Mosaic / Student Research / April 4, 2012

Pakistani school featured in sisters’ documentary

Sisters, senior Yumna Rathore and junior Minah Rathore, brought together their individual interests to make a difference for children in Pakistan.

They are producing what they hope will be a film festival quality documentary about Roshni Public School, a NGO (Non-governmental Organization) providing education at minimal cost to street children in rural Pakistan.

According to Yumna, the film focuses on how the school transforms the lives of street children, providing them with food and clothing as well as academic and intellectual stimulation and the challenges and struggles these children face along the way.

“It really touched us and we wanted to carry on and spread the word,” Minah said.

Last fall the sisters applied for a Richter grant to cover the cost of documentary equipment with the idea of focusing on women in Pakistan, but as the project evolved they decided to focus on children.

Over winter break the sisters spent three weeks in Pakistan developing relationships with and interviewing students, teachers and the principal of the school.

They learned a lot about the school and “how many struggles these kids have had,” Minah said, adding that many students had lost siblings due to the unavailability of adequate medical care.

One of Minah’s favorite parts of the project was realizing that “you could tell this person’s story and could give these people a voice.”

Although they faced struggles arising from “different creative inputs” in the editing process, according to Minah, they have learned to “work together even during difficult situations,” and both sisters bring something different to the project.

Minah, who had experience with making films from previous coursework, focused more on the technical filmmaking aspect of the project.

“I wanted to do something different,” she said, to “transmit a message to people, but in a creative way.”

Yumna, an international relations major, was able to bring background knowledge of international development to the film. The project also fits well with Yumna’s post-graduation plans for graduate school in international development, with a focus on international education and helped solidify her decision in this.

The documentary is “basically done,” Minah said. The Rathores are now in a phase of refining and editing the documentary to make it “professional enough” to send to film festivals and making a two to three minute trailer.

They have received feedback on the film from multiple Knox alumni who now work in journalism and are sending the current film to four additional alumni for more comments.

“We really appreciate how much the alums have helped us out,” Minah said.

Their project will also be part of the Horizons Student Exposition display as part of the installation of President Teresa Amott.

Gretchen Walljasper

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