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All Initiative Inspiring NGO Organization Social Woman-power

This girl reads out a poem for her rapist, and it’s beautiful.

Climb Against Sexual Abuse from Amrit Vatsa on Vimeo.

This is the first 3MS (technically, a little over six minutes 🙂 ) where I didn’t shoot anything. Climb Against Sexual Abuse (CLIMB), a global non profit, organizes climbing expeditions for survivors of sexual abuse, across the globe. They provided me with the footage from one such climb in South Africa (courtesy eNCA.com). At the end of this expedition, one of the survivors recited a beautiful poem that she had written. Listening to it will make you feel powerful.

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Above: a snapshot from the video where a rape survivors reciters her poem.

 

This video story is obviously beyond her poem. It’s more about the need for more and more survivors to come out in open and speak up about what happened to them, without any shame or taboo. Yes, it’s not easy to speak up but it’s a viscous cycle – if the survivors don’t speak up every time they go through this, it will help sustain the existing rape / sexual violence culture and that will keep making it more difficult for the next batch of abuse victims. This is why, the cycle has to be broken. And that’s what CLIMB does.

If the survivors don’t speak up every time they go through this, it will help sustain the existing rape / sexual violence culture.

The idea to organize climbing expeditions is to give back to the abuse survivors, a sense of ownership of their own bodies, which can help them open up. When they are not organizing climbs, the members of this non-profit (spread across the globe – mostly young folks who also have their day jobs) help find survivors and then encourage them to share their stories (via blogposts, videos, workshops, talk sessions etc).

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If you are a sexual abuse survivor, please share your story with CLIMB – info@climbagainstsexualabuse.com . If you were lucky enough to never suffer abuse yourself, do remember that statistically one in every 3 women suffers sexual abuse once in her lifetime (men too; don’t have the statistics with me right now) – so may be if you share this story, some of your friends might get inspired to do the right thing – share their story (in spite of the societal conditions where victim-blaming, gender policing, false notion of manliness and several other factors make it so difficult for them to do so). And you might be so surprised, how many people around you have stories to share!

You could also go to the CLIMB site and donate for the next expedition that they are planning (Mt. Kilimanjaro).

If you run a site and want to embed this video there, give me a buzz (amrit.vatsa@gmail.com and I will share the embed link – without which the video might not appear on your site because of its privacy settings; I will also let you know how to offer credits).

Video footage acknowledgements: CNN and eNCA.

I should also thank Poonam, the co-founder of CLIMB, who patiently answered my questions (which I sent to her over email) and her husband who recorded it so that I could use some of the footage, to create this story. CLIMB needs all the support they can – go for it!

Categories
All Education Initiative NGO Organization Schools Social

So you aren’t a child abuser; great! But did you know, you’re probably helping one?

I hope this 3 min story encourages parents, teachers and all of us grown-ups to realize that there are a lot of things that we need to learn about child sexual abuse, if we truly want to create an environment for our children, where they can openly report and fight abuse. To learn more, you can go through the links that I have compiled here.

I have known Nikita for few years now. When I met her last year, I was glad to note the kind of work that she was doing. In November 2014, I decided to see her workshops on prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, for myself so that I could create a 3MS from it. The actual workshop with parents was for over an hour, and then there was a separate workshop with children; my video story only shows a glimpse of that. Nikita and School of Life continue to conduct such workshops in schools and other spaces. The world needs more such people, and School of Life, other such organizations (and individuals working in this area) need all the encouragement that they can.

Acknowledgements:

  • Nikita Gupta for the story lead;
  • School of Life and its members (including Nikita) who conducted the workshop that I shot for this video;
  • My best friend Anshuman – for assistance during the shoot (and for always being my host every time I visit Delhi);
  • Princy, my wife – for assistance in editing (it took over an year to finally get this edited; and if I hadn’t asked Princy for help, it could have taken longer; the actual editing time was only 3 days though);
  • The Sixth Element School for allowing us to shoot the story in their premises;
  • The parents and the teachers who participated in the workshop (and especially the couple who we interviewed separately);
  • Ankit Vatsa, Nimit Jain, Nikita Gupta and Ashwini Joglekar for the feedback on the first cut and suggestions to improve the overall video-story.
Categories
All Education Innovation Organization Schools Startups

These IITians are solving a problem that every school faces! Worth sharing!

Amrutash, my batch mate from IIT Madras, left his lucrative job to start a library business which failed to get the desired readership. Naresh, also my batch-mate (we shared the same hostel and wing even) joined theater after IIT, but realized he could not make enough money from that.

It is amazing to see how today, both Amrutash & Naresh have joined hands to create a successful business that is solving a problem almost every school faces.

This 3MS is their story and what they do and how schools are loving them.

