An image fromt he exhibition of a young pakistani girl in the sftermath of the disaster. Photo courtesy of Five Pillars.
Two men from High Wycombe heard news of the Earthquake in Pakistan on October 8 2005. Within five days they had raised £40,000 from their local community and made their way to the country in crisis with food, clothes and blankets.
Wycombe museum is hosting a new exhibition by Arif Hussain and his nephew Dr Nisar Yaseen, founders of the charity Five Pillars, (www.fivepillars.org), which runs from April 10 until May 22 2006. The exhibition shows photographs and artefacts from the scene of last years devastating earthquake including everyday items found crushed and buried in rubble such as a woven reed plate, a prayer mat, a bed post and ceremonial wedding necklaces.
An extract of a photo in the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Wycombe Museum.
With a large Pakistani community in High Wycombe, the charity has attracted much attention and compassion from local people. The aims of Five Pillars is not only to provide disaster relief in the way of food, clothes and shelter, but also to provide youngsters with a comprehensive education until at least the age of sixteen.
“I think there’s so many awful things happening all around the world and, if there’s something we can do to help, it’s good for us,” says Dr NisarYaseen. “It’s good for those who need help, and it is good for the people who help.”
Among the extensive work the charity has performed in the country was ‘Camp City’, a makeshift camp set up near Islamabad where people affected by the disaster could come and stay for free, and a field hospital that Dr Yaseen, a doctor of medicine, was directly involved in setting up.
Visitors to Wycombe can also see a film made a s part of the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Wycombe Museum.
The hospital was set high up in the mountains with only Dr Yaseen, one other doctor and three nurses working in two tents. One of the tents was used as a clinic and the other was used to perform any operations that were possible in the conditions.
Both museum staff and the Dr Yaseen hope to appeal across the board to High Wycombe’s multicultural community. “And we really want children to come and see it,” says Dr Yaseen. “I think it is very important for us to share what is going on thousands of miles away and show children here how that impacts their local community. It is a way for them to connect with what is happening that isn’t just through a TV screen.”
Another example of exhibited work. Photo courtesy of Wycombe Museum.
As a Family Friendly museum, the question of how youngsters will respond to the exhibition has been a factor for the staff at the museum. “We have chosen not to exhibit some of the more harrowing images for that reason, but also because we wanted to reflect a balance,” says Catherine Grigg, Collections and Interpretations Officer at Wycombe Museum.
“Some of the images are very positive, showing people moving on, and young people taking part in projects that have been set up for them. It shows life going on and we think it is a very positive thing to show to the multicultural audience in High Wycombe.”
Nicola Tann is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance Student Writer for Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.