Kamal Kishor Purty belongs to an Adivasi community and has been working as a social activist for the last 15 years. The region he belongs to is remote; during the rains, his village is flooded, making it nearly entirely inaccessible. Since becoming a Community Correspondent, Kamal has become a rare representative of the press in his region. “I am proud of my Ho culture and want to get more content in my language out there. I cannot speak properly in Hindi but I feel that that should not be a cause for feeling ashamed! We adivasis should be proud of our languages.”
Since joining Video Volunteers in 2012, Kamal has made videos on several issues his community faces, ranging from problems like corruption in the MNREGA and PDS in his region to a lack of anganwadis for childcare. An issue that is close to his heart is delay in pension. In 2013, because of the impact his reportage brought, 27 senior citizens in his Jharkhand village finally began to receive their monthly pension that had been sanctioned in 2008. Not only did they start receiving the pension, they also received the arrears for all the months for which their pension had not been paid. “I still feel that the impact of that issue video has stayed with me and continues to inspire me to work, ” says Kamal. “There are many other elderly people and widows in my village who are still battling the same problem”.
In his personal capacity, he helps his fellow village residents get treated at the government hospital nearby whenever required. “Some years ago, a man from my village died of malaria because he could not complete his course of treatment,” he says. “I was deeply impacted by his untimely death. Since then, whenever someone falls ill, I take them to the hospital on my motorcycle and help them with the formalities there. Even the hospital staff recognises me now.”
As a social activist, Kishor thinks that the lack of awareness amongst community members is a major problem. “They all think that their problems can never go away, because they often don’t know how to solve them,” says Kishor. “As activists, we bridge that gap and help with the processes to be followed to ensure concrete change.”
He feels that his work with Video Volunteers has aided these processes of change. “My camera is like a weapon,” he says. “Earlier, I only used to submit written applications but now I show recorded evidence. Moreover, because of my work with Video Volunteers, I have learnt what the internet is and how it can be used. Now I actively use social media to connect with more people and raise awareness about my community’s problems.”