Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Need help recruiting from every corner of India!

Hello, here's our first WAVE update!

At the moment, we're neck deep in emails and happy to be working around the clock to try our best to receive applications from every state in the country, which is a huge challenge! I think that's because we're a new program and initially hoped to reach people through email which is a faster and cheaper communication method than calling long distance around India. But we soon discovered that non governmental organizations (NGOs) in many parts of India don't have working emails, or don't check email regularly, or are simply busy or out of town. So now both Angana and I call 15-20 organizations every day and send about 200 emails between us.

However, on the bright side, we've received 40 applications from 17 (out of 28) states in the country! We're still waiting on applications from most of the north eastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura), which are fairly remote; northern states like Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh; and one southern state - Tamil Nadu. So please email us if you have friends who can help in these states.

We've also received emails from abroad! One was from a community media organization in Nepal (Forum for Information Technology), asking if they could send someone to our training in Goa, and the other was from a women's group in Kenya called Jumuiya, asking if we could do a similar program with rural women in the north rift valley there! FYI, we replied to Nepal saying they could attend the training if they paid for travel as we haven't budgeted for that, and to Kenya saying we would keep in touch and try to work something out in the future.

There's a lot more to share, but I'll save it for the next blog entry. Thanks for reading :)


Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Hindu article on September 29

Network of women video bloggers to be created Prakash Kamat

Last date for sending applications for training programme is October 21

Women Aloud: Video blogging for Empowerment is a Goa-based project

Panaji: Two women documentary filmmakers, who won an international award for their women’s empowerment project, plan to base their project in Goa.

Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri are the first Indian winners of the U.S. based MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC’s (University of California/Duke University Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology collaborative initiative) Digital Media and Learning competition.

Their proposed project “Women Aloud: Video blogging for Empowerment” (WAVE) was one of the 19 projects selected from a pool of 700 from the U.S. and four other countries. This is the first time that proposals were invited from India for grants towards innovation in participatory learning using new digital media technologies.

Ms. Shahani (31), a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, who moved back to India to start a community media-based project, is presently in Goa doing the ground work for the project.

“After having worked as a manager of a community media centre in Berkeley, California, for six years, I came back to India to pursue the burgeoning field in India. I am thrilled that the award gives us a platform to demonstrate the vast potential of using media as a tool for development in India,” said Ms. Shahani, who wrote the winning proposal with Angana Jhaveri.

The project aims to create a network of women video bloggers who can tell stories about their communities..

“I am really looking forward to interacting one-on-one with women, hearing their stories, and helping them create videos that we will upload on the internet. Nothing is more exciting for me than sharing the joy of creating videos,” said Angana.

For the WAVE project, applications are sought from Indian women between ages of 18 and 25 who are interested in learning to use media tools to help their communities. For details, contact: Sapna Shahani on: 9819829310 or Angana Jhaveri on Ph: 9820302412. Or, write to: womenaloud@gmail.com.

Techgoss.com Article

Indian filmmakers win $107,000
By Suneetha

Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri are literally ‘women with a dream’ as their names indicate. They have won the prestigious MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition of 2009 worth $107,000 to pursue their dream of offering an online presence for low-income women from across India on their unique digital platform WAVE.

The DML competition is an annual effort designed to find and to inspire the most novel uses of new media in support of learning. The Competition awarded $2 million to individuals, for-profit companies, universities, and community organizations for projects that employ games, mobile phone applications, virtual worlds, social networks, wikis, and video blogs to explore how digital technologies are changing the way that people learn and participate in daily life.

So when Sapna’s ambition of introducing technology to someone who hasn't held a camera and lacks opportunities for growth and empowerment, met with Angana’s passion for sharing the joy of creation; it went on to fly the Indian flag high at the Mac Arthur competition. They have turned out to be techies of a different kind, using the new media for the benefit of an underprivileged group of people.

Their joint venture, WAVE, or 'Women Aloud: Videoblogging for Empowerment' is now endeavoring in a first-of-its-kind project in providing a voice for women. This involves training 30 college age women from marginalized backgrounds - one from each state in India - to video blog about their perspectives on community issues. So once their site www.womanaloud.com is put up in January 2010, we can look forward to a new video up everyday from a different part of India highlighting a different story on that month's theme. They have been funded the entire amount that they requested - $107,000 - for the first year of this project, by the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC, to buy equipment, pay stipends to women participants and pay staff.

Angana is in Mumbai and Sapna in Goa at present but that didn’t prevent them talking to Techgoss on their life, work and dreams after Mac Arthur. Here is the conversation.

Techgoss (TG): Tell us about your background
Sapna Shahani (SS): I was raised in Bombay, India and moved to the US for media studies. I started out my career working at Berkeley Community Media as manager. After a couple years spent working in Bombay corporate production houses, creating non-fiction TV shows, managing VFX staff and editing, I was happy to return to my chosen field of community media in India, working with a pioneering organization called Video Volunteers. Presently, I am thrilled to be director of a project I conceptualized called 'Women Aloud: Videoblogging for Empowerment' which is supported by HASTAC and the MacArthur Foundation. WAVE India is looking forward to an exciting year ahead as they launch India's first all-women network of videobloggers from every state in the country, expressing views on development, at a critical stage in India's modern history.
Angana Jhaveri (AJ): I moved from classical dance to theater studies with a PhD and then to film.

