As an established filmmaker, Blossom volunteered twice for AFP. She first filmed an environmental disaster in Uttar Pradesh and then went on to film domestic violence abuse in Gujarat.
Placement 1: Filmmaker
Location: Amarkpurkashi, Uttar Pradesh
Partner Organisation: Society for Agro Industrial Education
Placement 2: Filmmaker
Location: Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Partner Organisation: Ahmedabad Women’s Action group (AWAG)
“I gained an insight into development work and the change that can result from the determination of a few individuals working on the ground.”
Why did you want to volunteer for AFP?
I had been attending events hosted by AFP and it was at one of these events that the possibility of volunteering became very real. I had watched a video that was shown during the talk that evening and saw the impact it had on the audience and knew I could help in some way or another. The possibility of film making in a different country, experiencing new things and stepping out of my comfort zone were what drove me to do this.
What was your first placement about?
The first placement was centered on a small village, Amarpurkashi in Uttar Pradesh. I was hosted by Mukatji and his wife Jyoti, local residents who are passionate about their village. They run various projects such as setting up schools, colleges, eye camps and environmental initiatives to name a few. My role was to record the effects of pollution on the environment and to collect the feelings of the local community. The aim of the film is to raise awareness of this issue and in turn pressurize the paper factory responsible for the pollution to operate within legislation. The film is to be used in as many contexts as possible to bring about awareness and hopefully result in change for the residents.
“The key lesson I learnt was the importance of adapting to the local environment, observing and listening.”
Your second placement was also producing a film, but the objectives were different. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
I produced a documentary film on AWAG’s (Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group) pioneering work in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. This organisation supports and empowers victims of domestic violence. We talked to four women who’d suffered, tracing the way in which they’d benefited from AWAG’s important rehabilitation programmes. These programmes are key to improving the women’s self-esteem and enabling them to get back on their feet and support themselves.
The documentary will be shown to both Indian and international audiences, at film festivals, and to statutory bodies, policy makers, trainers and other NGOs working in the area of women’s studies.
What are the main things you learned from your volunteering experience?
I gained an insight into development work and the change that can result from the determination of a few passionate individuals. I learned a lot about different cultures and the challenges faced by local people.
My most vivid memory of my time in India is the intimate moments spent with people when the camera was switched off, especially the women in Gujarat. The experience has taken me out of my comfort zone, built my confidence and allowed me to do something completely different to what I’m used to!