A little can mean a lot to those who have nothing
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20th November 2016, Islamabad, Pakistan

“We the people, we the arts” is a visual art competition on the topic of Zero Hunger, by the United Nations, where the finalists’ art pieces were displayed in an International Exhibition at Serena hotel in Islamabad. This exhibition will travel around the country, and later around the world.

Ms Zainab Abdulhussain’s painting for the UN’s ‘Zero Hunger’ initiative has been selected as one of the competition’s 23 finalists. Ms Abdulhussain, of Karachi, Pakistan, writes of her painting;

“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into (the ranks of) Your righteous servants.”

Al-Qur`an; 27:19

“If we all do one random act of kindness daily, we just might set the world in the right direction.”-

Martin Kornfeld

The idea behind my painting is based on two empowering concepts “Shukur or gratefulness” and “sharing”. The inspiration for my painting comes from my own personal experience when I walk on the streets of Karachi simply buying food for myself; where little children approach me, asking for food or money. I prefer buying food for them instead of giving money.

The smile and excitement that they have on their faces makes me satisfied from within. I observe them for a little while when they take the food, and gather their mates to share amongst themselves.

The idea behind oversizing the food in my painting is to show the ampleness that they feel even if they get a little amount of food. For them it is a lot to share among themselves and make each other happy.

Background to the competition and its aims from the United Nations Information Centre Islamabad site:


The ‘We the People, We the Arts’ competition aims at involving young artists in promoting the theme of zero hunger.


In 2016, the Embassy of Switzerland marks its 50th year of cooperation with Pakistan through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). On the occasion of this anniversary, the SDC has joined forces with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through visual arts. The Sustainable Development Goals were set by UN member countries and are a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all over the next 15 years. Art is an ideal channel for ensuring that young people are fully aware of them and take a leading role in their promotion.

Visual art is a universal language that transcends national boundaries. A means of cultural diplomacy, it serves as powerful tool to promote positive values and development issues. Art and culture are also important factors in peace building. Artists, who appeal to both intellect and emotion to get their message across, are key drivers of social change. The medium empowers young artists to showcase a positive face of Pakistan while raising the profile of contemporary art from the country.

The SDC’s engagement also seeks to support local cultural endeavours and to support artists to reach audiences and access markets and culture industry networks in Switzerland and worldwide.

The Competition:

This competition involves young artists studying in the leading art schools of Pakistan. We are asking students to develop artwork, using the mediums of sculpture, painting, and miniature painting, to highlight the theme of zero hunger.


The theme selected for the competition is Zero Hunger. Food is a basic human need. One in nine people today are undernourished. Southern Asia faces the greatest hunger burden, with about 281 million undernourished people. It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. The second goal of the Sustainable Development Goals is to “End Hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” The aim is to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030; making sure all people – especially children and the more vulnerable – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round.

Right now, our soils, freshwater, oceans, forests and biodiversity are being rapidly degraded. Climate change is putting even more pressure on the resources we depend on, The goal on zero hunger requires promoting sustainable agricultural practices: improving the livelihoods and capacities of small scale famers, allowing equal access to land, technology and markets.  This requires comprehensive efforts to ensure that every man, woman and child enjoy their right to adequate food; women are empowered; and priority is given to family farming. (For more information go the links at the end of the page). Works discussing food as an integral part of Swiss and Pakistani culture are welcomed as well.