On December 16, 2014, 132 innocent children ranging between the ages of 8 and 18 lost their lives in the aftermath of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks conducted by TTP on Army Public School, Peshawar. The whole country mourned for days and months after the tragedy and the lives 0f 1099 students and teachers who were present inside the school were changed forever. Shaheer, a 14 year old student who lost his life in the attack left a mourning family of 5. His brother Muhammad Muneeb Khan was also present in the school when the terrorists opened fire on the innocent kids.
Muhammad Muneeb Khan was one one of the survivors who has ever since been dealing with Post Stress Trauma (PTSD) and survivor’s guilt for not being able to save his own brother and this is his story:
While most of us went back to going about our businesses a week after the tragedy, life was never the same for the victims’ families.
Even though we all vowed to #NeverForget the incident, we somehow did. This is where Danial Afzal comes in; Danial captured Muneeb’s struggles through a documentary called The Survivor
Danial Afzal left his well-paid job at AT&T in Chicago, Illinois, and moved home to Pakistan to pursue a career in film production. He joined Pakistan Television Network as a sports anchor and earned an opportunity to cover the Peshawar attack for a show I helped host called: The Young World.
While talking to MangoBaaz, Danial Afzal the creator and director of The Survivor said, “Two years after the incident, our media was still talking about the attack in Peshawar. They were reporting and re-reporting about the ways the rifled terrorists had entered the Army school and shot 144 kids. As the media in Pakistan does not recognize mental conditions as an actual ailment, I figured it would be up to me to find out how the families were doing after suffering the loss of their children. I pitched my idea to a couple of companies, as well as the army, to help facilitate and realize my vision, but they had instantly refused and deemed my idea a threat to security. I decided to take the whole project upon myself and track down the kids that survived the attack.”
Danial tracked down Muneeb’s sister Momina Khan, traveled to Peshawar, spent a considerable amount of time with Muneeb and eventually ended up capturing his struggles in his documentary.
“After talking to multiple people and networking for connections, I got in touch with Muneeb’s sister, Momina Khan. I traveled to Peshawar and befriended Muneeb, then spent a few days getting to know him. Gradually, he opened up about what had happened to him and his brother, and how his family was taking it.
I used a tape recorder during our conversations to better understand his story, and through further analysis, I realized that Muneeb used video games to better deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
He later divulged that he would like to build his own video game; a game that would teach kids how to defend themselves against terrorist attacks in Pakistan. That was the point where it all hit me! Muneeb’s admirable dream would be the foundation of a short film I would direct in order to share his story. Through this incident in Muneeb’s life, I would show the people of our country how hard it is to have PTSD. Today, I am proud to have helped a survivor better deal with his demons and escape the dark confines of his own mind. He continues to apply to visual arts schools nationally and globally. I cannot wait to see him flourish in his personal and professional life, and set an example for other survivors that are unable to move forward. I am so excited for Muneeb’s dream to become a reality!” says Danial.
The film is basically Muneeb narrating his personal statement for Arts school to the audience. Through his statement, we get a glimpse into his struggle with PTSD and survivor’s guilt after his brother’s death. He is currently applying to Art Schools in the US to pursue game design.
Muneeb deals with his post stress trauma by playing video games and he wants to pursue game design so he can develop games that can help Pakistani kids learn self defense
Muneeb’s mother does not want him to go to the USA because she’s just so afraid of sending her other son away from her eyes. But he hopes that once she sees through his plans, she will understand and so do we. Muneeb represents so many others who have had to go through the same ordeal. His story will serve as a gateway to mental illnesses that follow tragedies like these. Here’s hoping that documentary makes an impact that it’s intended to.
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Cover Image Via: Danial Afzal