awareness on social issues through various art forms including puppetry. Mr. Jamali  suggested to work in close liaison with various government organizations, NGOs and INGOs established for child protection. He expressed his great concern over the rising ratio of child abuses and non reporting such cases by the parents and victims.

Ms. Shabana Dy. Director, PNCA emphasized on need to realize effective role of art and culture in shaping the society, enlightening masses  over the social issues and their solutions through puppetry, stage plays, exhibitions and workshops.  Mr. Imtiaz Khalid Soomro, Guest Speaker from SAHIL has discussed the relevant law provisions for child protection and criminal clauses and sentences in laws for addressal of grievances of the victims. He informed even law provides remedy for bad touch. Ms. Rabia Haider, Director General of Child Protection Institute (CPI) discussed the ways to create awareness on the issue, role of parents in encouraging their children to discuss with their parents and seek guidance from them in case if they are facing any kind of harassment.

Ms. Feroza Zahar, Country Program Manager and Dr. Fouzia Farooq, writer of the puppet story, “Bachpan Nagar ka Qissa” discussed the elements of hesitation and resistance among parents, guardians and elders to report the matter in case if their child is abused physically, sexually or mentally. Dr. Fouzia Farooq also shared her hesitation to writer a script on the matter which is considered as Taboo in the Society. After panel discussion, PNCA presented special puppet show wherein the main story, “Bachpan Nagar ka Qissa” on rod puppets with animated, visual graphics, artistic set designs was presented. The story revolves around the children, their parents and three evil characters lalchi, jhansa and drawa. In various situational scenes drawa, lalchi and Jhansa attempt to trap children but they fail because their parents have guided them to say NO to any offer given by strangers, refuse to go away with stranger, avoid physical touch with elders, resist black mailing. 

The other special story, Mujhay Ooncha Urna Hai” was based on Puppet Character of Shani who was facing some mental stress and depression  due to non sharing of his feelings with others, lack of communication and excessive use of mobile phone, internet and social media apps. However, his teacher arranged a counseling with psychologist who guided him to explore his hidden talent. Shani won the song competition held in his school after overcoming his mental stress.

Third story was presented on Climate change whereby Babu, Pappu (glove puppets) and fairy enlightened the audience regarding the causes of climate change which include deforestation, increasing population, smoke and chemicals emitted from factories, vehicles, crops leftover burning, usage of polythene and plastic bags are causing raise in temperature on earth which are major cause of climate change. Climate change has become a challenging issue which is causing melting of glaciers, flash floods, strong windstorms on one side, and low level due to low rains which is tuning the green lands into barren lands. Fairy has told the audience to install filter plants in factories, use petrol instead of diesel and  do plantation, increase forest area upto 25% to combat climate change. 

PNCA and S.I.F also organized national songs competition among orphan children to encourage them to learn and excel in singing. Pot competition among widows was arranged to encourage widows and orphan children to use their skills for  as an earning source through making decorative products.  Around 400 audience attended the show, audience and guest speakers applauded the contribution of PNCA and S.I.F in presenting the special puppet show to create awareness on child protection, mental health and gravity of the climate change which will engulf our lives in coming years if no corrective measures are initiated in time.