As I sat waiting for the award for ‘Best Documentary, Short Subject’ for which Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy had been nominated for her documentary Saving Face to be announced, my stomach tied itself in knots.
Having interned with Sharmeen last year, and worked with her on “Saving Face”, I was inspired by her. I frantically texted my friend Anushka (who had been Sharmeens’ assistant last year) who was as nervous and excited as me. The thought of Sharmeen at the Oscars was overwhelming and we had a strong feeling that she would win.
Originally published as: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, you are my role model
Author: Aaminah Qadir
We felt anxious, almost sick, but we knew that we were not alone. There was an entire country that Sharmeen represents, cheering nervously for her and anticipating her very great moment. Everyone was proud that she was nominated, and that a Pakistani had achieved something so great. As they announced “ Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy”, the room I sat in at my college in America burst out into screams and cheers.
My fellow students screamed out of joy, but I felt as a Pakistani only I knew what this win really means for our country.
In this win, Sharmeen has not only brought the most prestigious film award back home to Pakistan, but she has shown us that Pakistanis can reach their dreams. This strong headed and driven woman has made a difference in a country that often feels lost and forlorn. The award is a symbol of all that she has achieved and will continue to achieve, for Pakistan; a symbol of all that every one of us must aspire to achieve in the future.
Sharmeen has battled bureaucracy and red-tape so that her voice, and the voices of the oppressed is heard. She single-handedly ran the Citizens Archive of Pakistan every day and managed the company from the bottom, up. Surprisingly, she was always aware of everyone’s whereabouts, and sent in tasks even while she was away on business trips.
It takes a very strong person to have a family and to simultaneously work in a country often makes her tasks even harder. Like many, Sharmeen could have moved away to America after acquiring a great education, but she chose to return to her home and change the lives of the disillusioned in our society; to make a difference for our people.
Never did we think the day would come when Pakistan would be ushering in an Oscar. Sharmeen has now shown us just what Pakistan is capable of and is illuminating the way towards the path that we must follow.
So as we celebrate today, let this day guide us towards a new and enlightened future for Pakistan. Let us give voices to those in our country who have been suppressed and discriminated against. Let us all be the difference in our country.
Congratulations, Sharmeen. You are my role model, my inspiration – my country’s inspiration.