May the peace of God almighty be upon you! I hope this letter of mine finds you in the best of health and spirits. In the first place please accept my heartfelt gratitude for helping in promoting the cause of Gul Bahao through your esteemed TV channel before assuming your latest responsibilities at the United Nations. This letter is in fact an appeal to you to use your good offices to further the cause of this movement, one of whose objectives is conducting research into waste management. The results have been fantastic to say the least and must be shared with the international community considering that we as Muslims and Pakistanis are duty bound to share our knowledge for the good of mankind. Sir, let me pause here and recall how it became possible for Gul Bahao to come up with its two classic innovations-the Chandi Ghar and the Safai/Kamai Bank (known as Garbage N Gold Bank). As you are aware research demands money and a great deal of it for that matter. To date more than 8crore rupees have been spent (only in 2002,1 crore and ten lacs were spent according to audited accounts). This was the time when for an entire decade the world thanks to the aggressive policies 0f Mr. Bush and company was embroiled in the deadliest war of the world. As if to create a soft corner for this war millions and trillions of dollars poured into our country especially Karachi. Certainly, getting hold of the money was no joke, but the fact remains that it came and was wisely used by us for:
- A socioeconomic revival
- Controlling environmental degradation while allowing industrialization to flourish
- To attract the educated youth towards research activities.
No doubt Gul Bahaos innovations have been getting coverage in the press but the approach at best has been superficial. Both the Chandi Ghar and the Safai/Kamai Bank are totally in sync with 21st century requirements. In fact most of the material used in the Chandi Ghar is high tech material. Let me describe to you the “Kutchra do Sona Lo” campaign. For two years a fleet of vehicles including trucks and pickup vans carrying young men were meeting junk dealers and motivating them to trade in garbage by giving them cash and gold. So successful was the campaign that it brought into existence a new breed of businessmen who started providing cheap raw material to industries and despite the endemic violence that keeps taking place in Karachi its economy keeps growing. The impact of the Safai mein Kamai system can be gauged from the fact that its slogan “You give us garbage, we give you gold” is a household slogan in this metropolis of more than 15 million people .The Safai mein Kamai Bank is truly the bank of the future where the instruments of banking is waste material. It is difficult to say which of the two innovations Chandi Ghar or the Garbage N Gold Bank is going to have a greater impact on the international scene. Briefly the Chandi Ghar is a modular block whose uses are multipurpose. The same blocks may be used to make a double storied houses to making a swimming pool, furniture including chairs sofas, tables etc. They are waterproof as well as strong enough to resist storms and gales. They are easy to put up and dismantle as well. As the name suggests they are splendid to look at. Sir, recent history tells us that a single innovation has been able to change the course of history, take the example of the steam engine, the computer and now the mobile phone. I am confident that Gul Bahaos innovations are going to do just that.
It may come as a pleasant surprise to you that there has been widespread recognition of our innovations. These include:
1. German nationals connected with the German embassy
2. Clinton Foundation and Ashoka (American NGO)
3. Articles written in Courier International (French) ,Hindustan Times (India)
4. Supreme Court of India
5. UNDP, UNESCO, World Bank
6. BBC CNN ZeeTV StarPlus
7. Included as a scientific organization in the directory of the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology. It has been covered by the mainstream print and electronic media of Pakistan
8. Have been written about in school level textbooks in both Urdu and English
9. 600 people visit our website on a monthly basis
10. Local bodies (including Nazims and Civil Servants) coming for training
11. University Students doing theses and assignments on our work
No doubt most of the gigantic work mentioned above can be claimed by me and my organization but it would be unfair not to mention hundreds of people throughout the length and breadth of Karachi who gave moral and material support especially the latter. These include:
1. Professionals like architects, engineers, teachers, lecturers, professors
3. Businessmen (including office bearers of Chambers of Commerce and Industry)
4. MPAS and provincial ministers
5. Universities, elite schools
6. Women who give zakat once a year.
In addition to this and the fact that Karachi has a peculiar geography(especially its arid climate ) has made the program truly unique and hence the slogan “Karachi’s gift to the world” Why use the word Karachi when people from outside Karachi as well as Pakistanis living abroad have supported it Answer one must not forget the fact that Karachi is one of the largest metropolises of the world and hence any innovation coming from here is bound to affect the world. At this stage when the country is going through a rough spell and people’s morale is at low ebb it is particularly important that the above slogan be raised. If these two innovations are publicized on the world forum they are sure to renew the country’s self-esteem and confidence. February 1 will the day when Gul Bahao will be completing 18 years of its existence. In other words it has taken a full 18 years for these innovations to develop and mature. And before I forget there have been claims by other organizations and persons to own these innovations. They have not been patented by us.
Sir, you have been putting your best efforts to project Pakistan’s case abroad. God willing you will also succeed in projecting Karachi’s gift to the World as well.”
