Community Correspondents

Reena Ramteke

Reena Ramteke belongs to a remote village of 60 families in the district of Ghariaband in the state of Chhattisgarh in eastern India. The region that she lives in is heavily forested. Basic amenities like water, electricity and roads are lacking or altogether absent. Life is difficult, poverty is rife. The state is hell-bent on exploiting the forests and the mineral-rich land. There is state violence and caste violence. “People in my district face a lot of problems. The denial of forest rights is a major issue. Though the Kamar people are the indigenous inhabitants of the land, they are not getting their basic rights.”

Since she joined Video Volunteers in 2012, Reena has reported on a number of issues ranging from lack of maternal healthcare in rural Chhattisgarh to ration card related corruption in Ghariaband.

In 2011, Reena started her own organisation- the Navnirman Chetna Jan Manch. Through it, she raises awareness, especially amongst women, about existing laws and welfare schemes. “All issues that affect members of my community are important for me,” says Reena. “It is important to raise issues affecting women because women are oppressed and often don’t have strong support systems. They need support. Through my videos, I try and provide that support.”

Reena feels that working with Video Volunteers has brought about considerable change in her personal life as well. “I have learnt a lot because my work takes me to different places and broadens my horizons,” says Reena. “Earlier, in our family we had a mindset that girls should not go outside the home. But today, I go out for training sessions for 10-15 days and my family doesn’t say anything. They might ask which place I am going to but they’ll never question why I’m going out.”

Going forward, Reena wishes for people in her district and state to be familiar with her work as a community correspondent. “I also want to learn more about the country’s laws and the work that lawyers do so that I can be more adept at dealing with people’s grievances,” adds Reena.

Reena is also a part of Video Volunteers' campaign #KhelBadal to dismantle patriarchy. The campaign is taking on patriarchy through stories of women and men who face, negotiate and challenge patriarchy in everyday life — at home, at work, at school, in cultural and public spaces. Under the campaign, she makes films that capture the nuances of routine, normalised gender discrimination, stories of change and runs Gender Discussion Clubs where lively, introspective conversations around gender equality and patriarchy happen.

Videos from Reena

Jharkhand Contractor Commits Sexual Violence Against Pregnant Woman | COVID-19

/ December 14, 2020

Women have been subjected to unimaginable suffering during the COVID-19 lockdown.

No Cards

Rape by Any Other Name Would Still be Rape

/ August 22, 2018

52 countries have criminalised marital rape. But in India, lawmakers supposedly fear destabilising the institution of marriage. It’s not fear, it’s misogyny.

Impact Story

Six Years On, MGNREGA Payments Finally Released

/ May 14, 2018

Community Correspondent's video and persistence helps 18 workers finally get their due wages under the MGNREGA scheme - India's "stellar example of rural development”.

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Labour Day: The Invisible and Dispensable Lives behind Swachh Bharat

/ May 1, 2018

Sanitation workers often resort to consuming alcohol to become numb to the stench of drains. All they get in return? Delayed wages and stigma. Reena Ramteke reports on the scenes behind Swachh Bharat hoardings and songs.

No Cards

Shaheed Hospital: The Story of a Revolution

/ December 13, 2017

Born of a workers’ struggle, Shaheed Hospital has been providing affordable and respectful care to Chhattisgarh’s rural population for 34 years now.

No Cards

Women Should be Younger than Their Husbands and Other Lessons of Patriarchy

/ October 20, 2017

Men and women alike internalise gender discrimination. Is there a way to unlearn patriarchy? Saket is in middle school. But he’s very sure of the reason behind the difference in legal marriageable age of women (18) and men (21). “It is so that women can’t dominate us,” he says with...

Staking a Claim on Forest Rights

/ August 8, 2014

The Forest Rights Act (FRA) along with the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Actis a cornerstone of Indian grassroots democracy. They give forest dwelling communities and individuals a final say with regards to land use. When it came into power in 2006, forest dwelling communities who had fought hard to...