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  • Writer's pictureMarium Nadeem

Exploring Karachi on the cultural bus

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

ConnectHear collaborated with Sair Sapaata to organise a tour for the members of the Deaf community of Karachi’s rich culture, history, and heritage.

In celebration of 23rd March – Pakistan Day, this deaf-inclusive cultural tour involved a group of more than 40 individuals who got to experience the beauty of historically significant sites all around Karachi. Despite having been residents of Karachi their whole life, some of our participants didn’t know key historic events majorly because of the deaf-hearing communication barrier that exists in our society.

The tour, headed by their tour guide and our sign language interpreters, shared every detail about these historical spaces that the city was once known for. All aboard curiously asked questions about the cultural and architectural heritage through sign language, which were conveyed to the tour guide by our interpreters.

Situated in the heart of Saddar, the tour kicked off with a visit to the Frere Hall followed by a visit to the Sindh High Court. We headed to Aram Bagh, meaning Garden of Ram, where stands amidst a park, a beautifully built mosque, and an abandoned temple. Our next stop was one of the most glorified landmarks of Karachi to this day – Empress Market. A Victorian-era marketplace, our team of sign interpreters briefed the travellers on its treasured history and the recent anti-encroachment drive.

Heading South to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, an architectural gem, our interpreters informed the group of the monument’s historical importance. Dazed and awed, each member admired its high ceilings, paintings, artwork, and iconic structure.

In conversation with Areeba, a Deaf participant, she expressed, “This is the first time I have gotten to know so much about our city and felt connected to it.”

She added how much she learned about before and after partition with the help of sign language interpretation which she was otherwise unknowing about.

The enthusiastic trip was not only a stepping stone in empowering the Deaf community but also a “liberating experience” as Farzana Shehzad, one of our Deaf participants, put it.

Having been a marginalised group in our mainstream hearing society, for a long time, this integral part of our community has had to live in their own bubble, owing to the difficulty of having to interact with the general public.

Somewhere between the street breakfast, travelling on the roof of cultural buses through the bustling streets of Old Town and unwinding history, ConnectHear achieved yet another milestone in making our cultural spaces more inclusive and accessible.

To learn more about this exciting adventure, here’s a video you can enjoy on our YouTube channel.

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