Nightingales of Pamir
Ever since I started learning music, I started recognizing music in nature, like the music of the streams and of the blowing breeze - Sidra Kanwal, a 17-year-old girl who just completed high school, Bulbulik was a completely different learning experience.
UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Project has declared Wakhi a vulnerable language. According to one estimate, only 40,000 native speakers of this language are left in the world. Out of these, roughly 10,000 reside in the Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan Province, Pakistan.
In 2016, USAID, through its U.S. Ambassador’s Fund, awarded a one-year grant to the Gulmit Educational and Social Welfare Society, a civil society organization based in Hunza, for the preservation of the near-extinct Wakhi language and culture by teaching music, arranging concerts, and documenting folk songs.
The Bulbulik Heritage Center, set up by the organization, aims to pass on the Wakhi language to the new generations through music.
The Bulbulik center has trained 60 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 to play six traditional musical instruments - the rubob (lute), tutek (straight flute), sitor (necked bowl lute), gabi (side flute), ghazhek (violin), and surinaye (oboe). The center has also documented 30 folk songs in a booklet.
Through USAID’s support, many youngsters of Gulmit are now giving foot-tapping performances at musical events across the country. Their professionally recorded songs, such as “Dilet Diwona (Wild Heart),” will be aired on local TV networks soon.
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