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Tuesday, January 21, 2020: Project Dastaan is a peace project that reconnects refugees of the 1947 Partition to their ancestral homes and communities, communicating their stories to the world through a documentary film and VR experiences. The Project has launched its Crowdfunder on January 17 to expand its scope and create a platform for South Asian education in the UK, USA, India, and Pakistan.

Link to Crowdfunder:

Founded by a group of Oxford University students from Pakistan and India in 2018, the Project is backed by Oxford University, The Catchlight Foundation, Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Peace Prize Recipient), Gabo Arora (former Creative Director at the UN), Suroosh Alvi (CoFounder of Vice Media), and celebrated authors such as William Dalrymple and Aanchal Malhotra.

“I once asked my grandfather what the most important event of his lifetime had been. He didn’t say World War 2 or the Cold War or the development of the atomic bomb. He said, ‘Partition.’ When I asked why, he replied, “Because two-thirds of my neighbors left and I never saw them again”… This is a great project… ”

– Mohsin Hamid, Author, Reluctant Fundamentalist.

“This imaginative project underscores something policymakers on both sides often overlook: the myriad ways in which memory and shared experience continue to knit together present-day India and Pakistan. The value of the project therefore lies not only in the incredible gift it offers to the participants but also in its gentle yet powerful critique of the conflict and dislocation between the two countries.”

– Dr. Kate Sullivan de Estrada, Director of South Asian Studies, University of Oxford.

It has three arms. The Social Impact Program – now the largest VR peace project ever attempted – uses an extensive volunteer network to track down the childhood homes and villages of Partition Witnesses and films them in 360 video. Child of Empire – a flagship VR experience of the Project through which these migration stories will also be used as an educational tool to teach Partition history, and a feature documentary, The Lost Migration, shares first-hand survivor narratives through documentary-style storytelling with Verite art film elements. All three of these initiatives allow viewers from every walk of life to feel connected to this time in history as it covers topics such as immigration, loss, identity, and
lasting trauma — all which are prevalent in today’s world.

By helping the remaining survivors of Partition, the Project seeks to promote a cultural dialogue between the three countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, and educate younger generations about the common ancestries of their predecessors and, most importantly, immortalize the experiences of those who suffered under colonialism and communalism.

“At its heart, the Project is a poignant commentary on its own absurdity. By taking these
refugees back, we are trying to highlight the cultural impact of decades of divisive foreign
policy and sectarian conflict on the subcontinent. This is a task for policymakers, not university students. In an ideal world, a project like this shouldn’t exist.”

– Sparsh Ahuja, Founder & CEO.

“I think Dastaan is ultimately about stripping away the layers of politics and trying to solve a very simple problem: that children forced to leave their homes, have never been able to go back again.”

– Sam Dalrymple, Co-Founder & Operations Lead.

“Project Dastaan is at a stage where we are looking for financial support to sustain our peace-making efforts. We are hopeful that people will come forward to help us by donating and giving public endorsement to the Project so that we can reach more people, raising funds and awareness.”

– Saadia Gardezi, Co-Founder & Pakistan Lead.

“If every descendant of Partition donated $1 to the cause, we’d have over $1.5B to help  preserve our ancestry. That number alone should tell you the amount of people it affects and the lack of representation it holds in modern day media.”

– Shahbano Farid, Director, The Lost Migration

For more details please visit the official website of Project Dastaan, www.projectdastaan.org