Middle Eastern Women Empowering Others Through Sports

Submitted By: Shana Vassilieva | Age: 29 


In December 2015, I set off on a journey to the Middle East. The range of experiences are hard to summarize into one sentence, but as cultural exchanges go this one was the most life changing! From this journey we filmed a short documentary series about elite athlete women in Jordan & Egypt who are empowering others and improving local communities through sports and education. We had the pleasure of filming with Syrian refugees at camps in Jordan, with local Egyptian girls playing basketball at NGO Girl Power, at a bike race that benefits local kids near the Dead Sea and so much more. For all the stories within this initiative, I am pleased to say that these stories add to the research and stats that reveal — women who are empowered correlate with healthier thriving communities. And, that, Middle Eastern women and girls can!

With the added element of how topical the Syrian Refugee story is at the moment, I feel especially honored to be able to communicate the scope of the female perspective within this crisis. We were able to film at two different Syrian Refugee camps. One of which is in the middle of the Jordanian desert near the boarder of Syria called Za’atari. With just under 100,00 inhabitants it is the 3rd largest city in Jordan. Of all messages though, there was one very distinct clear message that seems to be quite a misconception in the West. This misconception is the truth of each Syrian refugees’ deepest desire—which is that they just want to go home.

With the help of the NRC (Norwegian Refugee Council), Badminton champion Dima Ardah, retired USA National Soccer Players (Mary Harvey and Lori Lindsey), Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls co-founder (Meredith Walker) & our project directors we were able to capture compelling truths and infectious joy.

Our project directors and collaborators for this short doc film series are: UT’s Center For Sport, Peace and Society, ESPN Women & The US department of State. The Global Sports Mentoring Program was started as a large initiative that would empower women and girls worldwide through sports.

Find me at: http://www.happyshiver.com

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