Sunday, November 3, 2013

New Updates for Spring / Summer 2013 available

Although with my usual delay, I finally was able to post the latest updates on the website.
Here is a teaser.  
If you want to read the full the full updates, including a Travel Update please go to the website

Baaskaa   wanted to expand his option, so he and Davaa enrolled in a driving course to obtain their licenses. Unfortunately the course was two month long and after I left things quickly fell apart. Baaskaa didn’t complete the course and Davaa only managed with some last minute help of his parents.

Baaskaa is exceptional intelligent, but needs stability and encouragement, two things I can’t give him from afar. Besides the lack of structure, I also worry about the limitations of his world. I worry that he’ll have a hard time advancing, simply because different views and new experiences are unavailable to him.
When I went to shoot a feature film in Bangladesh over the summer, I brought him with me. Once in Bangladesh – and on a movie set – Baaskaa embraced everything new; he loved every minute of it. If he'd had a choice, he’d still be in Bangladesh today.

Upon returning home, he decided to repeat the driving course. I am convinced he’ll pull through this time.

 Vannie   graduates from high school.

He finished tenth grade in May and will complete his vocational training this coming December. If everything goes well, he’ll attend university in the fall 2014, fingers crossed.

I was a beaming, proud mom at his graduation.


Nasa   turned 18, she is an independent adult now.

I scheduled my visit around her birthday so I could throw her a party. To my surprise it was her first birthday party.

Right after her birthday, we opened a bank account for her and for the first time in her life, her signature meant something and had weight. Her money is in her name now and only she can access it. No time wasted.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

What I Love Most

It's a shame that I can't keep up with the blog, so much has and is happening.

In Bangladesh currently, shooting a wonderful feature for a Bengali director and with local and Indian crew. I was able to bring Baaskaa along as a camera intern and today was the first time that he was allowed to hold the camera. You have to earn this, it's an honor, only given after weeks of watching and learning. 

 Seeing him hold the Alexa makes my heart beat faster!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Woman's Eye

Yesterday I was featured as the Person of the Day on The Women's Eye's blog. Although the title says it clearly, I sort of missed the fact that I got dethroned already, after 24 hours. 

But here it is; it's a nice write up of my work and organization.

The Women's Eye:

Cinematographer Martina Radwan Gives New Life To Mongolia’s Street Children

                                        Martina Radwan and Baaskaa in Mongolia
                                   Martina Radwan and Baaskaa in Mongolia

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Last Day in Mongolia.

It’s difficult. Baaskaa is often closed-off and withdrawn and I can’t figure out why. He works every day, so I only get to see him in the evening. So far, he brought a friend home every night, which in general I have nothing against, except that he often uses them as a shield, not to get close to me.
In addition there are all these battles that you have to fight with every teenager, but with one who never had guidance in particular. I ask him to do something – in his interest – he says he will, and of course, he never does, which turns me into a nagging mother. Remember....?!
He has never learned how to pursue a goal. His goals are often out of reach that he sets himself up for failure; consequently he gets depressed and gives up. He doesn’t know that success has a lot to do with making a lot of baby steps, many of them boring. It’s tough, to top it off, he is now at an age when he doesn’t want to be told what to do.
This NYT article describes the hard ship of lacking sufficient support pretty well. Although the featured girls are way ahead of him, they still deal with the similar issues.

His lack of know-how is another reason why I want him to come to NYC. Foremost I want him to learn English, which will be the first step of achieving something that yields instant results; he’ll be able to communicate with me, his environment and it will enhance his chances for a better job at home. Additionally I also want him to be with me for an extended period of time, so I can teach him how to pursue goals. Not that I know it all, or that I am the greatest teacher, but I am pretty much the only one around right now.

But I have to admit, I hit a wall, I am not superwoman. It's hard to give and do and stay cheerful
for a long time, without getting much in return, while away from everything that gives me comfort.

I have to remind myself where he comes from, although that's not how I want to define him. However, I am always amazed how well he is together, given his upbringing, so when I hit a wall, I have to shift focus onto how much he has achieved in a short time.
Last night I got a glimpse of his inner turmoil; clearly sad about my imminent leave, but without looking at me, he asked when I’ll return. All I can think off is “I am still here, talk to me!”
This traditional coat, called deel, was my welcome gift from Baaskaa. He must have spent more then a third of his monthly salary to buy it for me, which broke my heart. The round sign, a common symbol in Mongolia, means happiness.  
I swear, if he will come to NY, I will wear it to pick him up from the airport.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It is a cold winter in Mongolia.

My friends warned me before I came, they said this winter is cold, but I didn't believe them. I do now.  
It is cold. 
On good days it's only -18F. There are bad days as well. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Early Christmas Party

They didn’t believe me when I said I’d throw a Christmas party, but once the boys saw it they all had big smiles on their faces and it became a Facebook event.
It just took some nice decoration, a fake tree, candle light and of course, a couple of small presents to make them happy. Knowing what happened at home makes it all the more enjoyable to see a bunch of teenage boys enjoy themselves (they are really young adults at this point!). 


Friday, December 7, 2012

Another trip to Mongolia.


Although I had been in Mongolia three times this year, I wanted to return before Baaskaa's work season ends, because I was worried he'd have another rough winter.
However, I was wrong, he had figured it out. When his out of town job ended in mid November, he and two of his close friends returned to the city, rented a room and found work on another construction site.
Last winter Baaskaa and I had discussed his housing option and when I suggested to rent a room with his friends, he told me that it’s not done. Young people don’t live on their own; they live with their families or relatives. He did keep asking questions though, how much it would cost per month and where one could find such a room, to which I could only give vague answers. Now, eight month later, he did exactly that; he and two of his closed friends had managed to find a place so they could share costs and responsibilities.
It is fulfilling to see results of my efforts, but once again, it became clear that all he needs is some inspiration and knowledge. His past has conditioned him to believe that things we take for granted are out of reach for him. It has become my main effort is to teach him to overcome these old belief systems and habits.
Exactly that is my mission now. I want to bring him temporarily to the US, so he can learn English, which in return will enhance his chances to get a good job next spring. I also want him to experience New York’s melting pot and witness how people use their imagination and wits to create a life for themselves.
That said, our chances to get a visa are not great. Temporary visitor are seen as potential immigrant, so it’s up to him to proof that he will return and not become a burden to the American taxpayer. The way to do that is to provide proof of social ties, which of course, as a 20-year old orphan, he can’t. He’d need a family, a steady job and assets to qualify as a visitor. Although I understand the policies of it all, it irritates me that he is repeatedly punished for something that is out of his control.
To make up for it, I have gathered numerous supporting documents, tax returns, bank statements and letters of support from American friends who worked in UB and got to know him. I even cut together a short “character reel” to show Baaskaa’s sincerity and connection to his homeland. I have chosen an ESL program for him and rearranged my studio apartment so I can accommodate another bed. I am putting it out there!
We will apply for a visa as soon as I arrive, but it mainly dependents on the interview which will happen in a couple of weeks.
So please, I can use as many crossed fingers as I can get and it’s never too early to start!