Video Volunteers Shows Local Indian Documentarians the Power of Video in Changing Communities

How do you use the camera to fight corruption? How can videos get people to demand better services from their government? Video Volunteers, the international media and human rights organization, addressed these and other questions at their recent Community Video Training Camp in Goa. For one week, Video Volunteers Community Correspondents from across India came together to strategize about how their videos can be used locally to create impact.

“The training camp attendees – members themselves of poor Indian communities – were able to learn how to effectively translate local concerns into powerful testimonials to effect change,” says Kamini Menon, Impacts Manager at Video Volunteers. “Video Volunteers’ program of empowering people from the poorest backgrounds as journalists has transformed not only the lives of the videographers themselves, but also the communities in which they live.”

“We have seen a housewife and former farm laborer from Maharashtra named Rohini Powari successfully campaign and secure equal pay for 600 women farm laborers in her village. Another correspondent, Sarwat Naqvi, has been able through his videos to get schools built for children who live in brick-making factories. Our correspondents learned from peers such as Rohini and Sarwat how documenting their struggles on film can lead to social, economic, and political advancement.”

A former auto rickshaw driver, a Dalit teenager, a grassroots human rights activist, and a pharmaceutical factory worker were among the eclectic group of 30 individuals from across India who attended the intensive weeklong workshop. The training camp, now in its third year, opened at the end of September, just as monsoon season was receding.

In the workshop, the community correspondents developed strategies to use their videos – on subjects such as health, corruption, education, and the environment – as a platform for the entire community to campaign for change and justice. The trainees were taught how to hold community screenings and ensure that the people interviewed on video were given the chance to view the finished product. They were taught how to involve local government officials and NGOs in resolving the problem the video addresses.

To further incentivize the community correspondents to use their videos to spur action, Video Volunteers is committing greater financial support. Says Video Volunteers director Stalin K., “Video Volunteers unveiled a new system to incentivize impact – we will begin to pay the producers three times the normal rate of $55 a video for videos that document a concrete impact. Our goal is to empower the local change makers.”

“If the last training camp was the bricks, this one is the cement,” says Nadeem Andrabi from Jammu & Kashmir as he summed up the experience of the camp. Previous training camps in India addressed the idea of what it means to be the voice of one’s community, and how to link videos to one’s own personal experience and passions. This year’s camp took this a step further, teaching the correspondents how to leverage their videos into agents for tangible community change.

Mukesh Rajak, a 19-year-old, is the youngest community correspondent in the Video Volunteers Indian network. “At the camps you realize you are part of something bigger and that there are all these people with you. Every camp has been an eye opening experience – I return back charged and changed.”

About Video Volunteers
Video Volunteers identifies, trains, and empowers grassroots media producers who create change in and for voiceless communities in the developing world. The organization’s work has been recognized by the Knight News Challenge, Echoing Green, TED, Waldzell, the King of Belgium, UNDP, UNESCO, YouTube, and others who have helped Video Volunteers elevate the voices of these rural communities.

If you wish to speak with Jessica Mayberry or Chair of the Board Davia Temin, please contact Trang Mar at Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or

For further information on Video Volunteers please visit or follow us @twitter/video volunteers or fan us on Facebook/Video Volunteers. Watch the videos made by the community correspondents on