One Man’s Fight Against Maternal Mortality: A Motherland Afghanistan Update

By Sedika Mojadidi
Director of Motherland Afghanistan

In Motherland Aghanistan, which aired on Global Voices in May, Afghan American filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi journeys to the heart of this medical tragedy by following her father’s (Dr. Qudrat Mojadidi) return to Afghanistan to battle one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Sedika Mojadidi provided BTB an update on her father’s work, both in Afghanistan and the United States, and shares some insight on her own recent projects.

Sedika with her father, Dr. Qudrat Mojadidi

After completion of Motherland Afghanistan, Dr. Mojadidi returned to Kabul to begin a three-year stint training doctors at the Cure International Hospital. There, he founded the country’s first and only Fistula Care Center where hundreds of Afghan women suffering from fistulas throughout the country receive top surgical repair and a chance at a new life.

Returning to the US, Dr. Mojadidi joined the Navajo Indian Hospital’s Maternity Ward in Tuba City, Arizona, where he continues his work with the Navajo community training doctors at the hospital. Yearly, Dr. Mojadidi returns to Afghanistan for a month to volunteer at several hospitals in Kabul. Despite the ongoing challenges of working in Afghanistan, he still considers the experience rich and worthwhile, though he does feel the country’s future is precarious at best.

Based in New York and Kabul, Sedika continues working as a documentary producer and camerawoman in Afghanistan. Last year, she directed a documentary on young Afghans training to become journalists in the country. Currently, Sedika is documenting the year before the American troops withdrew from Afghanistan through various conversations with Afghans, asking them what they think of the past 11 years, the strides and mistakes made, and their fears and hopes for the future.

Director Sedika Mojadidi on Filming Her Father in Motherland Afghanistan

Director Sedika Mojadidi

One in seven Afghan women dies in childbirth. Motherland Afghanistan, airing Sunday, May 13 on Global Voices on the WORLD Channel (check listings), introduces the women behind these devastating statistics. Afghan American filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi examines her father’s work as an OB/GYN as he struggles to make a difference. Beyond the Box spoke with Mojadidi about filming such an intimate story alongside her father.

Both your parents are physicians. How did you get into film?

I was always interested in movies. I gravitated toward them naturally, from a young age. And in school, I studied film for a long time, film theory and film history.  I was never good in science or math so it’s ironic that I’m following my parent’s story because growing up I wasn’t really all that interested in medicine.

Your voiceover guides part of the film, but it’s your father’s voice that serves as the chief narrative. Was this your intention all along?

Dr. Qudrat Mojadidi serves as both a principle charcter in the documentary and as the filmmaker's father

It was always my plan. Actually, I never planned to be in the film but that emerged out of the process of making it for two years. After the first trip, we looked at some of the footage of me translating and other producers felt strongly about keeping me in the picture. I fought against it but eventually surrendered. I felt strongly from the get-go that the film needed to be from my father’s perspective. The film needed to be centered around him, his work, and the patients he looked after.

You immigrated to the U.S. when you were very little in 1972. How much of a culture shock was it for you to return to Afghanistan and shoot this film?

Continue reading

Director Sedika Mojadidi on Filming Her Father in Motherland Afghanistan

Director Sedika Mojadidi

One in seven Afghan women dies in childbirth. Motherland Afghanistan, airing Sunday, July 11th on Global Voices, introduces the women behind these devastating statistics. Afghan American filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi examines her father’s work as an OB/GYN as he struggles to make a difference. Beyond the Box spoke with Mojadidi about filming such an intimate story alongside her father.

Both your parents are physicians. How did you get into film?

I was always interested in movies. I gravitated toward them naturally, from a young age. And in school, I studied film for a long time, film theory and film history.  I was never good in science or math so it’s ironic that I’m following my parent’s story because growing up I wasn’t really all that interested in medicine.

Your voiceover guides part of the film, but it’s your father’s voice that serves as the chief narrative. Was this your intention all along?

Dr. Qudrat Mojadidi serves as both a principle charcter in the documentary and as the filmmaker's father

It was always my plan. Actually, I never planned to be in the film but that emerged out of the process of making it for two years. After the first trip, we looked at some of the footage of me translating and other producers felt strongly about keeping me in the picture. I fought against it but eventually surrendered. I felt strongly from the get-go that the film needed to be from my father’s perspective. The film needed to be centered around him, his work, and the patients he looked after.

You immigrated to the U.S. when you were very little in 1972. How much of a culture shock was it for you to return to Afghanistan and shoot this film?

Continue reading