Rebel optimist: Perween’s passion to work for underprivileged highlighted

Documentary showcases social activist’s life, struggle


Hafsah Sarfraz May 25, 2016
Documentary showcases social activist’s life, struggle

ISLAMABAD: A documentary “Perween Rahman: the rebel optimist” that showcases the life and struggle of Perween Rahman — a revolutionary human rights activist, was screened at the National Press Club here on Tuesday.

Aurat Foundation Director Advocacy Rabia Hadi said that Rahman’s efforts needed to be recognised and celebrated.

“It is an honour for us to screen a documentary that highlights Perween’s struggles and her passion towards protecting the minorities and the underprivileged,” she said, while welcoming human rights activists, media officials and associates of the social activist.

The hour-long documentary not only highlights her work, passion and struggle but also goes on to tell the kind of person she was.

One of her colleagues featured in the documentary mentioned that in her final-year thesis she wanted to study Quaidabad, Karachi and low-income houses and work on them, when almost everyone else wanted to study posh architecture in Defence and PECHS, which goes on to show her passion to work for the underprivileged.

Sadia Fazli, her school friend since 1972 also featured in the documentary, mentioned that Rahman was a different person since the beginning.

“An average person could not understand her back in the day. She had her own ideologies and stood by them regardless of everything else,” she said.

The documentary went on to highlight that Rahman stood against eviction and firmly believed that even if slums and surrounding land had not been acquired in the right manner, kicking out 2,000 people from their homes was not the right thing.

She was a firm believer in human development and supported people’s efforts and empowered them.

A part of the documentary features an old interview of Rahman that shows she did not believe in funding from the World Bank or loans from third parties.

“The key to sustainability is partnerships with people instead of the USAID or the World Bank,” she said.

The documentary also goes on to show that her efforts and work empowered people and she challenged things around her, which is precisely the reason she came on board for the Orangi project.

Anwar Rashid, her friend and colleague said that her work was not just important for Orangi but equally important for Karachi.

Rights and social activist Nageen Hyat told The Express Tribune that the documentary was extremely powerful and touching - documenting her life, passion, work ethics and the strength of this remarkable woman who was silenced by a bullet in Orangi for the work she was doing for poor in that community.

“It is a much needed documentation of a story that needs to be highlighted in these challenging times,” she said.

Human rights activist Nasreen Azhar said that the documentary shows how she was doing so much and how some influential groups could be so dangerous.

“The documentary shows how big businesses can be dangerous. They don’t let anyone speak for the underprivileged or come in their way making these huge profits,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2016.

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