With Best Wishes I end with the prayer “May the blessings of the almighty shower down on you”
An Open Letter to Mr. Hussain A. Haroon Pakistan’s Representative in the United Nations
Speaking to a packed audience of BBAs and MBAs at Newport University Karachi, the head of Gul Bahao trust Nargis Latif on Sunday declared that the concept of the Safai/Kamai Bank or Garbage N Gold Bank has arrived. this “Bank” in its rudimentary form is the back bone of Karachi’s economy. Describing the bank as a third world solution to first world problems she said it has attracted the attention of the world famous TV channel CNN. She said that both BBC and CNN held detailed discussions with her about it and were keen to cover it up as soon as its “Appearance livens up”. Nargis said that Karachi being the seventh largest city of the world can vie with any first world country of the world in terms of wealth and is an important factor behind Gul Bahao’s success. She revealed that Gul Bahao cashed into the free flow of money available during the Musharaf era and experimented with all kinds of material to produce goods and concepts of international significance. Using a team of 80 youths and a dozen trucks and pickup vans it went into the luxury of giving 24 carat gold to Kabarias and conducted a city wide campaign of “Kutchra Do Sona LO” to Kabarias to start the Safai/Kamai Bank. Somewhat digressing form her topic Nargis claimed that having spent crores of rupees on research (only in 2002 audited accounts revealed an expenditure of 1 crore and ten lacs for a single year), her organization has a blue print for any political party for revamping the entire economy of the country including cheap fuel for running power plants!
Going into the background of modern day innovations she said that they were in fact upgradations of traditional practices e.g. the traditional midwife has developed into an obstetrician, the grocery and provision shop has evolved into the supermarket. Tomorrows GNG (Garbage N GoldBanks) is in fact 21st century version of our Kabaria or junk dealer. Kabarias are minting money she said, despite the fact that they are totally illiterate. To the audience who were listening with rapt attention the CEO of Gul Bahao threw the question “Don’t you think education makes a difference?”, Nargis said that in order for the Kabaria to develop into a sophisticated Safai/Kamai bank its outward appearance must change. All the paraphernalia of the modern banking system like computers, air-conditioned hall etc. must be there. Most importantly,she said it must be located on main arteries of the city. Does any successful bank operate in any by lane (as in the case of Kabarias which come under the nomenclature of the informal economy, she asked once again. Nargis said,she was trying to get the academia interested in this kind of bank.
a) where the instruments of banking is recyclable industrial waste
b) which works on zero rates interest
c) whose profits are as much as that of any traditional bank
d) where always the current rate of different waste materials displayed on the notice board in the manner of money exchangers.
She said that LUMS was one University which had sought written permission from Gul Bahao for introducing the concept of the Garbage N Gold Bank in its Syllabus. It also awarded a research worker for her dissertation on this very subject i.e. the Safai/Kamai Bank. She revealed that some textbooks of secondary level have already included this and other work of Gul Bahao in their textbooks.
The speech truly fired the imagination of the audience who were all agog to know how their knowledge of business administration could be used for setting up the “bank of the future”.
Nargis Latif of Gul Bahao was invited as chief guest and key note speaker at a meeting of the Karachi Rotary club east. The topic of her speech was “Waste – A valuable resource”. Nargis Latif started her speech with Gul Bahao’s jingle, “Kutcra Sona Hey” which drew plenty of applause from the audience. She said that while on the one hand Karachi’s garbage has the potential to destroy the city, on the other hand it is a veritable gold mine, one indication being the cottage industry that it sustains.
The speaker presented a hypothesis of a Garbage n’ Gold (GnG) Bank where wet (organic) and dry (inorganic) garbage is bought. She said that Gul Bahao has researched all kinds of waste material being produced in the city and the GnG bank is the center of the scheme. Presently only dry garbage or non toxic industrial waste is being handled here. The GnG Bank has been performing the following functions:
1. Selling the bulk as raw material to middlemen and factories. It was pointed out that there are two markets Godhra and Machar Colony which are respectively taking cloth and polythene. All kinds of paper and cardboard are also sent out. Between March and July 2006 more than 30 lacs worth of wastage was sold out.
2. Waste material related to wood like wood shavings, broomsticks laminated paper, small bits of cloth; even dry twigs are used to make alternative fuel.
3. A good deal of the waste at the GnG bank includes shopping bags and other industrial waste. This lends itself easily to an entirely new concept of bricks called was-tic blocks to be used for prefabricated housing having the common name of “Chandi Ghar” These blocks can be put up in hours and dismantled just as quickly Nargis Latif showed dozens of photographs of houses made up of was-tic blocks to the audience. At this stage. Nargis suggested that a huge market for these prefabricated structures is the Haj season or any other religious occasion where temporary housing is required.
Nargis told the audience that while research on organic waste done by Gul Bahao is comparatively less yet the amount that has been done are worth talking about as organic waste comprises more than 50% of our waste.
Nargis said that the livestock market put up on the super highway at the time of Eid-ul Azha should be an indication of how much potential there is in livestock and hence the use of organic waste like vegetable and fruit peels and leaves. This wastage if collected in a clean manner can be used for rearing livestock in the suburbs of the city or wherever buildings cannot be erected.
The speaker also talked about biomass or trees growing on gutter water or even factory effluents which are polluting the rivers and the seas. For arguments sake even if poisons are taken up by the trees, their wood would not be eaten by humans, the wood would go into making furniture. Towards the end there was a question answer session, followed by a vote of thanks from Mr. Iqbal Alavi, the secretary of the Rotary Club. A memento was also presented to the managing trustee of Gul Bahao.