TG: how did you get into film making?
SS: Having grown up in Bombay in the early 90s, I noticed the impact that the onset of cable TV had on everyone's lives. Simultaneously, I was growing into a young adult who noticed how dispassionate middle class urbanites had become about the poor around them and decided I would try and go against that tide.
AJ: I found that I enjoyed directing in my theater course in the US and so the very first thing I did after completing my PhD was to take a video course. I loved it as it called all my interests, research, writing, design and rhythm.

TG: Are you technically trained to handle videography equipment? Tell us more about that please
SS: Yes, I was lucky to be trained on the job at the public access TV station that I worked at in Berkeley, California. We operated a camera lending library for the public to use, and taught workshops, so I had to use professional DVCAM cameras and frequently answer questions about their use, as well as about video editing software like Final Cut Pro.
AJ: Yes, I have done camera for some of my films on mini DV cameras and have worked as an editor both linear and non linear for 6 years in the US.

TG: Where did you hear about the Mc Arthur foundation, tell us about your interaction with them, so that we can have other people following in your footsteps next year
SS: A well known videoblogger in the US, Jay Dedman, who I knew because he had taught a workshop at Berkeley Community Media, where I worked, informed me about the Digital Media and Learning competition. At the same time, Angana and I wanted to work on a project together and had similar interests in using media to better people's lives. So we collaborated with an NGO that later withdrew from the project, and applied. I have had a great experience with both the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC staff when I was invited to Chicago this April to a winner's reception event hosted by them.
AJ: Sapna brought that to me for my help in writing the grant as we had been looking to do something together which involves community development.

TG: Have you worked abroad, if so in which field? Why did you come back to India?
SS: Yes, as mentioned above, I went to college in the US and then started out working at India-West newspaper for a year and then Berkeley Community Media for 6 years. I thoroughly enjoyed my work there but decided to move back to India because I instinctively felt that as one of the few Indians who has had the opportunity to work in community media in the US and since I believed very strongly in the public having access to voicing their issues through media, I might make a greater impact in India. Besides this, my parents lived in India and had no intention of moving abroad, so I wanted to be closer to them.
AJ: I have worked as a producer/director and editor for an international community for spiritual education in New York. Also, one of my recent editing jobs was with Deep Dish TV an activist community video organization. I have also worked for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker NGO, The Asia Society representing Asian culture in New York, and done films for various NGO in the US. Coming back to India happened due to personal family reasons, but I stayed to pursue subjects close to my heart in Indian Art and Traditions and social welfare.

TG: Now that you have won the awards, what are your plans? Will you be training the girls or do you have trainers in place?
SS: We will have a centralized two-week training workshop in Goa where we will complement other trainers to provide comprehensive training in video production, blogging and community development issues and advocacy, leadership skills, etc.
AJ: Sapna and I will have are hands full with the organising so we will rely on the expertise of well known women documentary filmmakers, but of course we will guide and support the girls as well with our experience through the training and through the program. Now I plan to focus part time as consultant and mentor to the WAVE project and continue to develop film projects part time on cultural traditions of India and Asia. I have two edits on at the moment, on the Mohini Attam Dance form and on the Holi festival of Manipur.

TG: Would these video blogs have detailed text as well for many Indians who cannot afford broadband?
SS: We will encourage the women in the program to write or blog online as much as possible but for the moment; we don't have an offline distribution method unless local press regularly covers the issues raised.
AJ: I think I will let you follow Sapna's answers from here. But do visit my website illuminefilms.com

TG: Which tech company are you tying up with for the Video recorders? Have they given any kind of special deal to such social causes?
SS: Very good question. I wanted to buy Indian video cameras but was not able to find any Indian manufacturers! After comparing prices of cheaper video camera models that have mic inputs (necessary for capturing decent audio), we have pretty much decided to get Canon's FS10 which costs around 20,000 Rs at Chroma.

TG: Do you have any volunteers from the IT, BPO and KPO industries? –
SS: Not at the moment but we are certainly looking for volunteers and hope your readers will email us!

TG: Anything else you would like to say that we have missed?
SS: Just that people should check out our website at www.womenaloud.org in January 2010, watch videos and provide feedback or get involved. Thanks!