Categories
All Education Innovation NGO Organization Social

A bunch of school students have found a unique way to empower rural women

When you start watching this short documentary, you might not notice much beyond a bunch of girls trying to make something in a hobby class. But the impact of what they are doing, on their lives, will bring a broad smile to your face.

When Malaika wrote to me about some of the interesting and inspiring things students like herself were doing at Mahindra United World College (MUWC) of India, I had imagined a bunch of college students trying to change the world they lived in. It was only when I finally visited the campus last month in Paud, Pune, that I realized that these students (though indeed trying the change the world and all of that) were actually school students! MUWC is an equivalent of XI-XII standard school and the most interesting aspect that I noticed about it was that it had students from all over the world! Wow – I would have died to study in a school like after my tenth! I didn’t even know not for profit schools like these existed, when I was in school! 🙁

Anyway, so let me not write here what this latest short documentary of mine is about. You should see it for yourself. And if you like what these school kids are doing for the rural women folk (living near their campus), do show support in whichever way you can! You can share this documentary online or just drop a mail to them (seemacircle@gmail.com) acknowledging the their honest effort!

Categories
All Art Organization

You’ll never ask why some photographers still use film-cameras, after watching this

Neelabh, my best friend from school and my partner at ShaadiGraPher has been an avid film photography lover. He owns multiple film cameras, often shoots with them (except when on commercial shoots such as weddings) and most of the times, develops his own photographs by creating a miniature darkroom in his  house. His fridge is full of film-rolls. I often wondered why he cared about film-photography when he could so easily shoot on a digital camera and get the same result? In any case, he was shooting digital anyway. So why care about films? Just an obsession, a hobby? What was it? It wasn’t very clear. What was clear to me was that, very very few people today bothered about film photography. So what exactly was holding back these select few photographers such as Neelabh to the charm of film photography, the old school photography, I could never truly understand.

One fine day, I was discussing with Neelabh the idea of making a documentary on any interesting story that I could find. He suggested I meet the guys at Goa-CAP. What is Goa-CAP, I asked him? CAP stands for Centre for Alternate Photography. These people are film photography lovers and they have been running a community darkroom in Calangute – a centre where all those who are interested in the art of film-processing, can get together and experiment with different processes. There are several different chemical processes to develop a negative into a physical photograph – some even more than 100 years old. And though a lot of info is available online, if you really wanted to try something, you might find it difficult to either get your hands at the right equipment, or the required chemicals or you might realize that the process that you found online, did not yield the desired result, because it was written keeping say Europe’s climate in mind, while you were trying the same in Amchi Mumbai. Goa CAP was helping all these film photography enthusiasts, learn and experiment together.

Neelabh asked me to meet his online friend Edson, one of the three co-founders of Goa-CAP. Edson was responsible for running the community darkroom in Goa. And so I decided to meet him. He could finally help me understand what made people like him and Neelabh still care about film photography even in today’s world of digital camera. Was it because, film-cameras gave better quality or because it made some people feel special – made them feel they were doing something superior that the lowly digital photographers had no clue about? I had several different theories, but I was never really sure, what truly explained the passion of these guys. Passion to still pursue a technology that to me was so clearly obsolete.

After that first meeting with Edson, I hanged around a lot with him and his friend Madhavan – who was the other co-founder of Goa-CAP. And they told their story. And I liked their story. And gradually I came to indeed appreciate the real reason why they still cared about film photography and film processing. At that time, I wasn’t very sure on how to present their story though. I had assumed I would make a 10 to 20 minute documentary but there was so much that they had to say that I found it difficult to put together a nice coherent and most importantly, interesting story. And so the Project went dormant for a long time. I had lengthy footage from my interviews with both Edson and Madhavan – but I did not know how to use them effectively. Until the idea of 3 minute stories occurred. Just like that.

So I went back to the footage that I had, and tried to find the most interesting thing that I could bring out from the hotchpotch of insights that I had gained from these two guys. And there I had – a simply story about why Goa-CAP was doing what it was doing. Which at the same time explained why some people still cared about film photography. And there I had – my first 3 minute story.

I would like to thank Edson and Madhavan for sharing their story and to allow me to shoot footage in their centre (which is presently moving to a different place in Goa and hence is not functional). I would also like to thank the folks experimenting at Goa-CAP who you see in this short-doc (I don’t remember everyone’s names but Sandra, Ajay and Nelvin are three of them – Sandra is an alternate photographer from Mexico who had come down to Goa for a short while; Ajay is a Delhi based painter; and Nelvin is an architect based out of Goa itself). I also thank my wife for helping me connect to a painter friend of her’s – Prerna, and to Prerna for letting me film her at her house, as she worked on her upcoming painting. And for her generous hospitality.

I hope this 3 minute story creates some awareness about what photography really means to some people, especially in today’s digital world when we don’t think beyond seeing and clicking and seeing again. I hope the film photography lovers will like it even more because it strives to explain why they do what they do!