Sandy Smolan Film Director
Two-and-a-half years ago, I got a call from somebody from a nonprofit called Heifer International. And they give livestock. They were looking for somebody who had both a feature and a documentary background to help them with a program that they thought was pretty unusual in Nepal. They described it to me. And it seemed very nice and well-being but kind of outside the work I was doing. And at first I was going to turn them down. And they said, "Look, we'd love to have you help us out. And you can either come over with a crew. Or if you want to come over and just take a look at it, we'll be glad to fly you over."
And I thought, "I've always wanted to go to Nepal." And so my partner and I went over. And they weren't just giving animals. They started out giving animals to women but realized that most of the women in Nepal had ever been educated before. And so before you could even give them the animal, there was some training that needed to be done. And so they started bringing together groups of women. And over the last 10 years, they had evolved this program, which was truly revolutionary in changing the nature of society in Nepal. And they were empowering these women by teaching them and bringing them together -- breaking through gender lines, breaking through caste lines. And these women were so inspired and inspiring. And I was just incredibly moved by what they had achieved with so little. By being given a little, they had taken it, and they were building homes, sending their kids to school, starting loan programs.
I came back, went to Panasonic, Panavision; got cameras. Took this little budget and went to Radical Media; I got some help. I went to a company called Birns & Sawyer, and got more equipment. Took their miniscule budget and made this film that was kind of life-changing for me. It brought me back into the world.
It brought me back to what I'd started my career doing, which was traveling around the world and looking at other cultures and bringing back this message about how social entrepreneurship could make a difference, and how development could make a difference, and how what we did here could help people in the world. We were, in fact, living in a world that is increasingly connected. And that the differences between a small village in Nepal and Los Angeles actually aren't as great as they once seemed.
And that cell phones are everywhere, and that they're becoming the great game changer. And that what people are doing there is not a one-way street. It's not just about helping them. But there are things that they're doing that can inspire us about just satisfaction, happiness, and drive.
These women fiercely wanted to take care of their families and were doing it with great elegance. And so that film, which was initially just for Heifer -- it ended up having a life of its own and won a prize at a couple of film festivals -- seen by a couple million people now and has led to our doing a series of films around the world. I've been back to Nepal twice. I've been in India twice. I've done two projects in Rwanda and Uganda. I'm going back again and working with Nicholas Negroponte on a film about One Laptop Per Child around the world. And I'm hopefully going to Rwanda again, later this summer, working on a project about single-use syringes to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa.
And it kind of brought me back to passion in realizing that there are things that we do in our career to support our families, and make a living, and have a good career. But there are also things that you get very passionate about. And I've been fortunate to be able to go back and forth between the two.
What is a common law marriage?
Answered by Science Channel
Is there a connection between food and democracy?
Answered by Alice Waters
Do lightsabers have any practical uses in everyday life?
Answered by Discovery Channel