People

Project Team

Natasha RahejaFounder and Director
Natasha is finally moving forward with an idea that has been ruminating in her head for years now! What began as informal conversations with Sindhi elders during a year-long stay in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh has grown into the Sindhi Voices Project.  She’s very excited to realize this project through the collaboration and support of an expanding network of awesome people and ideas. Intrigued by questions of belonging, she hopes this initiative, by means of the oral history interview, will broaden her own sight as well as complicate static notions of identity and community at large.   Having recently completed her M.A. in Asian Cultures and Languages from the University of Texas at Austin, Natasha worked on the project full-time from Delhi, India in 2010-2011. In 2011, she started her PhD in Anthropology at New York University.

Neena Makhija, Director

Neena’s passion for this project can be traced to her grandmother’s home, the place she began hearing many of her family’s stories of migration and displacement. Listening to the details of these stories contributed to the past several years of her work with immigrant communities in areas of youth mentorship, culturally centered curriculum development, inter-personal violence prevention, and workers’ rights. She has recently completed an M.A. in both Social Work and Public Administration from the University of Washington (UW) with concentrations in critical development studies, historical trauma & cultural resilience, and evaluation of participatory programs. In between classes, witnessing & experiencing healing via creative expression and performing arts inspired her to re-visit the potential of sharing and listening to stories. She was one of the fellows of the 2011 Digital Research Summer Institute at the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities.

Advisory Committee

(Photo Coming Soon)

Robin Li, Research Specialist at The Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office, UC Berkeley
Robin Li is a Research Specialist at The Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley. Li received her PhD from the University of Michigan in American Culture in 2006, where she studied U.S. cultural history and identity formation, with a focus on race, ethnicity and memory.  Within oral history, her interest is in the integrated processes of self-narration, identity and history. Li’s research interests include transnational identity formation, narrations of science, the US in the world, and cultural history. She is currently at work on a book manuscript exploring the intertwined narrations of US and Chinese nationalisms through the oral histories of mid-twentieth century Chinese student immigrants.

Sahar Ali, Country Representative for Panos Pakistan
Sahar has over 20 years of professional experience in media and development in Pakistan and overseas.     While her journalistic experience spans 20 years, Sahar’s work in development has also had a distinct media and communication focus. In mainstream media, Sahar has worked at two newspapers, The News in Pakistan and Khaleej Times in Dubai. She has also contributed articles to a range of national and international publications. Sahar has also dabbled in broadcast media in Pakistan, co-hosting a weekly radio programme (Cloud 89 on City FM 89) and a daily TV show, The First Blast on Dawn News. Sahar is currently the Country Representative of Panos in Pakistan, a media development organisation with offices across South Asia and in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and North America. In 2009, Sahar received training as an oral testimony trainer as part of a regional project, Positive Voices, to collect oral testimonies of women living with HIV in South Asia. Sahar not only managed the project, but was among 12 trainers from five countries who trained national teams to collect oral testimonies. They, in turn, trained 23 women to record oral testimony interviews of HIV+ women from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. Over 90 testimonies have been collected under Positive Voices.
Sapna Shahani, Founder-Director of WAVE
Sapna Shahani initiated WAVE (Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment) to encourage young women around India to voice their perspectives on social change through videoblogging. Sapna grew up in Bombay and moved to the US to study mass communications and theatre at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. After college, she worked for India-West newspaper and later Berkeley Community Media, a public access TV station, in the Bay Area for six years. At BCM, she became inspired by the idea of people making their own media and communicating for positive change in their local areas. Sapna also co-founded Yoni ki Baat, an annual performance of original South Asian women’s monologues inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. In 2005, she returned to India to contribute her knowledge of community media and is thrilled to have had the opportunity to successfully implement a pan-Indian women videoblogger’s network, thanks to winning the 2009 Digital Media and Learning competition, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation.
Sapna’s inspiration to serve society comes from her grandfather, Manghoram Shahani, who ran a book library in Bombay after being displaced from the Philippines and Sindh in 1947, and from her father Surinder Shahani. She hopes to help Sindhi Voices share stories of elders like them, that may inspire younger generations to carry forward their messages of peace and integrity.
Sarah Singh, Independent Artist and Filmmaker
Sarah Singh is an artist and filmmaker and descendant from one of India’s royal families.  She was born in Patiala, Punjab, India and has lived in the United States since 1974.  Much of her fine art from the last 15 years is included in private collections.  Sarah has worked in the film and television industry in New York for over 5 years.  Her work as a cinematographer, editor, director, and writer has been featured in MTV, Showtime, and History Channel, along with many independent films. The Sky Below, her first feature-length documentary which explores the India-Pakistan history and border, won Best Film Debut. Included in many academic courses, this award-winning documentary has screened across the world in museums, think tanks, festivals, universities, and for cultural and community-based organizations.
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