CitiCare International was established to bring diverse peoples together in peace and address issues of marginalisation and inequality in East London and beyond. We began with the founding of the Noor Jehan Arts Centre (now NJArts-London) in the most diverse city of the world – a great place to build connections between segregated peoples. NJ Arts launched Arts Events designed to celebrate the talents and beauty inherent in East London’s diverse communities. Megastars felt the same way. In 1998, Sir Cliff Richard OBE formally opened the centre and he and Ustad Dr. Zakir Hussain Padma Bushan became Patrons of NJ Arts.
Celebrations: An annual FEST was launched to recognise genres not included in established arts festivals and we especially encouraged young people to learn musical skills from their cultural traditions. Celebration engendered by music and dance reached across linguistic boundaries, regardless of wide cultural diversity. NJ Arts became a training centre as well as an arts venue.
Networks: Our relationships with marginalised artists brought social welfare needs to the fore. Young Somali musicians brought their illiterate mothers and a stranded orchestra to meet us. We became their Voices in the face of corruption, marginalisation, neglect, necessary form-filling and even attended magistrates’ courts dealing with inter-clan feuds!
NJ Arts drew together poets, writers, the worldwide Urdu literati. The centre’s founder, an Urdu scholar, decided to use his creative writing skills to promote mutual understanding between peoples and a quality publishing initiative was born. Individuals asked if they too could make the material accessible for their own people and translation projects were launched
Training the small number of skilled people available to manage projects in the field limited our relief and development activities, so we invested in training the next generation of leaders, in London, Lahore and Karachi. Out of these new networks, we identified educational needs of talented children whose families were unable to pay their school fees. Our trainees were ready to become Rapid response teams assisting devastated victims of floods in Sindh in 2010.
Disaster Relief began when artists wanted to respond to Punjabi villagers whose homes were burned to the ground by terrorists. We learned how to respond to a disaster. In 2005, when the Pakistan quake devastated millions we were in a position to mobilise friends on the ground to find those villages abandoned by other aid agencies. The few could make a difference to the many. Being in London, in partnership with others, we launched a world wide appeal for funds and efficiently delivered relief items to neglected, traumatised, shivering hungry families scattered over the lower slopes of the Himalayas.
Saira Peter founded the The Saira Arts Academy in Karachi. She led the way in the arts modelling integrity, creativity and professionalism for a generation of young ladies longing in to do more. Her example in the arts and in philanthropy was lauded by the Government and she was formally recognised through the Sindh Excellence Award.
Saira Peter MSc (Hons) MA (LOndon) moved to London to study a History MA at Queen Mary London University and took over the Directorship of NJ Arts London to the present day.
The CitiCare group acts through relationships of
Trust: Cultural Awareness: Consultation: Flexibility: Transparency:
Embracing the wisdom and insight of the many.