Community Correspondents

Soriya Banu

Soriya Banu, a Community Correspondent with Video Volunteers, is the only earning member of her family of four and is employed at a local NGO where she conducts First Aid Training and works on health care literacy and access. Soriya uses her tools as a Community Correspondent to bring impact to issues ranging from road conditions and water contamination, from gender violence to trafficking. Despite coming from an impoverished family, Soriya pursued her higher education and made social work her profession. While Soriya’s parents made an unprecedented choice in their support of their girl child’s education, they were not very supportive of her becoming a Community Correspondent with Video Volunteers when she first took on the job. Over time however, they, along with the community, came to rely on her to tackle issues in their community. One such issue was the student-teacher ratio at a local primary school, which had only one full time teacher for 193 students. Soriya is proud of the difference that she was able to make in her community through this early work at VV. Another issue which Soriya has covered as a Community Correspondent is that of arsenic-contaminated water in Sariapukur village in the Malda district of West Bengal. In her video, she asks one resident, “What is the biggest problem in your village?” As revealed in Soriya’s video, over 100 people in the village are suffering from sores, which in fact are a reaction to arsenic found to be in the water. With the goal of resolving the issue, Soria has been sent “running in circles” from one officer to the next, as no one wants to take responsibility. One woman featured in her video has since died, and thus, Soriya remains as determined as ever to bring an impact to this community. In West Bengal, 19,000 women and children went missing in 2011. In Soria’s district, it is estimated that one child goes missing per month due to human trafficking. Soriya has documented some of their stories. Stricken with grief and the conviction that the police is not only uncaring but also working with their children’s kidnappers; the mothers of these children tell Soria their stories. Since then, Soriya has followed up with NGOs, the District Magistrate and the Inspector General of the North Bengal Zone. Rescuing these girls is a long procedure. Soria had to approach the police and pressurise them into beginning investigations, years after the complaints had been taken. One of the young girls was found to be in Delhi and subsequently rescued. Till date, this young girl is terrified of being caught and taken back again. She does not venture anywhere without her mother. There are still other girls missing who have not been found. Asked how VV has changed her, Soriya responds, " I am a better, stronger person today. I am not afraid to speak - be it in a community or to an authority. I know the laws and I am assertive about them.” She feels that it is her job to stand up for the people – the poor, the marginalised, who not so long ago used to chase her away with a broom or threaten to lock her up when they saw her wielding her camera. Her sister too wants to “be like Soriya,” and has started to learn the basics of the camera. And when her mother is confronted by neighbours about Soriya’s choices, she responds by saying “Why can’t girls go out for work?” We know that Soriya will continue to influence the aspirations of young women and shape the lived realities of her people.

Videos from Soriya

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Without Clean Drinking Water, Village Residents Succumb to Diarrhoea

/ August 9, 2017

Village goes without water supply for half a month, residents forced to draw water from nearby BSF camp or consume unsafe pond water. “India got its freedom in 1947, but we have no water even now”, says a visibly angry Ajit Soren, a resident of a West Bengal village. His...

Ordeal of a Blind Mother – Deserted by Husband, Denied pension

/ January 27, 2017

Shakinaur Khatun was a happy woman till five years back, living in Malda, West Bengal. She lived with her husband and two young children in her household. But things changed when she slowly lost her eyesight due to an unknown illness. Her husband and in-laws abandoned Shakinaur and the two...

Rural poor forced to pay bribe to get houses under Indra Awas Yojna

/ October 10, 2016

A woman is living in distress having paid in advance for a house that she never got, reports Community Correspondent  Suriya Banu who highlights the living conditions of similar families. Twelve families have applied twice for houses under Indra Gandhi Awas Yojna but are still waiting for the security of...

Abysmal road condition leaves a 12-year old boy bed-ridden

/ October 4, 2016

Nur Islam, a 12-year old boy from West Bengal is constantly in pain, unable to attend school or play with this friends. But Nur wasn’t always like this. He was a healthy and playful child who loved studying. But a year ago, while crossing the ‘road’ of his village Chaspara...

Beluha river of Malda polluted by nearby paper mills

/ July 28, 2016

The 8,000 people of Malda district in West Bengal, have their daily life and local economy disrupted by Behula river’s toxic waters. The lifeline of villages like Jalangi and Molpur, Behula has been dying a slow, poisonous death due to the paper mills at its banks. “The waters are so polluted,...

Corruption under Indra Awas Yojana make life miserable for a daily wage worker

/ July 14, 2016

Sheik Hussain was asked to pay a bribe of Rs. 20,000 to be sanctioned money to build a house under Indra Gandhi Awas Yojana. The Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana (IAY) is one of the many programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development in India. IAY deals with the housing issue...

Video Volunteers’ Impact : School gets teacher and headmaster

/ May 23, 2016

The provision of teachers is essential for all children, including those from rural India, to ensure that all have access to quality education. To ensure the same, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 has set a pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of 30:1. However, teaching in...

Only 2 teachers teach 226 students in this school

/ March 25, 2016

At Uttardariyapur Primary School in Malda, West Bengal, two teachers, one of them the head master, look after and teach 226 children, varying in age from 6 to 12 years. The school is from Standard I to Standard V. They have to teach bengali, english, maths, environmental sciences….. According to...