Film on women in Afghanistan wins global Christian human rights award

By staff writers
13 Oct 2010

The WACC-SIGNIS Human Rights Award 2010 has been given to the documentary ‘The Garden at the End of the World’, directed by Australian film-maker Gary Caganoff.

The film explores the legacy of devastation and trauma in Afghanistan and illustrates the tragic consequences of war and the widespread hunger, homelessness and lawlessness that it causes. In particular, it shows the impact on the lives of widows and orphans, who now number tens of thousands.

‘The Garden at the End of the World’ follows the work of two remarkable women, humanitarian Mahboba Rawi, and internationally recognised permaculturalist Rosemary Morrow, who offer alternatives to international ‘reconstruction’ efforts that have patently not worked.

The documentary reveals how urban and rural families and communities have disintegrated after losing fathers, husbands, and brothers to 30 years of political conflict, poverty and the drug trade.

Rosemary Morrow, a Quaker, “brings a holistic perspective to these experiences, emphasising the links between sustainability and genuine empowerment”, says the award citation.

Mahboba Rawi, a refugee from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, lives in Sydney, Australia. In 2001 she established a not-for-profit organisation called Mahboba’s Promise, to assist homeless widows and orphans.

She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2010, in recognition of her services to international humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.

“Through the eyes of these remarkable women Caganoff elicits stories and images of Afghanistan rarely seen before. Neither sentimental nor sensational, the film reaches into the dark depths and complexities of war torn Afghanistan,” say WACC-SIGNIS.

The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) promotes communication for social change (http://www.waccglobal.org/). It believes that communication is a basic human right that defines people’s common humanity, strengthens cultures, enables participation, creates community and challenges tyranny and oppression.

WACC’s key concerns are media diversity, equal and affordable access to communication and knowledge, media and gender justice, and the relationship between communication and power. It tackles these through advocacy, education, training, and the creation and sharing of knowledge.

WACC’s worldwide membership works with faith-based and secular partners at grassroots, regional and global levels, giving preference to the needs of the poor, marginalised and dispossessed.

SIGNIS (http://www.signis.net/) is a non-governmental organisation that includes members from 140 countries. As the World Catholic Association for Communication’, it brings together radio, television, cinema, video, media education, Internet, and new technology professionals.

The association was created in November 2001 from the merger between two organisations (Unda, for radio and television; and OCIC, for cinema and audiovisual) that were both created in 1928. Its very diversified programmes cover fields such as the promotion of films or television programmes (juries at important festivals: Cannes, Berlin, Monte Carlo, Venice and Ouagadougou), the creation of radio, video, and television studios, production and distribution of programmes, supplying specialised equipment and training professionals.

SIGNIS has consultative statutes with UNESCO, Ecosoc (United Nations in Geneva and New York) and the Council of Europe. It is officially recognised by the Vatican as a Catholic organisation for communication.

[Ekk/3]

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