Thursday, December 22, 2011

Panos, London and I: a journey begins!

What is the most effective, yet the simplest way to bridge the gap between hyperlocal stories and the global audience? How can you make heard the voices off the ground in an authentic, unaltered manner? There are quite a few ideas floating around, but the 'Voice from the Ground' project of Panos, London which brings the stories straight off the ground, stands out among all.

Chhattisgarh: There are stories of inspiration waiting to be told in this land of despair and I am going to bring some of those stories on
This is how it works:
Panos selects a journalist who has been reporting development issues for a while. The journalist follows an activist/community worker for about a month and presents stories, as told to her/him by the activist/worker. The story appears as first person account and this way, the reader gets to hear and connect with the voice of the ground directly.

There is a reason why am I telling you this: I have just become a part of this project and I have introduced a powerful voice of a woman activist who works in the troubled land of India's Chhattisgarh state. Her name is Bhan Sahu. Here is my introductory article on her on the Panos website. It reads

"She has no educational degree, no regular monetary support and is very vulnerable herself, facing the danger of detainment and arrest every now and then. To write about her is to connect her with the larger, global community and open possibilities for her to get support from the world which has otherwise little access to these conflict-ridden areas."
This weekend (27th), I am going to Chhattisgarh where I will follow Bhan and a group of activists - mostly landless tribal women - and bring stories of their work, struggle and success exactly as they see it and they tell me. It is an opportunity for me to become the direct link between the hyperlocal and the global audience (which I mentioned above). As for Panos, it becomes the platform where the voices from the ground are amplified.

So, what are the stories that Bhan can tell? Imagine this: in a semi-arid region, in the shadow of famine, displacement, poverty and armed conflict (Govt vs Maoists), a woman with little education and next to nil resources is bringing social changes.Whatever her stories are, expect inspiring elements in them.

I travel this Sunday. My next blog will be uploaded from some dark,dusty cyber cafe in a dusty town which I have to discover. Until then, Happy holidays!

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