Community Correspondents

Bideshini Patel

Bideshini Patel

Ever since I graduated from school, I have been working. I'm currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work program in the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).

One of my fondest memories as a child as when my picture was published in this magazine called Anteswara. I didn't know anything about what a camera was or what publishing was then. They called me and took a photograph. Then when it was published, I saw a copy of the magazine with my photo in it. I felt very happy. I felt sure I could do something in life, escape from the trouble at home.

I have worked in many NGOs since then – in Balangiri, Sundergarh Gramin Unnayan Pratisthan (SGUP), in many programs. I have worked on an Action Aid project on HIV-AIDS as a women organiser, I have worked as an area co-ordinator, and also as a program manager in a project sponsered by Andheri-Hilfe. Mostly, I have worked on women's health, education etc.

I always plan a month in advance. My daily routine involves meeting many women, looking over self-help-groups. My main problem is my lack of English, lack of computer knowledge. After 16 years of working in the social sector, that's why I am still stuck at the program manager level!

Besides working in the social sector, I am also a trained artist. I write and direct plays, I dance, and I also sing on the radio.

Now, I run a small women's organisation in Bonai, Lahunipada. It is a small sangathan – I don't plan to register it as an NGO or anything like that. We have made our sagathan to save the Khandadhar Falls. The land is under threat from the POSCO project. The best thing about the people there is their unity. If anything happens, they gather instantly. The slogan of our movement is Khandadhar bachao, Posco hatao! Today, the Orissa Mining Corporation is creating havoc in the area – displacing people, polluting the air and water. My dream is that the land should become green and fertile again, like it once was.

I heard of VV from Sandeep Patnaik, who is a reporter and writer (NCAS, Pune). There are many media organisations in my region – Indian Express, OTV, ETV, Dainik Jagran etc. They don't always report the truth. They only take “big issues”, they don't look at the small things that affect people's lives.

Looking at the India Unheard videos in the training, I am reminded of my own village, and I feel strong – that I can become a Community Correspondent. I love scaring the corrupt and threatening them. This camera is a new tool that I have now.

Videos from Bideshini

Ostracism in the Name of Respect

/ June 7, 2017

A woman is expelled from her marital home and shunned by her neighbours for addressing in-laws by their name.

The fight to save Nature from Mining, by the indigenous of Odisha

/ November 21, 2016

The indigenous of Odisha have been on the forefront to defend the abundant nature against the ravages of mining in the state since a decade. From the tribals at the foothills of Niyamgiri hills to the village residents in the plains of Bolangir near the lower Suktel dam, have been...