Despite a proliferation of news channels and publications in India, often the mainstream media is unable to reach the far corners of the country. A unique citizen journalism venture called Video Volunteers (VV) is bridging the gap, especially in rural belts.
Started in 2003, Video Volunteers, a non-profit organisation, is led jointly by Jessica Mayberry and Stalin K.
Video Volunteers programs include Community Video Units, IndiaUnheard – Community News Service, Community Radio Forum, Girl Powered Videos, Videoshala E-CVUs and Videos for Livelihood.
All these programs are providing disadvantaged communities with the journalistic, critical thinking and creative skill that help them articulate and share their perspectives on both local and global levels.
“Video Volunteers is working to create an alternative media landscape in which thousands of rural and poor people around the world can produce high quality video content that brings awareness to communities and empowers them to take action,” says Jessica Mayberry, Founder and Executive Director of VV.
Jessica started the organization in September, 2003, after spending a year training rural Indian women in filmmaking as a Fellow of the American India Foundation. Jessica believes that video technology can empower the poor (women especially) to find a voice.
“Our work has earned us several awards including the prestigious Manthan Award South Asia ‘09 and grants from the Knight News Challenge and the Echoing Green Foundation,” says Jessica.
VV has also won a 2006 Tech Museum Award and the NYU Stern Business School Social Business Plan Competition in 2008.
VV has also launched IndiaUnheard, the first ever community news service. This new initiative is constituted of a network of community correspondents who are trained to tell unique stories; stories about their own communities; stories which are otherwise left untold.
By feeding this community-produced content to national and international outlets, such as mainstream television channels and social networking sites, IndiaUnheard links rural communities with a truly global audience.
“Through bridging these worlds, IndiaUnheard empowers communities to create real change on real issues affecting their lives,” says Jessica.
One of the primary missions of each Community Video Unit is to encourage local people to take action on the issues presented in the videos, which, in turn, would bring in a change.
In most cases, a single video goes way beyond changing the status quo in one village and sparks a chain of impacts. For example, when one village community took action to demand access to safe water in Surendranagar district of Gujarat after a film screening, several others followed. This finally led to provision of water in over a dozen villages.
According to VV, the mission of the initiative is to empower the world’s poorest citizens to participate in the community media movement so they can right the wrongs they witness and become players in the global media revolution.
“Providing disadvantaged communities with the journalistic, critical thinking and creative skill they need, we create financially self-sustaining, locally-owned grassroots projects that teach people to articulate and share their perspectives on the issues that matter to them, on a local and a global scale,” says Jessica.
Video Volunteers is an event partner for Socially Positive and will be part of the jury to judge video entries. You can also raise support for an NGO by making a short film. You will not just use your creativity for good but also stand a chance to win exciting prizes.
: : By Sujoy Dhar : :