Community engagement and participation has intensified as the video van run is progressing. From curious onlookers to enthusiastic adolescents, excited children and interested shopkeepers, thoughtful men and women discussing and debating video van messages, a crowd engrossed in watching the theatre of oppressed, cooperative stakeholders and supportive local government representatives – the diverse community has a common thread that is binding them these days. They all have been an avid audience of the video van run organized by Breakthrough in Lucknow.
Video van shows have attracted, engrossed, engaged and inspired them. The shows have motivated and stirred them enough to not only pause and watch but also participate and express their opinions. Some like the Gram Pradhans of Churahiya village and the Pradhan’s family of Malookpur village have been so moved that they have extended special support to the ‘De Taali’ adolescent empowerment project.
‘I will donate pens for your programme’ promised Mr Mohan, Pradhan of Churahiya village and as promised he arranged 200 pens for adolescents of his village who are part of community based ‘Taaron Ki Toli’ intervention which is an integral part of the ‘De Taali’ project. This intervention consists of a collection of games and activities for adolescent group members that take the young people on a journey of self-discovery and development. These games and activities encourage the users to consider viewpoints and perceptions that are different from theirs. These also provide them with skills to explore opportunities and influence change towards a gender equitable family, community and society.
‘De Taali-Banegi Baat Saath Saath’ – the feeling of togetherness and spirit of cooperation conveyed in this programme title is permeating into the community. When video van run was initiated in his block Gosainganj, the Pradhan of Churahiya village (one of the longest serving Pradhan – 45 years) spent his resources for organizing a small inaugural ceremony of video van run in his village. He also positively used his political clout and rapport to encourage several block level government officials to be present for this event, specially made possible by his resourcefulness and support.
Similar is the case of Pushpa’s family. Pushpa is Pradhan of Malookpur village. Her entire family has extended support and they have also donated 200 pens for adolescents who are part of ‘Taaron Ki Toli’ intervention.
‘I will do the wall writing’ volunteered Meeta (name changed) of Bakhari village of Gosainganj block. She is not alone. Several adolescents have been successfully engaged, be it wall writing or be it volunteering to act by taking up Chanda’s role (protagonist in Theatre of Oppressed staged during video van run) or expressing their opinions on education and early marriage. Girls from even socially and economically marginalized communities are showing courage to speak and act in front of a large community. With an entire programme focusing on adolescent empowerment, girls who have been raised in a culture of silence are getting the courage to raise and voice their concerns and opinions.
‘Please also write the helpline numbers on the walls of my shop’ requested the owner of a village shop, in Mohanlaganj Block. Video van run has influenced him too and even he wants to make his contribution to social messaging.
As the video van travels through the dusty tracks and meandering pathways in the rural blocks of Lucknow regaling the audiences, motivating the community, inspiring reflective thinking amongst the community, we are sure to find more Mohans, Pushpas and Meetas. We hope the positive messaging of the video van will promote more people to make their contributions to make this programme a success, to make their bit of difference to the community and to further disseminate the message to say ‘no’ to early marriage, to promote education of girls and to establish gender equality in society.