Sana Sohail says her mom was her inspiration to pursue an education when education for girls was looked down upon. In 2004, along with a few of her peers, Sana founded the Global Fund For Children grantee partner Chanan Development Association (CDA), a youth-led organization in Pakistan dedicated to supporting the active participation of youth and women in their communities by employing the techniques of interactive theater, puppetry, digital and social media, music, cultural festivals, and trainings.
Sana’s background is uniquely media focused. In 2007, she decided to create a media unit with CDA. The goal was to enable youth to create short digital stories about the issues they were facing within their communities and share those stories with community members. Over 33 young people across Pakistan participated in a training that encompassed story writing, digital story creation, blogging, and social media. When she visited me in Washington, DC, Sana shared some of the digital media created by the young people with whom she worked. She beamed with pride as she excitedly talked about the youth in the program.
Sana described the enthusiasm of the youth in the media training workshop. Classes started at 9:00 AM, she said, and the youth were sitting outside at 8:00 AM, waiting for the classroom doors to open. There was interest and anticipation. She said that many of the youth she worked with came from very impoverished communities. Some of the youth faced opposition from within their families about participating in the training. Girls, in particular, were discouraged from attending, but they convinced their parents that the media training was a worthwhile activity.
Sana also described how the community received the media when it was screened. She said that once community members viewed the media and listened to the issues that the youth most cared about, the community began to better appreciate the media training workshop and began to find value in the creation process.
Sana is an educator involved in the Adobe Youth Voices program. She’s taking part in an online course that highlights the principles of youth media and innovation through the use of digital tools. Her dream is to one day open a digital media center dedicated to youth in Lahore, Pakistan. Sana said, “Every young person has a passion. They only need a platform. They only need a skill.” The digital storytelling training helps to enable young people to convey their messages and share their thoughts with their communities.