In June, I went to Nepal in order to participate in the filming of a documentary with Doc Land Films. Hannah Badi – activist and lead storyteller in our book, No Longer Untouchable: A Story of Human Trafficking, Heroism, and Hope and I, along with a few others in her community, are going to be featured in a pilot episode on human trafficking. I will be sure to let you know how and when to watch it. In the meantime, enjoy this glimpse of our adventure.
OBSTACLES. TENACITY. WOWZAH. Three words to describe the jaw-dropping experience of a one-week documentary film shoot in Nepal in June. To be sure, this was a journey far beyond what I could have dreamt up or imagined.
There was a lot of chaos with travel and obstacles surrounding logistics and other production details throughout the film shoot. This included challenges due to weather (extreme heat mixed with torrential downpours), multiple flight delays and cancellations, monkeys’ screeches and fights interrupting interviews (now, there’s something I never expected!), interviews being scouted and set up only to realize the location was set up on a red ant hill … and on and on! We pressed on – through or around – the obstacles and made our way, together.
WE AGAIN MET WITH NEPAL’S PRESIDENT. I can hardly believe it, but we had the honor of having an audience with President Bidya Bhandari of Nepal. She wanted to be a part, not only of our history-making book launch in February, but now, with this documentary. Hannah, Spencer (the documentary’s visionary host), and I were each invited to step to the podium and share some remarks with the President. (Another great joy and honor!)
Before the meeting with the President, our team talked about our hope to have a moment during our meeting in which she touched Hannah’s arm or hand – signaling that she, holding the highest office in Nepal is no longer bound by the belief of Hannah – and the Badi people’s – exclusion due to caste and their “untouchability”.
Well, what happened was far beyond what we dared to imagine. During a private conversation with Hannah, the President drew Hannah into a warm, gentle, and deeply maternal embrace. As Hannah rested her head on President Bhandari’s chest for a moment, we witnessed as Hannah said, what was the “breaking of chains” – something never before done in Nepal’s history! All while the cameras rolled and recorded this moment for the world to see – SOON!
DEVISARA HANNAH BADI. What a force of nature is this soul sistah! Lead storyteller in our book, No Longer Untouchable, activist, founder of Himalayan Entrepreneur Resources and Our Home Nepal, and soon-to-be featured in a Doc Land film, Hannah Badi captivated the film team’s hearts with her strength, passion, energy, wit, smile, and love.
DOC LAND FILM TEAM. My gracious – what an extraordinary group of storytellers, creatives, and changemakers! I learned SO MUCH from each member of the Doc Land Film team on the ground in Nepal – Sofi, Steven, Spencer, Robert, and Cadia. I will be grateFULL for the rest of my life for the gift of spending a week with these sisters and brothers.
The moment I have news when the documentary will be ready to view, I’ll be sure to let you know! Amidst the gut-wrenching stories of human trafficking we are committed to convey, we had loads of fun together – as you’ll see in the photos and videos below.
BADI PEOPLE. We spent 3 days in a Badi village in the Far West of Nepal. It was hot – SO HOT. It made me stand (and sweat!) in awe at the strength of our Badi sisters and brothers – and fills me with greater understanding about why the work Devisara Hannah Badi is committed to do among her people is a matter of great importance.
MEENA, the pseudonym for Hannah’s big sister in our book, will be featured alongside Hannah in this documentary. It was powerFULL and astounding to hear her share her experience yet again when we filmed her interview. I heard one story in particular that I’d never heard before that made me cry. The Doc Land Film crew was blown away by her … her depth of spirit, beauty, and strength – along with her JOY and love. After her interview, I hugged her and wept at the miracle of her LIFE and story.
Meena was trafficked twice to India – for the first time when she was just 9 years old. She was enslaved in New Delhi, India’s, red light district of GB Road for 13 years. Even though I’ve spent the last 7 years listening to and writing the stories of Meena and her sisters, I heard a new story from Meena on this day that hit me HARD in the gut.
Even though this moment brought tears to my eyes, it filled me with great JOY to witness her heroism because she now lives FREE and is fighting with tenacity and great love so that ALL can live free. That is why she chose to tell her story to the extraordinary team of Doc Land Films on this day in the far west of Nepal … a story that will soon be shared with the world in this documentary. Meena is truly changing the world, as she floods the darkest places on our globe with love and light.
FILMMAKING. We filmed for 6 days straight. What I know of the arc of the story this team intends to tell, together with the visuals and interviews I saw being captured, will make for a most extraordinary documentary! In the meantime, check out some of the other award-winning documentaries from our director, Hernán Zin, and this extraordinary team of Doc Land Films here. Information about this pilot episode of the documentary series here and the sizzle reel is below.
Here is a photographic glimpse of our time together:
I love these quotes about life’s adventure, challenges, obstacles – along with hope and changemaking.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. -Helen Keller
A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it. -Ray Davis
Hope and change are hard-fought things. –Michelle Obama
OK, love – until next time!
We belong to each other.
Let’s standTALL, together, and light up the world!
xo, -Sarah DT