Techgoss hopes the new media enthusiasts from among the techies have noticed the call for volunteers and this novel project will get all it due from volunteers with expertise. Sapna’s blog can be accessed at this link

(Photo is of Sapna Shahani standing behind Amy Goodman a renowned champion of community media in the USA. The photo was taken at a benefit speech organized for Berkeley Community Media)

Article in the Marathi paper 'Lokmat' on September 25

Article in DNA Bombay September

Picture this. A small-town woman stands with a video camera outside a health clinic, interviewing an excited mum who is there to get her baby vaccinated. This is the vision that got Mumbai based documentary filmmakers Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri $107,000 in award money, to implement their one-of-a-kind idea for empowerment of women from small-towns. The duo bagged the grant, awarded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Competition, for their project called Women Aloud, that aims to create a network of women videobloggers telling stories of change in their communities. Their idea was selected from a pool of 700 applicants from the US and four other countries, in the first year that proposals were invited from India. “It is about introducing technology to someone who hasn’t held a camera, has low income and lacks opportunities for growth and empowerment”, says Shahani, 31, who moved back to Mumbai after studying in the US to start a community based media project. “Nothing is more exciting for me than sharing the joy of creating,” adds Jhaveri, whose company Illumine Films has been making videos about social issues for years. “I am looking forward to interacting with the women, hearing their stories and helping them create videos.” Over the next year, the award funds will be used to select and train one woman from each state in the country to become community journalists, uploading five-minute videos every month from their villages on development issues. “We will encourage them to upload positive stories as I believe that will have a higher impact than negative stories,” says Shahani. The women will be initially trained for two weeks after which they can head back to their towns and start creating the videoblogs. Each woman will receive a video camera, while tie-ups with local NGOs will ensure that they can use their Internet services to upload their work. Are there any criteria for qualifying? “They should know English, be around 18-25 years, have a fair knowledge of computers and be committed to the course,” says Shahani. While that may restrict the number of eligible candidates, the duo feels it is preferable to trying to translate from 28 languages. So do they plan to upload the videoblogs on Facebook? Not really, says Shahani. “The videos will be viewed online on a first-of-its-kind national women’s video blog at www.womenaloud.org launching in January.” a_anita@dnaindia.net

WAVE application form

WAVE Application Form
Early deadline October 7/ Late deadline October 15
Please type and email as an attachment or in plain text to womenaloud@gmail.com



Address (where you will stay till August 2010):

Mobile and landline phones:


Languages Spoken:
Level of fluency in English (Average, Above average):
Written English: Spoken English:

Educational qualifications (Degree/ diploma/ other, name and location of institution):

Current job status:

Family’s annual income:

How did you hear about the WAVE project?

Please provide the names and contact info of two references (Preferably one NGO staff person and one educational or professional associate):

Previous experience with computers and the internet (please tell us if you own a computer, have access to the internet, and describe how long you have used computers. You may also wish to tell us which programs you use and which websites you visit frequently):

Previous experience with photography or video (if any):

Can you describe three community issues that concern you and tell us why?

Please share any additional information if it pertains to your involvement in this program:

The WAVE flyer

Apply to be part of the first women's videoblog in India!

The Women Aloud: Videoblogging for Empowerment (WAVE) project involves training young women around India (one per state) to become citizen journalists telling video stories about positive change in their communities to an international audience online. The WAVE project is funded by the *MacArthur Foundation in the U.S. and managed by filmmakers Sapna Shahani, Angana Jhaveri and Mumbai-based NGO, Point of View.

We are looking for help to recruit the best possible female candidate in your area who fulfils the following criteria:
18-25 years of age
Basic fluency in English
Proficient with computers and internet use
Strong interest in video production
Strong interest in community development
Potential to become a leader in her area
Candidates from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds encouraged

More Information:
A video camera will be provided at no charge for the duration of participation in the study, after which it would need to be returned.
The candidate would be paid a stipend of about 3000 rupees per month to compensate for time spent participating in the project (estimated to be up to one week per month).
The duration of the candidate’s involvement in this project is nine months between December 2009 and August 2010, post a two-week training period in Goa in November 2009. All expenses will be covered for the candidate to attend the training in Goa.
She will be required to research, script and shoot video clips for a 2-5 minute video per month about her perspective on community development issues, such as health, the environment and the local economy. These video clips would need to be sent to us via the internet and we would then edit and publish the video clips on the WAVE website.

NGOs around India can collaborate with the WAVE project in these ways:
Forward this recruitment email to your organization’s email contact list.
Post the attached flyer in your office and any other public areas.
Direct any questions about the WAVE project to our team (see contact info below).
Allow computer and internet use for the winning candidate during the nine month program.
We feel that the high standards of video training and the nine-month experience while participating in this project will empower the candidate to successfully assist with any communication, documentation or other media needs of your organization in the future. We hope that your organization will also serve as caretakers of the video camera provided to the candidate, which may be used for your organization’s needs when not in use by the candidate. We would also like to extend an invitation to the media training workshop in Goa in November, taught by India’s leading documentary filmmakers, to one staff person from your organization to attend for no charge (We will provide accommodation in Goa if your organization can bear travel expenses to and from Goa).

Contact Information: 09819829310/ womenaloud@gmail.com

*This material is based on work supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation under prime grant no. 08-91858-000-HCD and The Regents of the University of California. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation or The Regents of the University of California.