Thursday, June 24, 2010

DNA Bombay newspaper article on May 10

30 members from across the country have come together to video-blog on issues affecting their areas
Women make WAVEs in cyber space
Uttarika Kumaran
Mysore: In the small town of Odana di, incidents of human trafficking are frequent. But of late, a particularly vulnerable group is being targeted — mentally challenged girls.
Chandigarh: The municipal corpora- tion is shutting down dhobhi ghats across the city, replacing them with modern laundry marts to be run by the dhobis. They now sit idly behind their brand-new counters, listening to the silent whir of coin-operated washing machines.
Thane: Every day after school, a 12- year-old girl joins her family of dombaris or ropewalkers, negotiating 20-foot-high wires with ease. Besides con- tributing to the family income, she is also keeping alive a fast vanishing tradition.
These are disparate pieces of news. There is no connection between them whatsoever. But the only thread that connects these untold stories is the women who have chosen to tell them.
Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment (WAVE) is a new video blogging website that has empowered 30 women from across the country to embrace the vast potential of the au- diovisual medium on their own terms. While organisations, such as Video Volunteers, have already laid the groundwork for community media in the country, the founders of WAVE, Sapna Sahani and Angana Jhaveri, hit upon a powerful formula — combine a highly personalised storytelling medium with the interactive potential of the Internet.
Last year, their proposed project was awarded a $1,07,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to train one woman from every state in India to make their own videos. The self-suffi- cient model required participants to be educated, have Internet access and be able to quickly adapt to the video medi- um. “We decided to focus on semi-urban women whom we offered a stipend of Rs3,000 per video,” says Sapna.
The introductory videos on the web- site are a good indication of what’s in store — expressions of personal yearn- ing share an equal platform with press- ing community issues. Prutha Soman, 25, from Thane, who dances blithely under an open sky in her first video, hopes to make people aware of indige- nous art forms of Maharashtra, which are facing extinction.
Moonstar Doud, 26, from Chandi- garh, an enthusiastic advocate of sus- tainable living practices, is keen to ex- periment with the video medium through fictional narratives and the use of animation.
In her video about dhobis, she’s go- ing to adopt a silent film style ala Chap- lin. “These days, we’ve stopped re- sponding to images of suffering in the media. This visual overload needs to be countered by adopting a fresh, lighthearted way of looking at things,” she quips.
Still grappling with certain aspects of production, most bloggers choose to send their material to the WAVE office alongwiththeirAVscripts,wherefree- lance editors put them together. But practical experience has allowed some to fashion their own ways of telling a story visually.
The bloggers are also up-to-date ad- dressing current issues. For example, they will soon be putting up videos of their views about the Women’s Reser- vation Bill, a packaged presentation of which Sapna and Angana hope to send to Delhi. To see the videos or find out more about WAVE, go to

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