PhotoSF Studio

PhotoSF Studio

GYPSY FILES: THE MOST FEARLESS

Thank you Surfline.com for a great article about ‘The Most Fearless’

Is there such thing as an entrepreneurial mom, and if so would she really have time to write about it?

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I’ve stolen a few minutes to write about ‘parenting as an entrepreneurial mom’, thanks to some prodding by our intrepid PR person Molly Celaschi.  However, I’m really thinking about the proposal I have to get to the Tourism Board of Bangladesh, how to pick up my daughter from preschool on time, AND coming up with something fun and exhausting to do with her in 100 degree weather. I’ll skip altogether the notion of planning a healthy dinner, or trying to plan her bath-time. 
I thought taking a break to write about parenting would make me pause and consider what it is I’m doing and why, but I find that I’m just dog-tired from being up at 2am working on financing for our latest feature film documentary. I launched my independent film studio while pregnant with our daughter. Somehow this seemed like a good idea. My daughter came into this world nearly speaking Ladakhi like the Buddhist Nuns from the film I was editing throughout my pregnancy. It seems the immediate months after her birth was all about nuns. 
Now she is walking and talking on her own, and is discovering my latest project, about Bangladesh’s first competitive female surfer. My daughter knows quite well where Bangladesh is on a map, but cannot comprehend why a girl would not be able to surf there if she wanted to. 
Which brings me to my motivation - the driving force for starting my own studio and telling these stories was an imagined conversation I had with my future 15-yr-old daughter. I did not want her to ask me if I’d ever been to Bangladesh and my answer be ‘no, I could have gone when you were younger, but I didn’t’. I’m certain she would not agree with my choice had I stayed home. Same goes for why I do this myself instead of working for a big company – I want her to grow up knowing that dads AND moms can create their own futures, and my hope is that I can give her a successful example of this. But that is definitely not always the case. 
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This current film is called ‘The Most Fearless’, and while it is a good name for this project I find that I am everything but. Though I started my own business I find that I am deeply afraid of failure, but that fear is incredibly motivating. I would think that any entrepreneur who has children would note that the risk is greater with the responsibility of family – one can no longer crash and burn as one might have as a single person. And in the film business in particular it seems as though one is always on the edge of tremendous financial disaster… or the greatest opportunity ever. 
And perhaps the greatest challenge is realizing which end of that see-saw you are on. One minute you can be on a stage gratefully accepting an award from your peers and the next you could be running up your credit cards to finance the next small stage of a project because the financing process is slow – or nonexistent. But it doesn’t get much better than when you come home from a festival competition and your young daughter asks you ‘mommy, did you win?’ and you can say yes. 
Except when you come in the door and she asks ‘mommy, did you win?’ and you say ‘no, not this time, maybe next time’ and she says ‘that’s alright mommy. I’m proud of you’. Now that’s the best.
- Heather Kessinger
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When Doing Good Meets Crashing Waves

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Nasima Atker, Bangladesh’s first female competitive surfer know what it is like to be without. And now she knows what it is like to have her own surfboard.

After various trials and tribulations struggling just to make it out into the ocean to surf, Nasima has been granted her very own surf board emblazoned with her moniker. She exclaimed, “Now everyone will know this board is mine!” when she received the generous donation.

Her surfboard benefactor- Good People, a brand that upholds it’s promise to join the “Good” with the “People.” Their motto is “Go big and do good!” And that mission was a success during this particular trip to Cox’s Bazar.

Nasima is not like most surfer girls her age. At barely 18-years-old, she has left her disapproving husband to move into her own place. With not much to her name, she now has a board to call her own. And with her name set firmly in the fiberglass, odds are no one will be taking it away from her any time soon.

Not that she won’t share her new gift. Nasima is most grateful for the surfboard because of how it helps further unite the surfing community at Cox’s Bazar. She was excited at sharing the board with her fellow surfers- the boys and the young girls now following in her footsteps.

At a recent trip to San Martin island, Nasima shared her board with everyone who wanted to use it. No one was denied access to the board. And to someone like myself who has never even touched a board, it was refreshing to learn how to surf in the Bay of Bengal with her beautiful new ride.

Written by Molly Celaschi

9 Ways to Make a Child Smile

Here are 9 ways to make a child smile- anytime, anywhere.

Whether you’re in America frolicking, or traveling the Bangladesh beaches, these tips will help in any situation:

  1. Make funny and unusual faces.

  1. Smile from your heart.

  1. Go for a walk together and explore. Walk, talk, laugh, & hold hands.

  1. Listen to them….really listen to what they say (and if you don’t speak their language utilize #1 and #2 interchangeably).

