UNA-NY Screening the Issues

Fire in Our Hearts

Please join us for this special screening followed by
a discussion with

UNICEF Education Specialist


Founder and Executive Director, BYkids



Friday, June 15, 2012
6:30 - 7:00 p.m. | Registration and Cash Bar
Screening begins promptly at 7:00 p.m.

The Tribeca Grand Hotel
2 Avenue of the Americas (between White and Walker Streets)
New York, NY



UNA Members: FREE
UNA Student Members: FREE
Guests and Non-Members: $35 (includes one-year UNA membership)

FIRE IN OUR HEARTS is the extraordinary debut film by a young girl in India, which she made to highlight her struggles to obtain her own education and freedom from the poverty surrounding her and her family.

Jayshree Janu Kharpade of India was taken out of school at 7 years old so that she could raise her four younger brothers and contribute to her parents' labor at a brick kiln site. Exceptionally bright and motivated, she pleaded for years with her parents to let her return to her studies. They finally agreed, and she soon rose to the top of her school. Now aged 16, she has made a debut film, FIRE IN OUR HEARTS, which illuminates the immense social and economic potential of educating girls in the developing world.

The 30-minute film has already generated notable buzz, and was selected for The 2012 India International Film Festival (USA). It also saw a sold-out attendance for a BYkids benefit last year, hosted by Asia Society President, Vishakha Desai, and The Economist's Gideon Lichfield.

Jayshree's film mentor is Joyce Chopra, renowned pioneer of documentary cinema, who has produced and directed a wide range of award-winning films, including Smooth Talk, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at the Sundance Film Festival. She has received American Film Festival Blue Ribbon and Cine Golden Eagle Awards for her numerous documentaries, including That Our Children Will Not Die, about primary health care in Nigeria, and the autobiographical Joyce at 34, which is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. "When we see the world through the eyes of these courageous young film-makers, we can all learn so much about different cultures throughout the globe and about the universal experiences that unite us," she said about her association with ByKids.

Because kids tell honest and important stories, but often go unheard, the non-profit organization BYkids was created to pair master filmmakers, such Albert Maysles and Ric Burns, with youth (ages 8-21) from around the world, to create short documentaries that educate Americans about globally relevant issues.

By giving kids the tools and mentoring to make documentary films about their lives and packaging those films for a wide American audience, BYkids gives voice to youth from diverse cultures, and encourages international understanding and engagement by giving viewers concrete ways to respond.

In October 2011, Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for U.N. Peacekeeping Operations, became a core advisor for developing BYkids partnerships with United Nations agencies, extending the story sourcing, on-site logistics and strategic outreach for BYkids films. "Each BYkids youth storyteller mobilizes our conscience towards a larger sense of global solidarity. BYkids reminds us that we are one Humanity," said Mulet.

Holly Carter is the Founder and Executive Director of BYkids. Holly began her career as a writer and editor at The New York Times and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Since then she has lived in Korea as a Henry Luce scholar and print and television journalist; produced an award-winning documentary on Margaret Sanger; co-founded North Carolina's Full Frame Festival; served as a consultant for The After-School Corporation; produced the PBS series Media Matters; and most recently was the Executive Director of The Global Film Initiative.

Aarti Saihjee has been working with UNICEF, New York since December 2010. In her capacity as Education Specialist focusing on issues of gender and social equity in education, she is responsible for providing technical assistance to the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI) Secretariat located in UNICEF. In addition, she also provides support to the evidence-building, research and advocacy related activities of the global UNICEF education programme which is focused on ensuring the rights of all children to basic education and beyond.

Previously in UNICEF (India), Aarti managed the Education Programme for the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, based in the Hyderabad Field Office. She joined UNICEF India in 2003 and has worked intensively in the areas of girls' education, addressing the educational needs of children belonging to socially and economically disadvantaged communities, and ensuring quality education at both the national and state levels.

Prior to joining UNICEF, Aarti consulted with the European Union, World Bank, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and several non-governmental organizations in India on research and evaluations in basic education, women's empowerment and rural development. She has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Anthropology, International Development and Women's Studies at Syracuse University, New York and University of South Florida, Tampa. Aarti has also been the academic coordinator for University of Minnesota Study Abroad Programme in International Development in India.

Aarti earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology from Delhi University, India and holds two Master's degrees in Public Administration and Social Anthropology from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, New York. She also has a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology with a focus on International Development and Women's Studies from Syracuse University. Her professional interests lie in the field of social policy in general and education in particular and with a focus on bridging the gap between research, policy, and implementation especially as it relates to promoting gender and social justice.

Director's Statement from Jayshree Janu Kharpade

My name is Jayshree Janu Kharpade and I made this movie. I am a 16-year-old girl from the Warli tribe in Maharashtra State, India.

Me, and all the girls here at my school, are the lucky ones. We are the first generation who will not be illiterate like our mothers.

80 million tribal people live in India today. Their cultures and traditions are the foundations of India's ancient civilization. But many worked as slaves to landlords because they could not repay small loans. They were illiterate and did not know that this bondage was against the law.

In the late 1970s a movement to free these slaves began near the city of Mumbai. Tribal men and women formed a labor movement and succeeded in freeing themselves from bondage.

Ten years ago, the union's members built a residential school for their daughters. Nearly every girl at the school is the first in her village to receive an education.

From Joyce Chopra's field notes on the film:

I had been writing to Jayshree, encouraging her to think about how to shape a film about her life, when I was notified that Jayshree's mother had suddenly died. I didn't as yet know the circumstances, except that there was a new baby to take care of and I was sure that Jayshree would have to leave school. Instead I got the most remarkable report:

"Jayshree and other girls who will be the part of movie, was sharing with me that they would like to showcase their struggle in this movie, like how they were working as laborer or care taker of their siblings without attending school, how their parents were opposing them to get enroll in school, then how they came in this school, still how their parents are struggling for their basic needs and hoping that one day their daughter will change their destiny with the power of education and wisdom. Jayshree would like to showcase her recent shattered experience in this movie. Her relatives were forcing her to left the school to look after her younger siblings as they are too young but her father stood strongly at her side and refused this decision of their relatives."

Read more from Chopra's BYkids field notes

NOTE: Only UNA-NY Members have guaranteed seating to all our Screening the Issues film events, and attend for free or pay the discounted Members' admission, while UNA-NY Student Members attend ALL events for free. Non-Members must purchase tickets in advance to guarantee their seats. While we do offer a pay-at-the-door policy for guests and non-members, our events are often sold-out, so we strongly encourage membership with UNA-NY to guarantee your seats! Why not take advantage?

UNA-NY is grateful for the generosity of the Tribeca Grand Hotel, for allowing our organization the consistent booking of their state of the art screening room for our film-talk series, Screening the Issues.

Nearest subway stations to access the Tribeca Grand Hotel area:
Canal Street station: A, E, C trains
Franklin Street station: No. 1 train

Also close, but requires a little walk:
Canal Street Station station: N, Q, R, W trains

View the Tribeca Grand Hotel neighborhood map and more directions