POLO Stories is a global nonprofit film production platform dedicated to amplifying transformative stories about inspiring women. We create, promote, and disseminate documentaries focused on entrepreneurship, education, and art, emphasizing social impact in low and middle-income countries. POLO does not just produce visual journalism, but captivating art.
A participatory approach is in our DNA. Community members are not just part of the production platform: they are the producers! Members will play an active role in what to produce and how.
STORIES FILMED & PLANNED FOR 2021
Topics of special interest are women's rights, economic and social development, ethnic diversity, and youth as a driver of change.
THE CARAVAN OF JOY (AND TEARS)
Caravanning from Zimbabwe to South Africa seems like a fun trip. But the real magic happens when one jumps into that same caravan in tears of sadness and comes out in tears of joy. Ncazelo Ncube is doing cutting-edge work in mental health in the outskirts of Johannesburg using the most extraordinary artistic approaches to help women, families, and entire communities fight HIV and AIDS, poverty and conflict.
LABORATORIO DEL ESPÍRITU
Gloria Bermudez suffered from the war against Pablo Escobar in the 80s in Colombia. She back then worked as the librarian at the university in Medellín, where she used to deliver first aid treatment in the basement to those affected by the bullets. Learning from that traumatic experience, Gloria founded El Laboratorio del Espiritu (The Lab’s Spirit), a cultural initiative for the youth, which aims to transform rural areas into conducive places for dreaming, as oppose to a source of regular recruitment for all sorts of illegitimate activities.
Trains can take you from north to south, east to west, to life or death. Hasina Kharbhih, a social activist, has been working in India since the age of 17 to stop human trafficking and to create sustainable livelihoods for women and children. She has helped dismantle various networks of slavery and illegal prostitution and, despite suffering from life-threatening attacks, she never stopped fighting with her most valuable weapon: belief.
PROUD TO BE GIRL
Diana Sierra is an industrial designer and entrepreneur who helps thousands of girls in over 30 countries to avoid missing school whilst menstruating. Over 100 million girls in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of dropping out of school because of their period. To overcome this challenge, Diana Sierra created an unorthodox prototype using an umbrella and a mosquito net, which is now revolutionising the market of reproductive health products.
CITIES WITHIN CITIES
‘Those we see but have never seen and will never see’: that’s how Zerka Tahir poetically describes a nonpoetic reality: that of outcasts flooding the streets of deprived urban areas in Pakistan. Zerka is behind The Learning Hubs, an initiative to foster children of dancing girls, musicians and orphans in special facilities where education, vocational skills and healthcare are provided for free. She claims to be a simple mother of two, but in reality, she has become the mother of thousands.
Children of a Lesser God is how Benilde Mourana defines children with special needs whom she supports through her organisation in Mozambique. In a country where survival of the fittest remains the norm, making an entire country understand that persons with mental disabilities are citizens and not problems is a real struggle. Benilde lost a daughter to an extremely rare condition, and since then she has embarked on a crusade to change perceptions in this corner of Africa. She might never receive a Nobel Prize for her work, but she does not need to: she is already an invisible hero.
Cambridge-trained geologist Oyun is a Mongolian politician who thinks green. In 2014, she became the first female chair of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD). She is the leader of the Civil Will Party, the former Minister of Environment and Green Development, and has been a member of the Parliament of Mongolia (State Great Khural) for two decades. Oyun has also headed two United Nations agencies and is an iconic woman in Mongolia. She was recently appointed by the Green Climate Fund as its director of external affairs. She has made her mark as a global earth champion.
Aïssata Lam set up the Youth Chamber of Commerce of Mauritania to support young women entrepreneurs struggling to access funding for their start-ups. She is a vocal advocate for women’s rights, using her platform to honour exceptional Mauritanian women, and was appointed to the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council by French President Emmanuel Macron. ‘The time is coming when women’s voices cannot be silenced, nor ignored. The time is coming when women’s equal participation in today’s most pressing issues is necessary. The time is coming when women’s seat at the table is non-negotiable. This time is now’.
THEIR EYES, MY VISION
Helena Ndume, an ophthalmologist, has performed sight-restoring surgeries on 35,000 Namibians free of charge – many of her patients now call her ‘Namibia’s miracle doctor’. Helena’s motivation to serve the less fortunate stems from the civil unrest she witnessed as a child. Forced to flee her homeland at the age of 15, Helena lived in Zambia, Gambia, and Angola before going to study in Germany. Helena’s vision is to help people see the beauty of this world.
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Miguel A. San Joaquin
Founder and CEO
Anabel San Joaquin
Art & Marketing Director