Community Correspondents

Tanju Devi

Tanju Devi

State: BIHAR

Tanju Devi is a member of the Tharu tribe and she lives in a forested area in West Champaran along the Indo-Nepal border. She comes from a community which has had to face a long history of abuse, neglect, and degradation at the hands of other communities.

Having witnessed injustice at such close quarters all her life, she worked hard to inspire fellow community members to live a life of independence.That’s why she decided to get involved when she heard about the Community Correspondents Network: “With my camera, I can create greater changes for my community.”

Over the last decade, Tanju has actively supported a multitude of issues and rallies in her village. She has produced videos on a wide range of problems on themes ranging from forced labor, corruption, governance and accountability, gender to health. Most of these videos have made a positive impact, alleviating misery for those affected. However, an issue that is very close to her heart centers around the Anti-Poverty Programs that the government. She has made a lot of videos on non-implementation of poverty-alleviation schemes, especially those around disability and elderly pension schemes. “I have a differently-abled husband and an aging mother-in-law. I know how important even a few hundred rupees is in an impoverished person’s life. It means food, medicine, and security to many,” explains Tanju. Her deep understanding of these issues is transformed into effective storytelling when she makes videos for the rights of persons with disabilities and senior citizens.  

A major impact driven by Tanju was when she made a video on year-long pension arrears of persons with disabilities, widows and senior citizens in Gaunaha of West Champaran district in Bihar. She documented their testimonies and met the Gaunaha Block Development Officer (BDO). Due to her persistence, as many as 3,000 beneficiaries were called in a community gathering in Gaunaha and were given their due arrears. This earned her the reputation of a powerful citizen journalist. “Since nothing else seemed to have worked in the past, I thought, “Why not try using the camera to create change?” After all, I am trained in it.”

Tanju, with her determined spirit, stays an inspiration for those from her community. Her life is a living example of the change that can happen when individuals raise their voice against the system.

Videos from Tanju

Forest officials falsely arresting firewood collectors

 
/ May 11, 2016

“We do not know laws. We are not educated, but we have lived near this jungle and in this village for years,” says Chandrabhushan Mahato who was arrested by forest rangers for collecting firewood. In Dumri village of West Champaran, Bihar, most of the residents belong to the Scheduled castes...

No disability certificate for needy in Bihar

 
/ April 6, 2016

In a small village in Bihar, a disabled old man Raj Bansi Majhi, earns his living from the alms he begs because he can’t find work with one hand. The disability certificate he is entitled to, is nowhere in sight and his children have abandoned him. The disability certificate allows...

Forest Dept usurps land from farmers in Gaunaha, Bihar

 
/ February 11, 2016

Vanahava Parsa is a tiny village in Gaunaha, Bihar. The people of Vanahava are traditionally a forest dwelling community, and several generations have been residing on this land for several decades. Many are farmers, and maintain a harmonious existence with the forest as they are dependent on forest produce for...

Absence of a bridge stirring turmoil in Harpur, Bihar

 
/ January 28, 2016

The absence of a bridge over Harbora river is causing a lot of trouble for the residents of Harpur Panchayat in West Champaran, Bihar. The community is more concerned about their children having to cross the river every day, just to attend school. When the river is flooded, everyone is...

Swadeshi Sugar Mills not paying dues to Sugarcane farmers

 
/ December 29, 2015

Swadeshi sugar mills is one of the largest sugar mills in West Champaran’s Narkitiaganj city. Farmers, big or small, from all over Maniyatar block to Gauraha block, face a lot of difficulties when it comes to payment by the Swadeshi mill for their sugarcane crop. This year the wait for...

Natural water source is on the brink of extinction in Domat, Bihar

 
/ December 14, 2015

Agriculture communities across many villages depend on natural resources to support their farming. The sustenance of these resources is never the priority of the administration. Natural resources may soon be on the brink of extinction.Lachnauta Jumi is a water source situated near Domat village. This water is used for drinking,...

Railway Line upgradation: Commuters left abandoned

 
/ November 3, 2015

The residents of 18 panchayats fall under Maiguli and Bikhna villages of West Champaran in Bihar. There is a stretch of railway line that passes through these Panchayats from Bhikna Thori to Narkatiaganj. Bhikna Thori station is the last station on the Indian side before the Indo-Nepal border. The stretch...

One Ambulance for 18 villages

 
/ September 21, 2015

There is only one ambulance for 18 villages in Gaunaha block of West Champaran district. Pregnant women say that ambulance never arrives on time. They either have to hire a private vehicle or use a bullock cart to get the nearest health facility.