Incidentally, much of the world is unaware of this picturesque environment — something that Aroosa Ally wanted to change. In 2016, at age 20, Aroosa decided to go on a journey through northern Pakistan taking photographs to showcase the beauty of her surroundings that she would ultimately share with the world through an exhibition called Being the Change.
Aroosa was born in Pakistan and says her love for the country began at a young age. As a child, her family moved to Dubai where she gained a passion for photography. Now, Aroosa lives in Atlanta. Upon moving to the USA, she learned of some misconceptions the western world has of her birthplace.
“Society only knew of the facts that were given to them through various media outlets but no one knew the true beauty and innocence behind such a precious country,” Aroosa said of Pakistan.
Aroosa travelled to her birthplace with her camera, a team, and a mission: “I was determined to show the world the exquisiteness behind the things society viewed as ordinary and small,” she said.
The journey focused on Hunza, which Aroosa said was the ideal location to accomplish her goal of highlighting the beauty of Pakistan.
“Hunza was a town that had come long and far on the journey of change with the help of many factors. One of the prime factors which played a key role in the development of the town, was the work of the many NGOs,” Aroosa said. “The topics of education and women empowerment were just some of the key factors that the NGOs in Hunza were focused upon. Among these organisations, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), has left a lasting impact. The many projects and programmes of AKF have come to shape and build Hunza into the vigorous and flourishing town known for its immense beauty.”
The photographs depict the people of Hunza in their daily lives; working on crafts, tending to livestock, attending school, preparing meals, and playing music. The images also highlight the stunning landscapes in the region; towering mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, rows of trees, and starry night skies.
When Aroosa returned from her trip, she began to compile her images into the Being the Change exhibition, which has travelled around the world from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Karachi, to Atlanta, Alabama, and Texas. Most recently, the exhibition was on display in Islamabad on 13 December.
Through her eye for detail and focus on the natural scene, Aroosa has brought to life the trivial phenomena of the ordinary and unknown.
“I was determined to allow the outside world to see the true reality and the purity of the cities full of treasures and selflessness. I want to portray the untold stories. I want to tell the tale of that which is a mystery,” Aroosa said. “My efforts to portray such a message are shown throughout the photos, as I present photography of the delicate scenery as well as the culture and civilisation, which makes Hunza a town of unconditional beauty and affection.”
Notable attendees at the exhibition have included Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, Minister of State for Tolerance in the UAE Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Khalid, US Consulate General in Karachi Grace W. Shelton, Ismaili Council for Pakistan President Hafiz Sherali, and founder and CEO of Hashoo Group Sadruddin Hashwani.