Google honors Perween Rahman with Doodle, a Pakistani social activist, architect, and urban planner who dedicated her life to improving the lives of vulnerable people.
Google always pays tribute to legends of Pakistan by changing the doodle of the country’s homepage, from paying tribute to legend Abdul Sattar Edhi to Pakistan Day Google always shows respect and participated in big days of the country.
Who was Perween Rahman?
Perween Rahman was a community activist in Pakistan and the Orangi Pilot Project Research and Training Institute director, a Karachi-based development NGO.
Perween was born in Dhaka, then in East Pakistan, on January 22, 1957. After the fall of Dhaka as a teen, she relocated to Karachi and earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Dawood College of Engineering and Technology. In 1986, she earned a Postgraduate diploma in housing, construction, and urban planning from the Institute of Housing Studies in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
She worked for a private architecture business before being hired as the Joint Director of the Orangi Pilot Project by Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan in 1982, where she supervised the housing and sanitation programs. Perween became Director of OPP-RTI (Orangi Pilot Project – Research and Training Institute) after OPP was split into four organizations in 1988. She also managed programs in education, youth training, water supply, and secure housing.
The OPP operated in Karachi’s Orangi Town Low Income Settlement, providing water and sanitation to hundreds of thousands of people in poor settlements across the country. The groundbreaking effort, which began in 1980, assisted residents of those impoverished villages in constructing their own sewer and water systems.
Perween, a media-shy but well-known social activist and educator, was engaged in developing a water supply plan for the city with the Karachi Water and Sewage Board, which was given to the government, politicians, and NGOs. “We strive to provide a situation analysis, a list of difficulties, and remedies for each issue,” she stated.
Perween had played a key role in developing solutions to sanitation issues and had dedicated her life to the development of poor communities across the country. She worked in an environment that most people would shun, but she was a huge help to others who came to her whenever they had a problem, trusting her like an older sister.
She started the Karachi-based NGO Urban Resource Centre in 1989 and served on the boards of Saiban, another low-income housing NGO, and OPP-OCT (Orangi Charitable Trust, the microfinance branch of OPP). Perween also lectured at the Karachi-based universities of Karachi, NED University, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, and Dawood College of Engineering and Technology.
Perween was an eager collector of records of the land on the outskirts of the city, villages that were rapidly vanishing due to the ever-increasing demand from thousands of families migrating to Karachi every year from all across Pakistan.
She stated on the record that villages had been integrated into the city over time, and that landlords had partitioned them into plots and sold them for billions of dollars. Perween documented everything and helped individuals whose land had been taken, never hesitating to go to a place where her life was continually threatened.
Here’s the doodle of Google Pakistan today:
Perween was assassinated on March 13, 2013, when four shooters opened fire on her vehicle outside her office, putting an end to her long and successful career advocating for water and land rights. She had long been a vocal opponent of Karachi’s land and water mafias, as well as their political sponsors, and had received death threats.
She reportedly smiled, waved her hand, and remarked, “What will they do?” when friends and relatives warned her to take care of herself. I have a lot of work to do, and I’m in the midst of it.”
Perween Rahman worked to strengthen people and reduce their sense of insecurity by involving them in development projects. Her enormous achievement in bringing healthy changes to the lives of the citizens of Orangi leaves an unforgettable impact, and she saw not changing her routine to help the people as a defeat to terrorists.
Perween Rahman received the Mehdi Ali Mirza Award for Academic Excellence in 1984, the Jaycees Award for Community Service in 1986, the National Building Research Institute Award for Housing in 1994, the UN-Habitat Best Practice (with OPP-RTI) in 1996, the Faiz Foundation Award for Community Research in 1997, a World Habitat Award (with OPP-RTI)
In 2001, she received the Rotary Club Award for vocational service, and in 2008, she was named a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Water Academy in Oslo. On March 23, 2013, the Pakistani government bestowed the Sitara-e-Shujaat, or Order of Bravery, on her posthumously.