You can call me: Warrior. I slay dragons. I carry a sword with me at all times. I negotiate peace with armed generals. I have magical powers and I can make things disappear. I go to war on a battlefield called my keyboard. The dragons I slay are “drag-on” sentences (I punch with punctuation). The sword is my pen (you cross me and I will cross you out). Armed generals are grant proposal requests and with my magical powers, I can make all errors disappear (Ctrl+A+Delete).
This is me, exercising my warrior super powers in Anjuna, Goa.
My mission at Video Volunteers: human resources, training, and fundraising. These three things are important to ensuring that organizations run efficiently. I humbly accepted this mission as I was knighted “handler of human resource tasks”, “trial-runner of training”, “guardian of grant proposals”. It was apparent to me the importance of these tasks, these were in my very biased opinion, the life-forces of the organization. Ok, I will pause here to say, this was not my initial thought. Although I personally like writing manuals and looking at employee contracts, I honestly feared that I would miss out on field work by only doing office work for 10 months. I was pleased with the potential of my work but I wondered if it was lacking in excitement. Then I thought about my purpose as a fellow with the American Indian Foundation. It is to serve, learn, and lead.
- What better way to serve than to lend my skills to support the mission of an amazing organization like Video Volunteers?
- What better way to learn than to jump into the back-end of how this organization is managed and run and learn more about how it is becoming a national media ‘source to be reckoned with’?
- And what better way to lead than to strategize new ways for Video Volunteers to streamline processes and resources?
Human Resources is about the people and processes, fundraising is about profit, and training is about communicating the philosophies for getting things done.
I had just been knighted as an ambassador for change! I am definitely being dramatic but I was excited about digging in and seeing what I could do to make things better within my realm of influence. My project proposal focuses on business operations and I have committed my time in this fellowship to using my skills to enhance the current documentation and processes within HR, fundraising, and training. I personally believe that there is so much merit in making processes more impactful.
Video Volunteers: Warring to Get the Word Out
I arrived at my placement in Goa, India to a full 7 days of nothing but rain! It was the last couple of weeks of monsoon season and the rain would let up soon. Everything was wet and gloomy and, although this was Goa, there was no point in going to the beach. Coworkers entered to office in full body rain suits. I did not bring a rain coat with me to India but I did bring an umbrella which has absolutely useless on a scooter! For this first week at Video Volunteers, my job was to read more about the organization and ask any questions I had.
I relied heavily on my previous experience in organizational management and business because I knew very little about the media industry. I learned very quickly that Video Volunteers occupied a space on the outskirts of the media industry known as “community media”. Community media is any form of media that is created and controlled by a community and allows for nonprofessional media-makers to participate and have access to a platform where they can express their views (Remnie, 2006). This could be represented by either a geographic community or a community of interest of identity. Community media is separate from commercial media, state run media, or public broadcasting and is usually spearheaded by a nonprofit.
Video Volunteers Community correspondent interviews community member. (Photo Credit: Video Volunteers)
According to CommunityVoices.in, There are over 100 community radio stations in India but Video Volunteers is the only recorded video-based community media platform in India (Jose, n.d.). The mission of Video Volunteers is “to empower the world’s poorest citizens to participate in the community media movement so they can right the wrongs they witness and become players in the global media revolution”. Video Volunteers identifies, trains and empowers grassroots media “Community Correspondents” to tell the stories of marginalized communities in the developing world.
Video Volunteers intentionally and strategically aims to get the word out about marginalized communities by recruiting individuals who represent the most diverse communities in India – Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, all living below the poverty and 50% of them women. Over 240+ individuals are trained in video reporting and data and enabled to earn a livelihood as Community Correspondents for Video Volunteers.
My Mission at VV
Although I am a natural creative person, I am also very interested in strategy and organizational development. My undergraduate degree is in creative writing and theater, I spent the past three years working at a nonprofit where I managed the content for internal and external training programs. I also worked on the strategy team looking at how to expand into new markets. I became fascinated with how to make nonprofit processes more efficient. Since nonprofits run on grants and individual donations, I believe that when we can make the processes more efficient, we can ultimately do more good with limited funds to impact the communities with which we work. In graduate school, I studied business and received my M.B.A. in organizational management with this goal in mind.
So here I am, I creative, spoken word poet and secretly aspiring female M.C. (no really, I want to be a rapper)—working in HR. I read and edit organizational key documents. I write employee contracts. I write manuals. I edit and modularize training. I write and submit grant proposals. I draft SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and I have energizing conversations with my supervisor about how to determine organization valuation but utilizing present and future value equations. I am not in the field experiencing the work first hand, although it is a desire that I have before I finish this fellowship. But I am working to do great work within my role here at VV.
I had to remind myself that the heroes and heroines are not always the characters on the front-lines wielding a sword. Sometimes that hero is on the sidelines cheering on the champions or in the back room plotting a master plan or at an office desk writing a proposal or even on the outskirts of the media industry gathering the stories that really matter. Video Volunteers goes to war every day to communicate the stories of individuals who, otherwise, would not have a platform to speak. For the next ten months, you can call me a Warrior, as I use my keyboard to wage war with such an outstanding organization.
Community Correspondent leads a discussion club in Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photo Credit: Video Volunteers)
Jose, J. (n.d.). Community Voices. Retrieved from Community Voices: www.communityvoices.in
Remnie, E. (2006). Community Media: A Global Introduction (Critical Media Studies). In E. Remnie, Community Media: A Global Introduction (Critical Media Studies) (pp. pg. 3-4). Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.