Since 2003, Video Volunteers has been creating programs and projects that empower poor and marginalized communities with a voice to address poverty, inequality and injustice. Its mission is to empower the world’s poorest citizens to right the wrongs they witness by becoming players in the global media revolution. Below is an overview of Video Volunteers’ main programs and projects; more details can also be found on their specific web pages.
Community Video Units (CVUs) create platforms for communities to dialog and find solutions, and empower people to take action on local issues. CVUs are local production entities, created by Video Volunteers in partnership with different NGOs, that are run by up to 10 community members trained in all aspects of video production and distribution.
These community video producers make films on issues decided by community editorial boards, that they then screen back on widescreen projectors to thousands of people in the community. Thousands of people have taken action on their issues after seeing these films, and you can read about the impacts here. There are currently ten Community Video Units, who have organized more than 3000 screenings in over 300 villages which have been seen by more than 250,000 people.
IndiaUnheard is a network of more than 31 Community Correspondents from 24 states and union territories across India. These Community Correspondents represent India’s most marginalized communities, such as Dalits, tribal people, religious, lingual and sexual minorities.
The video reports filed by the Community Correspondents are on issues of utmost importance to these communities that are not reported by the mainstream media. The powerful combination of new media approaches—video journalism, SMS reporting and social media networking—allows them to engage with both a national and international audience in a truly innovative way.
Based in Brazil, out of Sao Paulo, VCU.br is a Video Volunteers’ project whose main focus is on the livelihoods and building of entrepreneurial skills for Brazilian youth from slums by training them on how to make a living through videos. So, they are taught not just about how to shoot or write a script, but also about how to sell the videos that they make. This is why the trainees are also learning how to pitch story ideas to TV industry and other clients. These young people are learning how to develop their entrepreneurial skills by using their difficult background as an asset. Click here to watch films produced by Brazil VCU producers.
Video Volunteers’ programs have created great impact and have helped local communities find solutions to their specific problems, and we continue to find ways to empower more communities to raise their voices and lead, connect and change, to not only better their lives but also to make this world a better place for all. As a member, and past secretariat, of the Community Radio Forum (CRF), Video Volunteers believes in the power of community radio and is committed to democratization of India’s airwaves. Video Volunteers is currently designing the strategy for Shramik Bharti, an NGO in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, which is setting up community radio programs and training 20 people, and the Managing Trustee of Video Volunteers, Stalin K., designed and trained two of the earliest community radio stations in the country—KMVS and Dang.
The Videoshala (literally ‘videoschool’) project is a unique and innovative intervention that trains local community members to produce educational videos and screen them to students across their marginalized communities. Launched in in Gujarat during 2007 with our partner NGOs—Drishti Media Arts and Human Rights and Udaan (Education Resource Centre)—the initiative is funded by the QUEST Alliance and the International Youth Foundation (IYF). Through the establishment of these Education Community Video Units (E-CVUs), Videoshala works towards a sustainable model of using community-produced videos as classroom tools to enrich education and empower the community by inculcating values of diversity and inclusion within classrooms.
Each E-CVU has a team of six Producers, two-to-five Classroom Facilitators, one Trainer, and one Coordinator. The producers are trained in video film making, editing, scriptwriting, shooting, storytelling, creating creative content, instructional design, educational pedagogy, learning from songs, dramas and illustrations, classroom facilitation, and values of diversity and democracy. The classroom facilitators are trained on classroom facilitation and teaching techniques, on how children learn, administering worksheets, carrying out student activities and involving teachers in the video screening process.
Under this program, Video Volunteers partnered with The Global Fund for Children(GFC), The Nike Foundation, and local NGOs Kolkata Sanved and Mahita, to train adolescent girls the process of video production, teaching them to capture their stories and share their stories with a wider audience. The Videoactive Girls initiative focused on education in the art of digital storytelling, video production, and video-sharing skills, with the goal of helping the participating girls cultivate greater self-confidence and self-empowerment through the learning process.
An extensive toolkit was also designed to enable other NGOs to create and achieve their own video training projects that nurture, inspire, and motivate adolescent girls to play a part in building their communities into places in which they would like to live. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to begin such a project, including implementation, follow-through, and how to use it to create positive change in girls’ lives and communities. The kit is also intended to help media literacy organizations, policy makers, funding agencies, social-media scholars, and other media practitioners understand the ideas, concepts, implementation, logistics, and assessment of media projects for girls.
Video Volunteers is working to devise business models that will help community media reach high levels of sustainability, including earning revenue through partnering with the mainstream media and via collaborations with other NGOs. Presently, Video Volunteers has joined forces with the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), based in Ahmedabad, to develop a business model which can be followed by various community video units (CVUs) to attain financial sustainability.