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By Vasuki Belavadi

One of the major challenges that participatory video (PV) facilitators face is introducing video vocabulary in a language that the participants can understand.

I had earlier written that we have taken up building the capacities of tribal children/ adolescents in Surguja district (Chhattisgarh) at the village-level to report, document, disseminate, and monitor various activities related to health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation and enter into a dialogue with the community & the local administration.  Our objective has been to develop a pool of community journalists who would attempt to mainstream issues concerning their rights and their community. The children we work with are school dropouts and many of them hadn’t even stepped out of their villages until they all came together for the workshop at Ambikapur. For many others, dropping out of school only meant adding to the family purse by working as construction labourers.

In the first phase of the training on PV, we introduced them to the camera and shot sizes. Introducing them to the camera parts was challenging. The terms we all use in universities made no sense to them. These had to be first translated into Hindi following which they were encouraged to come up with their own vocabulary in Chhattisgarhi/ Surgujiya. Therefore, the lens cap became ‘dhakkan‘, viewfinder became ‘chota TV‘ and memory cards became ‘chips‘. The best translation was of the tripod–‘teen taang‘!

The next challenge was to introduce them to shot sizes. This time, the kids themselves came up with names all the seven shot sizes! In Surgujiya. Here’s what they called them:


Later, they shot some scenes and did some soundbites (they’re yet to learn to do in depth interviews) and it was time to introduce them to editing. Conceptually, introducing them to editing was simple. “Editing is similar to stitching clothes,” I said. “You purchase cloth (shoot footage) and then give it to a tailor. The tailor then cuts out unnecessary pieces and then stitches them together to make a shirt. To make it look better, he adds some bells and whistles to the shirt (effects, transitions etc.).”

Easy to understand.

But then, how to introduce them to the editing system, the software and the interface in a language they can understand?

My colleague Sumit first explained all the parts of the editing system–the UPS, the Central Processing Unit (CPU), Monitor, the Keyboard and the Mouse. Relating them with each other still proved a challenge. But by now, the kids had understood that it was time to come up with their own vocabulary. They came up with this:


aaaaInquisitiveness and enthusiasm is a pre-requisite to learning. And the kids from Surguja have tonnes of both!


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