magho (Daughter)

Eighteen-year-old Maheshwari comes from a family of quarry workers in rural India, none of whom completed schooling past the eighth grade. For the first four years of Maheshwari’s life, it seemed she would follow a similar path: Waking at 5 a.m. to start the household chores, marrying young, bearing children, and bringing in money through odd jobs wherever she could. Instead, she was selected by the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project to attend their boarding school, a brush with fate that would change the trajectory of her entire life.

This short documentary follows her through her final week at her beloved school, her last visit home before leaving for college, and her steps across the stage to receive the first high school diploma in her family. Throughout, she reflects on the stark differences between her life and that of her mother, and vows that whatever her future brings, she will not leave her behind. In a country where only 2 out of every 5 women can read and write, education propelled Maheshwari into a new life path, one that will break the cycle of poverty not only for her — but hopefully, for those she loves as well.

My co-director for this film was Christen Brandt, co-founder and director of international operations for She's the First, a nonprofit that sponsors girls' education in ten countries. 

The film was an official selection at the Asheville Cinema Festival, the Silent River Film Festival, and the Poverty Cure International Short Film Festival.

Learn more at shesthefirst.org/magho