Wonder Kids!

Working for the development sector has always given me a sense of satisfaction. Growing up in one of the disadvantaged states of the country namely Jharkhand, I was privileged enough to find the right resources in life but that is not the case with many. My interest in participatory videos, in particular – visual communication gives me a skill through which I can document the struggles and accomplishments of the underpriviledged people in a better way. Videos give me an opportunity to highlight the problem and bring out the emotional connect with a larger audience. And so I feel the power of camera is unmatched!

While working for a grassroots NGO in Hyderabad, I observed the transformation a camera can bring in a person. The person feels empowered because of this important tool and his/her expertise in capturing and documenting the struggles of the community and the community also sees him/her in a different light altogether. I remember one of the adolescent girls I was working with once said, “Jab camera leke nikalte hain toh sab izzat dete hain.” (When we go out to meet people with the camera, we are treated with respect). It was amazing to see how a small machine can transform the relationship dynamics and that was the time when I decided to work with this powerful communication tool and highlight the different challenges in the development sector. Studying about the participatory video model during my Masters was just the tip of the iceberg – the real game changer was when I started working on it. AIF gave me an option to integrate my interest in working for the development sector with my love for camera. My placement with Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF) was a good choice and as soon as I arrived in the city, I started working on 5 video success stories. Although, the model of participatory video allows people from communities to video-document their issues, in lieu of lack of resources, we had to modify the approach. Working at SBF brought me even closer to the work I love and a new set of people.  I take this opportunity to pen down my experience in making these 2 of these videos. Those were the kids who inspired me the most in their own way.

Sharifa Sheikh

My mentor here at Salaam Bombay Foundation, Aditi Parikh, spoke to Sharifa over the phone to gather preliminary information about her in order to write the script. The way Aditi, explained her phone conversation intrigued me because Sharifa had a maturity that belied her tender age of merely 14 years . The first time I met her, I thought maybe I expected too much from her. But after the initial few minutes, I understood why Aditi was so impressed by her. Sharifa is the only girl in a male dominated mobile repairing class. Not only that, the fact that inspired me most was that her family supports her fully and her father wants her to become financially independent. Breaking stereotypes with a smile on her face, Sharifa is an inspiration for her peers. “Why should I be behind anyone? Why should I be treated less than a boy? Why can’t the society see girls and boys as human beings?”, she asks with a vigor and that’s what was so different about her. While her friends enrolled themselves into courses supposedly ‘meant for girls’, Sharifa stands different not because she wants to but because she thinks as well acts boldly, determined to make a difference. Her unmatched confidence sets her apart from her classmates and friends. Personally, Sharifa inspired me beyond measures.The video to her story is below:

Amar Bhayade

Amar is a cricketing prodigy in not only the Salaam Bombay Foundation Cricket Academy but also in  his community. An immensely talented kid, Amar is from a family where almost every male member is a sportsman. At a young age, Amar took interest in cricket. With the help of Salaam Bombay Foundation’s cricket academy; he could develop his passion  into his dream career. An extremely enthusiastic kid, Amar was selected to play for the under-19 team of India for the English cricketing legend Kevin Peterson’s KP24 Foundation. The tournament held in Dubai was a golden opportunity for Amar. The most inspiring thing about Amar, for me, wasn’t only his achievement at such a young age but the positivity and responsibility that he shows. The Bhayade family has a small one room house in a slum of Mumbai. Amar not only practices regularly but he umpires part-time and this helps him take care of his education expenses. Amar dreams of making it to the national Indian Cricket Team someday. After knowing Amar, I am sure his dreams are tough enough to challenge his present circumstances and help him realize a better tomorrow.

The following video captures a slice of his life in 30 seconds.

Sharifa and Amar are so different yet they are similar in the approach they have towards life. They and many like them out there make me believe that our future is in great hands. They are truly the ‘Wonder Kids’!

Few of the behind the scenes pictures with Sharifa and Amar!

She is so cute! Sharifa (M) with me and my teammate Ishan Choudhary

 

Sharifa and her friends with us!
Sharifa and her friends with us!

 

Posing with the talent! From L-R Ishan, Aniket, Sharifa, Me :)
Posing with the talent!
From L-R Ishan, Aniket, Sharifa, Me 🙂

 

Some serious work!
Concentrate guys, smile later 😛
Amar during his practice sessions in Andheri, Mumbai.
Amar during his practice sessions in Andheri, Mumbai.

 

Amar behind the stumps!
Amar behind the stumps!

 

Warming up before the net practice.
Warming up before the net practice. We were not allowed to take pictures with him on the ground.

P.S- I met Sharifa few days back in the office and she was elated on seeing her life captured in a video.  Sharifa is now in the 9th grade and is preparing for her final exams.

After the videos were published, Amar went to Dubai again for a special training. He is currently pursuing is first year of Junior college.

Sumedha feels that her experience as an AIF fellow will help her to understand first-hand how strategizing and creating development projects can bring about more clarity in her interest areas. Although she grew up in India, she feels that the diversity of the country is such that it never ceases to surprise people. She enjoys interacting with new people, travelling and photography. Her conscious choice of getting into the development sector of India has supported her to work for the causes she cares about the most. At Salaam Bombay Foundation, she feels dealing with kids will be both, interesting as well as challenging. Sumedha is looking at making significant contribution to the larger society in which she grew up. Prior to AIF, she has trained adolescent girls from an underprivileged community on video making and has experience in inter-personal as well as organizational communications.

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2 thoughts on “Wonder Kids!

  1. Sumedha, Thanks for writing such a compelling post to our blog. Video is indeed a powerful tool, one that people my age (almost 50!) sometimes struggle to grasp the potential of. You are leading the way. The success in Sharifa breaking gender stereotypes is important, but her achievement risks being atomized and lost unless it is amplified through videos like yours. Keep at it. I will look forward to your continued progress and blogging. –Alex Counts, President, AIF

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