Team Bertho: The Storytelling Platform Creating Hope

Cora-Laine Moynihan

There is something in words that speak directly to our minds, our hearts, and our souls. This something has travelled centuries, empowered nations, and bound connections. It has pulled us from the darkest depths of our troubles out into the bright glow of hope and possibilities. And it is this something in words that inspired three Bangladeshi teenagers to change the world with stories.

From gossip columns and lifestyle magazines to watching celebrities’ lives documented on social media, biographical stories fascinate modern culture. The challenges a person overcomes, the aspirational lives they live, and the very way their stories are told hook into us like a fishing line. These tales with a lesson inside are bait, calling to us to learn from it. And it is by appealing to this fascination that Team Bertho have built their storytelling platform. 

In 2016, Mushidul, Redwanul, and Faiaz created the award-winning youth-led platform, Team Bertho, which spreads human wisdom through narrative projects that use various art forms and digital media. Through words and art, they work towards creating “a community of empathetic human beings who live, learn and share in order to make meaningful psycho-social and emotional contributions to themselves, and the society at large.” Seven years on, the project has evolved into a bona fide organisation of 14 members and numerous volunteers who strive to direct education onto a more realistic path – sharing insights and motivations everyone can learn from. 

With a worldwide reach impacting  more than 450,000 people from 79 countries, Team Bertho documents and shares life stories through many mediums including short films, letters, web series, and even a book called Fuelling Hope – a collection of anecdotes collected from individuals globally. And it is within this book that Team Bertho’s purpose is truly highlighted. That being a gesture of love to the world and all its people. A hand reaching out to guide those that feel lost, distanced from others. A warm embrace enveloping all of humanity. 

“Never let your dreams die”; “Learn to live for yourself”; and my personal favourite, “You just need a kick” are a few examples of life lessons accompanied by personal stories presented in Fuelling Hope. It’s a compendium of positivity, encouraging you to keep fighting no matter how life gets. And its stories are from the lives of people like you and me. Not some celebrity trying to make some quick extra bucks.  Each individual faces entirely unique obstacles yet their lessons, their values, are applicable to every person on this planet. 

Although Team Bertho presents hope on a universal scale in their book, they also do not shy away from using storytelling to address social issues. Starting their project’s journey, Murshidul, Risad and Faiaz initially turned to short films as their platform. Completely self-funded and self-produced, the short films addressed issues such as depression, suicide, and rape – creating a dialogue around these taboo subjects. In 2020, one of their films, “Simpering”, which showcases how every smile in every part of our society is beautiful in their own way, won the UNICEF Certificate of Merit for Rights Education (Corti a Ponte 2020). Since then, Team Bertho received The Diana Award 2021, the highest accolade for a young person to achieve for social actions and humanitarian efforts, amongst other recognitions for their social action work.

They saw bad in the world and chose to create good.

Team Bertho took the power of words and impacted the world in the best way they could. They used the moving nature of storytelling to make us think, to make us dream, and to make us hope. They saw bad in the world and chose to create good. That something I spoke of in words, it is whatever we decide it to be and Team Bertho chose to make it an aid in combating all that is wrong. They made it a light in the dark. What would you make of it?

Cora-Laine Moynihan

Featured image courtesy of Team Bertho. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image

In-article images courtesy of Team Bertho. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image

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