Last year, we interviewed My Voice Unheard founder Anum Nawaz (read the interview here). Earlier this month, Anum hosted a “Bola Chali” event at The New School. “Bola Chali” ventures to explore the wisdom of common Pakistanis, by creating a space that spotlights personal struggles, accomplishments, success and disappointments alike.
My Voice Unheard is a digital media project that envisions highlighting stories from all spheres of life in order to create consciousness towards a counter- narrative around Pakistani lives. Inspired by the tradition of story-telling, My Voice Unheard incorporates passing down and preserving traditions, all the while acknowledging the efforts that every individual invests in their lives. “Bola Chali” ventures to explore the wisdom of a common Pakistani, by creating a space that spotlights personal struggles, accomplishments, success and disappointments alike.
“Bola Chali” is designed around a hybrid version of story-telling and oral history. Each session is intended to focus on the personal journey or struggle of the narrator, amidst, sharing an incomparable voyage to identity formation. Each session is premeditated by a moderator who establishes personal connection with the narrator, supports for a detailed expression of self and acts as a liaison between the audience and the narrator thus, transforming a simple narration into a personal experience and journey for everyone.
Natasha Jahangir, a New York based photographer and founder of ‘Married in New York‘, Muhammad Moiz, a doctor, activist and performer, creator of “Shumaila Bhatti” and Mariyah Tareen, the first Pakistani to be at The New York Academy of Art, were the guests at this gathering. The event focused on having a conversation around a Muslim narrative that is never spotlighted and condemned to amnesia. It offered a safe space for sharing individual stories of liberation, struggle and achievement that are constantly forming an American Muslim identity that is widely unrecognized. The guests, impelled to share their experiences working in diverse fields, and incorporating western and eastern values in building a distinct identity that is strong and work towards a counter-narrative that challenges existing thoughts and ideas around Muslims.
Nawaz emphasized the need of highlighting such narratives as an example of resilience, and create an image that is not associated with Pakistanis all over the world. There is a dire need to feature these unheard voices and stories in order to build sustaining partnerships even within the country.
My Voice Unheard will continue to bring forward such stories as they have done so during the last two years. They have covered 250+ such stories, ranging from different social initiatives to entrepreneurs, and from Pakistanis in the US, Canada, UAE and UK who are all creating a narrative that defies the stereotypical image of Pakistani Muslims.
“Bola Chali’s” event was attended by people from different walks of life which included journalists, writers, student, veterans and professionals. The event ended with a few words from the guests in the audience and was proceeded by a networking session where the guests interacted with audiences.
[Feature Image by My Voice Unheard]