Journey of Hope is the story of one woman’s life changing journey into Afghanistan. It provides a fascinating and intimate insight into the lives of some of the country’s most influential people working to empower the cultural and social landscape of the country. More importantly it gives us a rare glimpse into the everyday lives of Afghans and the issues they face.
When Sanaz Fotouhi, a 22 year old Iranian-Australian woman encouraged her retired banker father to take a leading role in establishing one of Afghanistan’s first banks, soon after the Taliban had left in the early 2000’s, she had no idea she was setting in motion a series of life changing events that would shape the next decade of her life and the lives of many of the people she would encounter. All she knew then was that she had a dream to see Afghanistan and understand its people.
This dream was to take her from Sydney to Afghanistan four times, as part of a two-member independent documentary filmmaking team. It involved her in the making of two award winning documentaries: Hidden Generation – a poignant short film that deals with women’s self-immolation as a form of suicide in Afghanistan and the multi-award winning and Walkely finalist Love Marriage in Kabul – a feature documentary that follows the fascinating quest of Afghan Australian woman Mahboba Rawi, as she passionately negotiates and challenges old traditions to make a marriage happen between a young boy and the girl he has fallen desperately in love with. For Sanaz however, this turned into something much bigger than just navigating the difficulties of making films in Afghanistan in near impossible conditions. It became an incredible journey of self-discovery – one that would lead to her contributing towards the cause of raising awareness about the issues affecting Afghan widows and orphans.
In a series of raw encounters it would bring her face to face with the hidden gruesome realities of life in modern day Afghanistan. It would take her into the burns units of Kabul hospitals, where she would meet women almost her own age, who had set themselves on fire and who would share their share secrets with her, only to die the next day. She would also meet young pre-teen orphans who would confess to her for the first time, to having witnessed murder and suffered almost unbelievable physical abuse.
This is the story of how Sanaz left her comfortable life as a student in Sydney to live beyond her physical, psychological and mental boundaries in a war zone. It is also the story of how she fell in love with Afghanistan and its people, making her determined to tell their stories – stories that would otherwise remain untold.
During her time in Afghanistan Sanaz would meet some of the country’s most influential people, those working to empower the cultural and social landscape.
Afghanistan’s relationship with the rest of the world and the plight of its asylum seekers has been a continuous story in news. Yet there have been very few accounts that have taken us behind the headlines. Journey of Hope gives us an intensely personal and intimate snapshot of the everyday lives of Afghan people and a fresh perspective on some of the country’s most pressing issues.
Throughout her trips to Afghanistan Sanaz worked with the charity Mahboba’s Promise and is often invited as a speaker to their events. For more information on Mahboba’s Promise: http://www.mahbobaspromise.org.