Maryam and Nivaal Return to Pakistan after 4 years
Maryam and Nivaal Rehman | Toronto, Canada
Ever since we moved to Canada at the age of 5, we have been returning to Pakistan on family trips. Those trips used to take place a lot more frequently when we were in elementary school, because our teachers encouraged us to return to our home country, experience the culture, and of course, take a lot of home work with us because we would be away from school for months at a time. We used to visit in the months of February until May, because the weather in the summer months was very hot, and it was hard for us to adjust to the heat after living the majority of our time in Canada's cold climate.
Fast forward to high school, when some of the most eventful years of our lives happened - including the start of "The World With MNR," interviewing world leaders, and getting more involved in school than ever before. During our speaking engagements in high school, we spoke about our activism in Pakistan, and specifically our work with the girls in our village there. However, our involvement in school, along with the seriousness of our studies (our grades now mattered because they were going to be used to determine which University we went to), prevented us from visiting Pakistan. Throughout high school, we were unable to go. So we took extra courses during Summer School and worked hard to complete all of our required high school credits a whole semester early. While our high school was originally going to be complete in June of 2019, we ended up completing it in February, 2019 (because of all the extra time we spent studying and attending classes during summer vacations). As soon as we finished, we set out for what was going to be the trip of a lifetime to Pakistan.
During February until April 2019, we spent our time in Pakistan filming a documentary on girls' education. We filmed our visits to the school in our village, workshops with the village children, as well as interviews with several individuals who are working to create change in Pakistan.
This documentary is something that we have always wanted to work on. It highlights the side of Pakistan that we have seen all our lives - a side of hope. One that shows how there are problems in the country, but there are also many individuals who are working to solve these problems.
The focus of the documentary, is girls' education because we believe that girls’ education is one of the ways that we can change Pakistan for the better. This documentary features our journey around the country, and will send a message of hope for Pakistanis, while showing people around the world what the true potential of Pakistan is. Below are some pictures of ours in our village, visiting schools and conducting interviews with different leaders.
We travelled to several different cities in Pakistan, including Lahore, Islamabad, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Mangla and Mirpur (Azad Kashmir). Our maternal family is based in the Lahore area and in a village near Lahore, Punjab while our paternal family is based in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir.
We get a chance to travel between these two areas whenever we come to Pakistan, and we always love the long drives through the villages of Punjab, and the mountains of Kashmir.
Pakistan is a beautiful country, and we hope to see more of it whenever we come to Pakistan again. During the time that we were there, however, we were so happy to see the wonderful landscapes, culture and history that exists everywhere. Below are some pictures from our travels:
Another initiative of ours during our time in Pakistan, was speaking at various youth conferences, meetings and events. We absolutely loved having the opportunity to engage with inspirational and active Pakistani youth who are passionate about creating changes to their country. Sharing our story with all of them was amazing, and the response we received on these various occasions was always very positive.
The youth of Pakistan have the ability to create unprecedented changes that are necessary for the positive future of the country, and seeing them all at these events, hosted by youth-activism organizations like Volunteer Force Pakistan and Positive Pakistan, was really uplifting, and gave us lots of hope for the future.
We will be updating all of you about the details of this incredible trip, and will let you all know when we release our documentary for the world to see this fall. For now, here are some pictures from our trip and a letter that we wrote, dedicated to Pakistan, at the end of our trip:
Dear Pakistan, This trip has been one of the most incredible ones we have had in our lifetime. It’s always so hard to leave you without wanting to stay longer! We have learned so much during this trip, and will remember the love, the memories, and the wonderful experiences we have had for the rest of our lives. This has truly been a life changing experience for us. Thank you for everything, humare pyaare Pakistan! Allah Hafiz 💚💚🇵🇰 All our love forever, MNR