Segments in this Video

Volunteer-Run Hospital (04:03)


In Pakistan, only 22% of women participate in the workforce; the rest spend their time as wives, mothers, and daughters. On October 8, 2005, an earthquake rocked northern Pakistan. Roughly 700 survivors suffered spinal injuries.

Promises and Engagements (03:36)

At the Melody Relief and Rehabilitation Center, head physician Dr. Farah says spinal injury victims have not been told the truth because it is important for them to remain hopeful. Seventeen-year-old Ruqiya believes that once the wound on her back has healed, she will be able to walk again. Her sister, Bushra, has promised to take care of her if she does not heal.

A Survivor's Perspective (02:19)

Spinal injury victim Khalida tells of her father being found dead after the earthquake; she wishes she was able to speak with him or visit his grave to pray. Her home, located in a mountainous region called Rangla, has been destroyed.

Remote Village (02:46)

Mehmooda, Khalida's mother, tends to livestock in Rangla where she lives with Khalida's brother and sister-in-law. Khalida’s brother, Liaqat, describes how difficult life would be in the village for wheelchair-bound Khalida. He has given her permission to live elsewhere if she finds a job.

Strong Girl (02:31)

In the rehabilitation center, caretakers help Ruqiya practice raising her arms and exercising. She says her balance is difficult because of a wound on her hip.

Ruqiya's Engagement (02:58)

A three-hour drive from the Melody Center is Muzaffarabad, Pakistan— Ruqiya's hometown. Her family home now contains her father, Muhammad, and other relatives. Her father prays her fiancé will accept her as a wife despite her injury and for God to fix her legs.

Disabled People Are People (03:48)

Four months into their stays at the Melody Center, Ruqiya and Khalida have been told that they will never walk again. Ruqiya talks about a boy coming to see her and maintains that her faith in God will allow her to walk again once her wound has healed.

Welcoming Khalida Home (03:21)

In January of 2006, the Melody Center is shut down and the patients are relocated to the National Institute for the Handicapped in Islamabad. Eight months after the earthquake, Khalida visits home for the first time. Her brothers take leave from the army and neighbors gather to welcome her home.

Boys and Marriage (02:13)

Ruqiya still wants to get married despite her injury, and feels confident that she and her sister can fully take care of her. She says that the attendants should be sent home.

One Question (02:07)

At home, Khalida suffers from feelings of helplessness and isolation, with no other disabled people near here. Multiple people are required to help her to move from inside to outside and her depressed mood causes her health to deteriorate.

Family's Comforts (02:34)

During rainfall, Khalida cries out from the pains in her body despite already having taken painkillers. Her mother tells her to sleep to avoid a headache and her brother encourages her to eat.

The Future (02:29)

At the National Institute for the Handicapped, Ruqiya spends time with her fiancé, Saleem, while sitting in her wheelchair. He insists that she will be able to walk again because he does not do household work for himself. He says that she cannot stay at home forever.

Power and Strength (03:00)

Khalida's family bids her a tearful farewell as she loads up into a vehicle to travel back to the National Institute for the Handicapped. A young relative tries to go with her.

Good Effort (02:08)

When Khalida arrives back at the National Institute for the Handicapped, she is greeted warmly by her fellow patients and attendants. An attendant tells her it is her responsibility to wheel herself around.

Practice From the Heart (03:26)

Khalida's attendant encourages her to do things for herself and reiterates how important her independence is by reminding her that her parents will not live forever. Khalida agrees and confirms that she does not like being fully taken care of. Ruqiya's wound has healed, so she moves back home, where her brother discusses what will be done about her future depending on whether or not she gets better.

A Happy Occasion (02:21)

Ruqiya says that there is no rush for her to marry and that she has been encouraging her fiancé to marry someone else. She discusses her reasoning for him to get married sooner than she will be able to, and refuses to make an emotional decision about the marriage. Khalida practices her exercises.

Four Years Later Post Earthquake (02:44)

Khalida is at home preparing to go to work in her wheelchair. Her brother Liaqat no longer worries about her well-being and talks about how self-sufficient Khalida has become; she explains the nature of her employment.

Depression and Uncertainty (02:45)

Ruqiya has relinquished her desires to get married. She does not leave the house or work, because her father did not approve of her work outside the home, yet her mother performs jobs outside in order to manage the family's expenses. Ruqiya does not feel educated enough to work outside the home without the help she had in the Institute and blames the changes in India's social climate on the earthquake.

Communal Cooking (03:52)

In Khalida's home, the women trade off doing the cooking, while her brother simply eats the food. Khalida reports that he, Shabbir, does not even know how to make tea, but that everyone contributes and she does much of the work herself.

Importance of Marriage (03:12)

When confronted about the subject of marriage, whether in conversation with her brother or with others, Khalida has little to say openly. Liaqat tells more, saying that their culture is not so backwards and that Khalida is free to speak frankly with her brothers about her marriage wishes. In this way, he has the power to arrange a marriage for her, just as she arranged his marriage.

Try to Heal Her (03:46)

With the help of family members, Ruqiya travels to visit Bushra and her daughter, Rida. Bushra explains the circumstances of her own hasty marriage that she engaged in willingly despite having originally promised Ruqiya that she would not marry. Ruqiya's brother Zafar agrees that Ruqiya would perhaps dwell less on her disability if she got out of the house more, but says that it is her own embarrassment that keeps her inside.

Her Hands Are Tied (02:44)

Three years prior, Mehmooda, Khalida's mother, suffered a stroke. Mehmooda says it is only because of Khalida's disability that she is permitted to live outside the family home and work in the city. Khalida's sister-in-law describes the challenges that women face in India and why she would rather not have a daughter.

Nothing to Think About (03:05)

Ruqiya's family works together to get her wheelchair down a hill and into a car so she can travel back to her home. Ruqiya says that her former fiancée Saleem was married off to someone else, but because of an accident involving a death, Saleem is now in prison for murder.

Embarrassment and Freedom (03:02)

Khalida is grateful to live with other disabled women who she can share her struggles with and misses them when she returns to her village to visit. Ruqiya has been given certain freedoms, like permission to cut her hair, which she would not have if she was not disabled.

Dealt a Bad Hand (02:40)

Khalida's only dream is to get married; she wishes for nothing else. She feels God has dealt her a bad hand. Five years after incurring her injury, Khalida walks home with the assistance of her brother.

Credits: The Ground Beneath Their Feet (02:28)

Credits: The Ground Beneath Their Feet

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The Ground Beneath Their Feet

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For Pakistani girls who suffered spinal injuries in the devastating 2005 earthquake, two big questions hang over their futures. Will I ever walk again? And will I ever marry? While most Pakistani girls are destined from birth to be wives and mothers, Khalida and Ruqiya's injuries have just have opened the doors to a life less ordinary. Shot over 4 years, we follow the pair as they come of age in a country that prizes marriage above all else.

Length: 76 minutes

Item#: FMK118396

ISBN: 978-1-63521-999-9

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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