Stories Lived

This Earth

At 89 years old, Gulzhan Butabayevna wakes up a 5am every morning to take care of her garden and the food that grows in it. With nine grandchildren ready to take care of her, it is puzzling why she refuses to take the rest she deserves, until she speaks of the hunger she had to endure as a child. Three years old at the start of the Second World War, her father was taken to the front and her mother was left alone to take care of four small children. Little by little, she fed them enough to keep them from starving, often resorting to moldy vegetables discarded by wealthier families or weeds boiled into a soup. After the end of the war, seeds became available, and Gulzhan Butabyevna made sure that food would never be unattainable again. With three marriages that failed because of alcohol and abuse, her relationship with the earth is the only one that has maintained its co-dependence and beauty. For the past seventy years, every day she has held the soil that gave her life in her hands, and has no intention to stop.


About the Filmmaker
Submitted by Kamila Daurenova

Kamila Daurenova is a Film and Television student at New York University. Born in Oskemen, Kazakhstan, directing felt like a career open only to men, so she started to pursue a degree in Biomedicine and make small movies as a hobby. She left this field of study when NYU offered her a full scholarship, and now lives in New York. Aside from her studies, Kamila writes theatre reviews for the Washington Square News and fashion articles for