Eighteen-year-old Kam-od Singh Ahirwar of Chechli village in Sohapur tehsil of Hoshangabad district candidly narrates all the problems of his village. From lackadaisical teaching staff to poor electricity supply to sanitation, he forks them out with ease.
Ninth standard student Lal Singh of Gundaria hamlet rattles off the same problems but in a different tone. He talks about the need to have good teachers in schools.
Both Kamod and Lal Singh are abreast of the problems that plague their villages. But they need a platform to delineate them. Both know well the might of pen and have a desire to write their woes so that it could reach the authorities.
The two are among the 35-40 child reporters selected between the age group 11-18 by the Dalit Sangh, an organisation that works for the socially oppressed communities in Sohagpur. The Sangh with the help of UNICEF is going to take out a quarterly Newsletter ‘Bachon Ki Awaz’ which will be written by children of five villages Jamonia, Semri Harchan, Gundavai,
Turakhapa and Chicli. A large chunk will be from the backward communities-Pardi and Sapera.
Enumerating the details, Dr Authey Gopal, Chief Functionary Officer of Dalit Sangh in Sohagpur said, “The objective was to give them a platform to air their problems.” The first issue of the four-page edition is scheduled for release in March and is likely to have 30-40 news stories.
More than 200 names had come from the government schools of the five villages. A written test was conducted to judge their writing skills.
The test focusing on five subjects asked the children to write on a subject of their choice, a model village, newspaper, problem of village and sanitation. Several interesting facets came to fore during the test, said Dr Gopal adding, “for instance one of the girls said that Chichli village has been notified as a model village by the government, but the hamlet does not have any drains.”
A workshop conducted by some selected journalists will train child reporters on the nitty-gritty of journalism. They will also be trained in making cartoons.
Barring grammatical mistakes, which would be corrected, the news would not be edited and would be placed as such so that it retained the originality and simplicity, he said. The child reporters would also get an opportunity to interview administrative authorities including the sarpanch and collector.
The success or failure of the newsletter notwithstanding, Kanmod Singh and Lal Singh will certainly get an opportunity to put forth their problems to someone who can ‘redress’ them.