Video Volunteers identifies, trains and empowers grassroots media producers who create change in and for voiceless communities in the developing world. With 100 community producers working full-time with salaries, Video Volunteers is one of the largest social change media networks in the world. More than 500 videos on topics like child marriage, temple prostitution, insurgent conflict, atrocities against Dalits and peace between Hindus and Muslims have been produced, and have been seen by more than 300,000 people in live outdoor screenings in slums and villages. Every day people are watching new videos online, and countless more have seen our work on television channels in India.
The impact has been providing information to people, developing local leaders, getting people and government to take action, reducing corruption, enabling the poor to advocate for themselves and giving an income to people in slums and villages. Video Volunteers has records of more than 17,000 villagers and slumdwellers taking concrete action after seeing our films, bringing direct benefit to more than 600,000 people. What is unique about Video Volunteers is our deep knowledge of the communities we work with plus our on-the-ground presence. Our model is low-cost and scalable, enabling us to create a network of media producers in the developing world that provides unique content to news stations, NGO campaigns and foundations alike. The near-term goal is to become a stringers network with a presence in each of India’s 645 districts, giving news stations access to areas of the country that were previously expensive to report from, while enabling those communities to bring attention to their issues.
The work has received awards or funding from Ashoka, The Knight News Challenge, Echoing Green, Edelweiss, TED, UNDP, UNESCO, the Tech Awards, the Development Gateway Awards, the Junior Chamber Interational, Waldzell, and Youtube, among others. We have been covered on National Public Radio, Fast Company Magazine, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Al Jazeera, Nickelodeon, Times of India and Hindustan Times, among others.
Viewers can visit our IndiaUnheard website to watch one new video posted daily, and search our database of videos and articles by theme (health, gender, environment, corruption etc.) or by region. Stories we have taken up include atrocious factory conditions in central India and local schools in which children are forced to pay bribes to take their exams. The young boy who reported this story, himself a graduate of this school, got the local authorities to demote the teacher and stop the bribery for 500 students. Other stories include landgrabbing of Tribals in Eastern India, and corruption in programs aimed at helping the poor build houses, and secure rations. A video by our Community Correspondent, Rohini – herself a former farm worker – on the wage discrepancy between men and women farm laborers resulted in 600 women being paid the minimum wage after she helped them to go on strike, an impact she captured on video. This video explains our ongoing campaign on untouchability. We also have numerous videos that document the process of community media, such as this compilation of many videos, this one on our program creating hyperlocal Community Video Units, and this one on our training process.
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