Background: USAID’s Food for Peace (FFP) development food assistance programs are multi-disciplinary approaches to addressing the key root causes of hunger and poverty in developing countries. They wanted a documentary that would explain the backdrop of extreme poverty, vulnerability and hunger in Bangladesh and how Food For Peace assistance is breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in skills development, health and resilience for communities. They wanted to convey core messages and tell an emotionally engaging story through a creative and visually captivating product. They asked us to capture the essence of the beneficiaries’ situations through different and unexpected perspectives, the challenges they face and the assistance that allows them to overcome those challenges in a film product that is targeted at the layperson and appeals to basic human emotions through beautiful and vivid visuals and a gripping storyline.
Challenges: Our first challenge was identifying the right beneficiary to capture their multi-faceted approach to alleviating extreme poverty. We wanted to capture the full breadth of the program, yet tell it on a personal level through one individual. We worked with the embassy staff and their local partners to identify leaders in their various programs in the country. We then conducted pre-interviews over the phone with the selected candidates to get additional information about their stories to see if they would meet our messaging requirements. We discussed the finding from the pre-interviews with the U.S. Embassy staff to select a final candidate.
Our second challenge was getting there. Because these programs work with the most vulnerable, they are often in remote, rural areas. We drove for half a day to stay at a lodge as close as possible to our subject, but she still lived another 1-2 hours awayso throughout the shoot we woke up before sunrise and drove in the dark to arrive at her home as the sun was rising.
Outcomes: In the end, we produced a 5 minute film and 30 second trailer in Sirajganj, Bangladesh about Monjuara. When Monjuara’s sons were young, her family struggled to survive. Some days they had nothing to eat. In 2011 things changed. A community group arrived and began training Monjuara about better agriculture techniques, proper healthcare and nutrition, women’s empowerment, communicating with local government organizations, and how to prepare for and respond to disasters. Five years later, the program is program is complete, but it lives on through Monjuara. Now, a community leader, Monjuara continues to teach members of her community what she learned. She advises pregnant women teaching them about proper healthcare for their unborn baby. Now, her husband helps her with the household chores including bathing and feeding their 3 sons and caring for their animals. Monjuara also liaises with local government representatives about community needs especially in times of disaster. Her dream is to provide this service to her village and a good education for her sons.
Client: USAID Bangladesh
Initiative: Food for Peace
Subject: Mossamat Monjuara Khatun, 27
Location: Purba Dhublai Village, Sirajganj, Bangladesh
About the Client: USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Production: Mehedi Hussain
Translation: Mehedi Hussain / Ahsan Khan (USAID)
Videography: Josh Estey / Morgana Wingard
Photography: Josh Estey
Editing: Sarah Grile
Music: Ryan Huff