Brainfeed in collaboration with The First Step talks to social activist, experienced orator and Guinness World Records holder Shazana Shariff
Please brief us about your campaign Save Indian Farmers.
At 8 years old, I was acquainted with the peril of Indian farmers—poverty, the worst violence pushing them to suicide. I was compelled to take up the cause of Save The Farmers. I took a field trip to a village in Tamil Nadu. On that trip, I met a woman— a widow with three children and an acre of land. she was struggling to make her ends meet. With her bare resources, it was impossible to cultivate the land. I decided to shelter her and cover the farming expenditures to help her fetch some farm produce. Since then, the campaign was initiated and has remained as an integral part of my life. I have been in Singapore speaking about farmers’ plight in the World of Kidz on behalf of Indian farmers.
How was your experience speaking at the forums worldwide?
I remember being a panellist at Art of Parenting talk show. I was flanked by four other children, and I was assigned to debate against parents pressurizing children to achieve academic excellence. I was extremely jittery for being watched by a huge number of audiences. Their eyes were glued on me when I was presenting my views. Until I began to present my views, I could not be at all confident.
“I come from Tamil Nadu, one of the largest rice producing states of India. Lately due to climatic change, a lot of farmers have been facing adverse water situation for the past two years. So helping farmers seemed to be the right thing to me.”
Once I finished up, I received an overwhelming acknowledgment from the judges and audiences. It was my first stepping-stone that built within me the self-confidence I would require in the later years to achieve success. I think, no matter how good a speaker you are, the butterfly-in-stomach feeling will linger.
What inspired you to embark on the journey of comic writing?
I have travelled extensively for three years promoting Save The Farmers campaign, and I wanted to chronicle this experience using illustration and words, sparingly. Hence, I launched my own comic series called Little Shazu’s Farm Tales on YouTube. It articulates the struggles of farmers through sketches and thought balloons, just like comic books. My art asks questions about the ordeal and poverty that plague farmers in India and seeks remedies for the situation.
Who inspires you in art?
Well, I am a fan of Sudha Murthy. Also, I have received endless support and encouragement from my leadership coach Deepa ma’am, founder of Green Change Movement. She has inculcated art in me.
I launched my own comic series called Little Shazu’s Farm Tales on YouTube.
What is your dream with the campaign?
I have done ground research to collect data on the farmers’ crises to push new policies and bills in favour of Indian farmers. I aim to bring significant changes in farmers’ lives to stop them from committing suicide. I dream of being recognized by the United Nation one day for my contributions and hard work.