  1. Chase them on the beach until you lose your breath or think are having a stroke (then utilize #1 and #2 again).

  1. Once you get to know them, exclaim “Tickle, tickle” & gently tickle their sides. Get ready to chase them again.

  1. Have them teach you something new—-like how to surf or catch a fish with your bare hands!

  1. Give them a surprise. Whether it be a unique rock or shell you found along your walk, or the scarf right off of your neck. Pay attention to what makes them smile.

  1. Once you have utilized #1 - #8, Give one last hug to ensure they know they are special.

Delight in the simplicity of children’s laughter because at times it is the only shelter that can help us get through the night. A child’s laughter is a precious joy that is free, irreplaceable and completely contagious!

Whether I am here in Bangladesh, France, “Timbukto,” or America—an authentic smile is the one freedom that I will always cherish.


Written by Tamara Chandler
Photos by Tamara Chandler

(Pictured above Selim & Tamara, Pictured below Molly Celaschi & Bangladesh girls surf club)

Living in the Moment, Bangladeshi-style

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Americans have the luxury, and pressure, of planning for their futures. They have time. It’s amazing how often I have complained in America that I never have enough time. It is one of my biggest complaints, and one of my biggest excuses. The Bangladesh people of Cox’s Bazar do not have the luxury of using the “not enough time” excuse. They live in the moment, truly.

We say “Live in the moment. You never know if tomorrow will ever come. Tell your loved ones how you feel. Express gratitude.” and so on, as a way to appreciate all that we have. But the Bangladeshi people live one day at a time, because they do not know if they can eat tomorrow, see their friends again, be sold off into a marriage with a stranger…

When they eat, they are grateful their bellies are not screaming for food. When they bathe, they are grateful they are not covered in dust from their dirt floors. When they celebrate a holiday, they are grateful for another day with their families. 

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Americans often think of the future – deprive themselves now to save for retirement, sign up for eHarmony to find their soul-mate and procreate, find a house to keep their future babies, pay off their debt and save for their children’s future, find a better job to make more money to pay off more debt from more things accumulated. Work your way up the corporate ladder, add to your 401K, compare yourself to your neighbor. Buy a new car, pay more for insurance, curse as you clean up the stains that your child made in your new upholstery.

Sound familiar? This is similar to how I live, unfortunately. But after arriving in Bangladesh, I have conveniently let a lot slide. In my down time, I am not obsessing over the future, but reflecting on what I did and saw during the day. I am not obsessing over the new home I need to find in the 30 days after my return; I am reflecting on the beautiful people I met today. I am not obsessing over my next freelance paycheck; I am reflecting on the beautiful landscape and scenery outside my hotel room. I am not obsessing over my age or weight or ovaries or split-ends.

I am currently concerned with whether Nasima will come surf at San Martin with us tomorrow, and if there are enough donated sandals for the young girls in the surf club, and how I can improve my balance so I can finally stand up on the surf board when I catch the next wave.

Written by Molly Celaschi
Photos by Molly Celaschi
LinkedIn

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The Look, and Feel, of Poverty

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We visited the Karail slums in Dhaka Bangladesh today, and my mind is literally blown.

I have never even imagined such poverty - some people living in trash heaps, drinking filthy poisoned water, children with no clothes, bones showing through tight skin from a severe lack of food…

And yet - there was so much energy there. We got lost in the maze of narrow alleyways, passing hundreds of impoverished dwellers. I never felt more alive.


Children playing cricket with wood plans, dogs running wild, old men using construction tools on shacks, babies bathing in public – these are some of the things you will see roaming the slums.

There is an intimacy, and immediacy here. In America, we are so separated. We go days without speaking or seeing one another (and no, liking Facebook posts and texting do not count). We travel throughout the same city without even bumping into one another. We run errands and have the option of several different grocery stores, salons, libraries, dry cleaners – you name it – all in one small city. 

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But in the Karail slums, there are no options. You walk down a narrow corridor and there is a barber shop on your left. I use that term loosely as a barber shop here is a tiny shack with two chairs where men get shaves in a dirty mirror with a dirty razor. Directly ahead - approximately 3 feet – is a grocer. The grocery shack is literally 5x5. It holds a small ice cream cooler and some snacks hanging from the rafters. This is considered a luxury here.

I say that because the average person, out of the hundreds of thousands crammed into this tiny area, cannot afford the clean bottled water, or an ice cream on a blistering hot day, or a bag of snacks when their bellies are empty. The reality for one of the slum dwellers is they drink dirty water from the trash-infested river, possibly laced with arsenic. They have little shelter from the 100 degree heat, which impacts the women covered head-to-toe far more than anyone else. And the food? Good luck finding some. They may be able to afford a banana for their child, or a cup of rice for their family. Typically they pull their children out of school to help work on the days they cannot afford to feed their family. But this usually isn’t too much of an issue, since most of the children do not have a school to attend anyway.


