Making disadvantaged children the advocates for change in their communities


Two youth from London collaborate with NGO Nidan to train young boys and girls of Madanpur Khadar in the art of movie making

It is a story of empowering children of a neglected informal settlement called Madanpur Khadar in the south east of national capital to become the advocates for change in their communities through innovative digital media. The children pick up the issues of social divide, pathology and economic-political exploitation, write the script, handle the movie camera, shoot the footage and edit them, and then, the films made by the children are screened before the children and other adult community members.  During screening the young child moviemakers cry and laugh, and thank two youth from London Leon Etchells and Alba Mendoza for enabling them to make tryst with limelight. The films made over a period of seven days focused on child labour, child marriage, female infertility and alcoholism.

The two youth of London has started an initiative ‘Voices of India’. They are set to travel to 28 states of India and are collaborating with a well known NGO Nidan and other Ashoka fellows.  The Ashoka fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who have come up with innovative solutions to social problems and have the potential to change the patterns across society.

“The main aim is to give the children a voice of empowerment through digital innovative media, which is the most powerful medium of expression in today’s world. The movies they make about their circumstances will be uploaded on the website,” Leon said on Saturday after the screening of the films at Nidan run center in Madanpur Khadar in Delhi.

A large of children and adult community members along with Nidan director Arbind Singh, Delhi head Sangeeta Singh and information & communication manager Anurag Shankar were present on the occasion. The child moviemakers include the youngest a seven year old Shubhankar who handled the camera and directed the film on child labour.  16 years old Neeharika and Rashmi developed film on infertility and travails of a woman.

“Madanpur Khadar has been an amazing experience. We came across people who were not only warm and inviting, but also evinced curiosity and a keen interest to learn the art (of filmmaking),” Leon said.

He said the first two of the seven days of the workshop were used to build a rapport with the participants, followed by an introduction to the beauty of filmmaking, discussions on social issues and things that affected them. They were then trained to handle a movie camera, told about different types of shots and related technicalities, various techniques of filmmaking and the various genres. On the third day, they were asked to choose a social issue to write a script, design costumes and decide on the setting for their shoot — to shoot in natural surroundings. They were given a camera and a free hand on the fourth day to shoot their movie and also act in it. In the evening of the same day, they started editing the footage to cut the movie down to 10 minutes.

Alba, a Spaniard who has a degree in social education and community development, was working in London when she met and teamed up with Leon to work among disadvantaged people of India.

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