Bollywood actor Abhay Deol is supporting a good cause in Goa.
He met a group of community filmmakers from slums and villages around India trained by Video Volunteers, a media organization for which Deol serves as an ambassador.
Says Deol, “As a filmmaker, I try to make films that are closer to life and have stories of common people. These community correspondents are doing the same, bringing forth the voice of people who are seldom heard in the media.”
One of the correspondents is Rohini Pawar – a 26 year old woman from Walhe, a small village in western India. In Rohini’s village, the roads are in disrepair, the nearest health center is over a hundred miles away and women are treated like second class citizens.
For the past 10 months, Rohini, who was married at age 16, has been trying to change that by bringing these issues to light as a community correspondent.
She has taken a loan from her microcredit to buy a computer – the first person in her village to do so – and is happy that she no longer needs to travel for hours to find cybercafés and expects the computer to help her raise her income considerably.
For the last eight years, over one hundred VV community correspondents like Rohini have shown their work once a week on large screens set up in the village square.
Villagers are excited to see themselves on screen, and after the showings, discuss solutions and take action. In one such case, after they saw a video on sexual harassment, a slum in Mumbai forced the local police to introduce a telephone number that city women can call on and report sexual abuse.
In another case in eastern India, they forced the district administration to suspend some school teachers who took bribes from village students.
The community filmmakers are attending a Video News Training Camp of 40 community correspondents covering every state that runs until 9 March.
On January 15, VV launched a weekly news programme on NewsX, a leading Indian news channel, giving their stories an even greater reach. Says Deol, “Video Volunteers’ work is an amazing story of digital empowerment and is the beginning of a media revolution where no voice goes unheard.”
The work of Video Volunteers can provide real life inspiration for overseas Indians, and those keen to make a difference in India.