Nargis Latif, known as the angel sent back from heaven by God. She not only provides shelter for the homeless but she is also doing our environment a favor by using recycled materials and rubbish. Materials like plastic that is burnt after use or thrown into the sea which results into damaging our environment and causing more pollution that is a total and utter environmental disaster.
Nargis has been granted a second life by God to make Karachi a better place for living. All the doctors gave up on her and even the best doctors could not diagnose her, most thought that it was probably blood cancer. She was on her death bed when she prayed to God that either He saves her or kills her but don’t let her hang in the middle. She started crying after this and she believes that it was that moment when God answered her prayers. Slowly and steadily her condition started improving and she made a promise to God that she will make this world a better place.
Nargis Latif is the CEO of an organization called Gul Bahao which focuses on making this environment clean and pollution free as well as discovers new ways and ideas to improve the economy and to make life easier and cheaper. According to Gul Bahao:
We refuse to acknowledge an important law of nature i.e. recycling; according to which there is nothing useless in nature not even human waste.
This first Pakistani waste management center have come up with the following measures to make our environment livable and pollution free:
- Wastic blocks and panaflex panels (alternative housing)
- Instant compost
- Water purification method
- Fuel Pack
- Fodder for cattle
- Mobile toilet
- Safai/Kamai Bank
Nargis has been leading Gul Bahao for almost thirteen years now and she leads army pickup trucks that roams around the city everyday collecting garbage to convert it into something productive. Karachi produces 12,000 tonnes of garbage everyday and Nargis believes that it can be used into something useful and beneficial for people in need. Garbage is used to create houses, water reservoirs, fodder for livestock and instant compost.
Their first biggest success was Chandi Ghar, a house made of recycled waster in 2005 for the earthquake victims as shelter. Now they have built 150 Chandi Ghars across Pakistan. These houses are made from Was-tic blocks. These block are made from dry material compressed into wooden framed that serve as alternate building material, even portable furniture and cushions. These houses are a blessing for the homeless, someone who needs shelter and who have limited or no water supply at all.
Gul Bahao has come up with many interesting innovations like Instant Compost that is made from wet garbage, vegetable and fruit peels and leaves are ground, then dried to make organic compost. The Mobile Toilet is a big-size carton that can be used as a cubicle for the purpose of a toilet or a bathroom on unpaved ground; it can also be folded and kept aside. Paaki Paani is used transparent plastic or glass bottles filled with tap water are kept in the sun for a couple of hours (three hours at the maximum) to get water that is germ-free, yet retains the mineral content.
As much as it is a noble deed for the homeless it is not easy to convince them to live in it as they say that these house are made from garbage and they do not want to live in garbage. Whereas the material that is used especially the plastic is clean for sure. But, it is difficult to change the assumption that the material they are using is actually clean and they will not be sitting or living in garbage. She believes that this is the result of universities and institutions lacking in research and they do not focus on it as much as they should.
She has brought in the kabbadias (garbage men) into this business and thinking that they can provide her with good recyclable products and they can be brought in for commercial use. She met with hundreds of them and paid good money for the products they brought like: plastic bags, cardboard, glass, metal, paper and even fruits and vegetables peels. Her idea was a success and the business of kabbadias evolved into a healthy business as they were bringing material that was worthwhile.
Nargis tells Dawn:
These young people are barely educated but are very intelligent and have the street smarts to understand the utility of a particular kind of garbage. Together with my penchant for conducting research and their intelligence, Gulbahao has invented many cost effective products that are useful in our daily lives.