There are no food stamps. There is no minimum wage. There is no Affordable Healthcare. There is no Child Protective Services. It’s every man for himself. And woman… And child.

- by Molly Celaschi

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Photos by Molly Celaschi

Ok, it’s never over…

The Most Fearless was selected for the pitch at this years American Documentary Film Festival Film Fund competition! We will be in Palm Springs going at it Thursday March 27th!

http://www.americandocumentaryfilmfestival.com/#!march-27-schedule/czor

It’s all over! At least for now…

You may not want to read this

There are many reasons why it is difficult - some say impossible - for Nasima to realize her dream of surfing around the world. When we embarked on this project we went into it thinking that the main obstacle was cultural, if not religious. This is true, the prevailing current is that women are called whores for surfing. Once a girl hits about 14 it is true that they don’t swim in public.

But that is not true for Nasima. Over the past year and a half Nasima has shown us that she is stronger than that. The current that holds most women down in this part of the world has not stopped Nasima. She’s kept surfing, she’s kept winning and she could find herself traveling the world. She has proven the title, that she is ‘The Most Fearless’.

 

This is a documentary film and a true story.

We don’t know how this snapshot into one courageous girls life will end. Today is Thursday, November 7th, 2013. And only just recently Nasima was once again surprising all of us in her ability to surf a reef break on a short board at St. Martin and embarking on her first real job as the first female lifeguard in the country.

But today Nasima is missing.

We assume that she has gone back to her husband as he is answering her cell phone. He is not allowing us, or any of her surfer friends to speak with her.



The baseline challenge for Nasima - as with so many others - may not be discrimination, religious fundamentalism, or physical harm - but poverty. Most of us have the great privilege in life to not know what that is like. To not ever know what it’s like to be hungry all the time. To not know where we are going to sleep at night. Is it true that choosing this difficult marriage is her best choice? In her shoes would any of us do anything differently?

This has happened before. Nasima always resurfaces more determined than ever. Will that happen again, or is this time different? She doesn’t even know that a couple of surf sponsors have stepped up to the plate. If she saw and understood the momentum that is gathering around her would it make a difference?

This is a documentary film and a true story.

Our job is not to rescue, or to even naively think that we could. But we are a global community. We have so much. It is possible to incite opportunity for others to walk through. Help us tell the story. Help us continue and encourage involvement in the community. Show Seea, GoodPeople, RNLI and Sustainable Surf that their investments in this part of the global community are only the tip of the iceberg.

Blow this kickstarter out of the water. Send the crew back to Bangladesh. Show the world that this story matters. Let’s all show Nasima that her story matters.

Back now to ‘The Most Fearless’, though you may not want to read this

There are many reasons why it is difficult - some say impossible - for Nasima to realize her dream of surfing around the world. When we embarked on this project we went into it thinking that the main obstacle was cultural, if not religious. This is true, the prevailing current is that women are called whores for surfing. Once a girl hits about 14 it is true that they don’t swim in public.

That is not true for Nasima. Over the past year and a half Nasima has shown us that she is stronger than that. The current that holds most women down in this part of the world has not stopped Nasima. She’s kept surfing, she’s kept winning and she could find herself traveling the world. She has proven the title, that she is ‘The Most Fearless’.

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This is a documentary film and a true story.

We don’t know how this snapshot into one courageous girls life will end. Today is Thursday, November 7th, 2013. And only just recently Nasima was once again surprising all of us in her ability to surf a reef break on a short board at St. Martin and embarking on her first real job as the first female lifeguard in the country.

But today Nasima is missing.

We assume that she has gone back to her husband as he is answering her cell phone. He is not allowing us, or any of her surfer friends to speak with her.

image



The baseline challenge for Nasima - as with so many others - may not be discrimination, religious fundamentalism, or physical harm - but poverty. Most of us have the great privilege in life to not know what that is like. To not ever know what it’s like to be hungry all the time. To not know where we are going to sleep at night. Is it true that choosing this difficult marriage is her best choice? In her shoes would any of us do anything differently?

This has happened before and Nasima always resurfaces more determined than ever. Will that happen again, or is this time different? She doesn’t even know that a couple of surf sponsors have stepped up to the plate. If she saw and understood the momentum that is gathering around her would it make a difference?

This is a documentary film and a true story.

Blow this kickstarter out of the water. Send the crew back to Bangladesh. Show the world that this story matters. Let’s all show Nasima that her story matters.