New Delhi: At a time when freedom of expression is being challenged at many forums in India, Adobe Youth Voices is trying to do just the opposite. The Delhi NGO is empowering students to tell their own stories using films and pictures.
Fifteen-year-old Pratibha Jha wants to be a filmmaker. Exploring the world through her camera lense is a highlight of her school life. Another teenager Soni wants to lend her voice to her own stories and her confidence shines through as she takes charge.
Pratibha and Soni are both members of Adobe Youth Voices - an initiative that helps thousands of students across government schools and NGOs in India use technology to express themselves. And through Adobe Youth Voices, these young talented artists are creating pithy videos, photo-essays, radio shows and presentations. "For me documentary is the golden chance to express my views," Pratibha says.
It has been a year since the students of SADRAG NGO joined hands with Adobe Youth Voices. And the first-ever community screening of their projects was an instant hit in their neighbourhood. "My teachers tell me to observe everything very carefully," says Roopa Kumari.
The educators are as excited about the initiative as are the participants and they say that the children consciously take inspiration from matters that affect their community and daily lives as focus for their projects.
"I think this is the first hand experience that they wanted to talk about. And I think it was worth it. This project is all about getting the youth voices across to be heard by the public. When we listen to their stories they have some real stories from their first hand experiences," says Rajshri Ram Mohan, an educator.
This is Adobe Youth Voices' seventh year in India. The project operates across 90 sites in India reaching over to 2,700 children. Their annual screening event is that time of the year when the children's hard work is recognised and appreciated.
With their unbelievable mature depth of vision and innocent story telling, the children are bringing about changes in their lives using one of the most powerful tools - freedom of expression. Be it through the lense of a camera, a picture speaking a thousand words or a voice that narrates the story of their life.