The Right to Education Act guarantees children in government run or aided schools the access to potable water. However, according to the activist network of Nuapada district of Odisha, the children of the village school of Dotto hadn’t had any access to water in the school for almost a year. Fresh out of Video Volunteers’ IndiaUnheard training, Abhishek seemed like their best bet to solve this problem. Now having gotten the hand pump fixed, Abhishek shares his experience with us.
“Dotto is a very remote village with few roads. I had to drive almost 80 Kilometers to get there. Despite suggestions during training to film as close to home as possible, I decided to check out this situation & see if I could help in anyway. The villagers speak Chhattisgarhi & no Odiya. Seeing the children lugging big bottles filled with drinking water for half a km convinced me I needed to do this story. Yes, it was inconvenient for me, but so was carrying water. And they’re only children.
I’d already made a few videos by then so AyushBhai(Ex Program Co-ordinator, VV) & I had worked out a process. I went & chatted with the kids, the guardians and the head master. I found out that they had appealed a few times already. We chalked out some good visuals to support the story, took the interviews & then got the Village Education Committee together with some of the guardians.
I had borrowed a friend’s laptop, to show them the interviews. The screening made all the difference. While they knew that their children suffered daily, to see them say it on camera really affected everybody. About 7-8 of us went to the School Inspector who suggested we approach the Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Department (RWSS). There, we met the Junior Engineer & showed him the video. He said he knew of this problem, that they had already attempted twice earlier to fix it. However, the video really affected him too, and he immediately ordered work to begin.
It was exhausting, a lot of travelling, a lot of hard work to get this Impact. Over 8 months of back & forth.The child I had interviewed for the issue video had even transferred into another school. I had to track her down, as I knew that her interview would support the continuity (sic) of my story.
One would imagine I would avoid filming in remote areas but I realized that there are far too many issues, and too few of us with the tools to document. I made more videos from Dotto village while I was following up on this story. I found that the headmaster, village education committee, the villagers & even the children really rallied around me, easily giving me interviews. Yes, there was a massive language barrier, I know no Chhattisgarhi. But we still pulled it off!
Today, there is a new tube well installed in the school. This ensures that the children are not limited to consuming a single bottle of water that they brought from home. This change that we have achieved together means that 70 children now have access to a regular, inexhaustible source water. The cooks also have clean water to cook the midday meal. The entire village rallied together to collectively make decisions & appeal for change. The administration is now acutely aware of the strength of this village. With every video I make, I hope I can similarly inspire many more villages across Nuapada.”