The Weekend Leader - Go, Goa

India Unheard team gathers in Goa for training programme; more reporters to join

Kavita Kanan Chandra   |   Mumbai


Vol 2 | Issue 7

Community correspondents of India’s first community based news service, India Unheard, run by the NGO Video Volunteers have landed in Goa for a ten-day training programme at their headquarters. About twenty six reporters from 24 states belonging to the country’s marginalized sections of society will discuss the ground realities and challenges of reporting from within their community at the programme, which began on February 19.

Video Volunteers was founded by a husband and wife team: Stalin K and Jessica Mayberry. The Weekend Leader wrote about their work and vision in a recent article.

“When we selected these correspondents they didn’t even know how to handle a camera,” said Stella, Communications Officer at Video Volunteer. Nine months on, the same correspondents are being given advanced training in video documentation.

Next week, 25 new community correspondents (including those from the states of Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim) would be trained from the scratch. The local NGOs identify potential community correspondents, who are familiar with the issues facing their community. The selected members are later trained by Video Volunteers.

Many have been quick learners and are doing stories in the interests of the downtrodden. Ajit Bahadur (39 yrs) from Allahabad related how he collected evidence against an influential self-style Yoga Guru who had grabbed land from the ‘Dalits’ to expand his ‘Ashram’. Ajit was followed by a jeep full of the Yogi’s goons and threatened too, but he interviewed the victims and when the story was out, the ‘Dalits’ got organised and have filed a case in High Court against the Yogi.

Sunita Kasera, a 35-year-old mother of three from Karauli (Rajasthan) has made video on pregnant ladies not getting their due from the Government. She loves reporting and takes pride in being the only female committee member of the local district journalists’ association.

The job of a community correspondent is not without risk. Recently, Bhansahu, a widow in her mid-forties, who does stories on tribal rights in Rajnandgaon (Chhatisgarh) was threatened and taken by police as a Naxalite suspect. But, she is not scared and wants to carry on with her job.

In spite of the challenges they face, the community correspondents love their job and derive satisfaction that their videos are being viewed by thousands across the globe through the internet and that they are making an impact to better the lives of the neglected sections of society.

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