Training

Varta Trust offers orientation, sensitization and training sessions – one-off and series of workshops – on gender, sexuality and related issues to NGOs, educational institutions, government agencies, corporate bodies and other groups / agencies.

This service may be offered in lieu of donations to Varta Trust, on the basis of individual consultancy arrangements (on behalf of Varta Trust), or in relation to a grant of funds.

Please write to us at vartablog@gmail.com to discuss your requirements and other details.

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Varta Community Reporters Training and Citizen Journalism Programme

Programme objective: This six-month programme aims to build communication, documentation and journalistic skills among youth and other groups marginalized around gender, sexuality or other social markers. The focus is mainly on individuals from beyond metropolitan centres and those who have had limited educational or other socioeconomic opportunities. In the process the idea is also to enhance the employability of the participants.

Programme content and activities: Training workshops (including online ones), fieldwork, mentoring and writers workshops on issues around gender, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, disability, social security, human rights, communication, documentation, storytelling and citizen journalism are part of the programme. Initial training activities may be spread over a month.

Activists, social workers, academics and practitioners with several years of experience from relevant spheres conduct the training activities. While English is the primary language for the training curriculum and activities, other Indian languages that the participants are more comfortable in are also used.

A four to five-month mentored content generation phase follows the initial training phase. The participants – Varta Community Reporters or VCRs – are encouraged to contribute articles, audio-visual material, photographs and graphics to the Varta webzine (or other online publications), usually on a monthly basis. The VCRs are paid a small monthly stipend to help them meet expenses involved in fieldwork and reporting activities, and as an incentive in addition to seeing their contributions published.

In the final month of the programme, an evaluation is conducted which includes both individual qualitative assessments and larger group assessment. Participants are provided certificates of participation as well as inputs on further skills building and exposure to other training programmes.

Programme specifics: Training programme announcements are made usually once a year (at the start of the calendar year). Training is usually free, though participants may need to pay a nominal registration fee and use some of their own equipment (like computers, smart phones or cameras). Only a small number of participants are selected for each edition of the programme, with the primary requirement being a high level of commitment to complete the programme!

Selection: Applicants are usually asked to submit a short written, audio or video document explaining their motivation for participation in the programme. They may also need to demonstrate an aptitude for the issues and skills covered by the programme through submission of past or new works (in text, photographs, graphic art or audio-visual material).

There are no requirements for a minimum educational or professional qualification. However, some degree of fluency in English and / or at least one other Indian language is required. In terms of age, participants must be at least 18 years old. In each edition of the programme, in keeping with the position statement of Varta Trust, an effort is made to ensure as much diversity as possible in the selection of participants. There is no bar on repeat participation.

First edition – Manipur Pilot (March to August 2018)

The first edition of the VCR Programme was part of a larger 20-month training, research and advocacy project to support economic inclusion of queer people in Manipur. The project, Sexual and Gender Diversity, Welfare and Precarity in India: Impact, Advocacy and Process, ran from August 2016 to March 2018, and was led by AMaNA, a transgender women’s collective in Manipur, and ETA, a support forum for transgender men, lesbians and bisexual women in Manipur.

Implementation was supported by ally NGOs SAATHII, Imphal; CORE Manipur, Imphal; and Varta Trust, Kolkata. The project was supported financially and technically by the Sussex Social Science Impact Fund, University of Sussex, UK.

The Manipur pilot of the VCR Programme aimed to provide continuity to outreach and advocacy efforts started under the economic inclusion advocacy project. Stories, photographs and audio-visual material produced by the VCRs covered cultural, legal, health and sanitation issues around economic exclusion of queer people, and were published in Varta webzine under a column called Manipur Diary (see sample stories here and here).

Six individuals associated with AMaNA and ETA started the programme and three completed it. The first edition team can be seen in the photograph below. From left to right in the front row are: Moirangmayum Asha (participant), Shampa Sengupta (resource person), Thingnam Anjulika Samom (resource person), Oinam Yambung (participant) and Randhoni Lairikyengbam (resource person). In the second row are: Santa Khurai, Moirganthem Ton, Bonita Pebam and Lily Khumbongmayum (all participants). Behind the camera: Pawan Dhall (resource person and VCR Programme Coordinator).

This photograph shows the full team for the first edition of the Varta Community Reporters Training and Citizen Journalism Programme, which was held in Manipur state. From left to right in the front row are Moirangmayum Asha (participant), Shampa Sengupta (resource person), Thingnam Anjulika Samom (resource person), Oinam Yambung (participant) and Randhoni Lairikyengbam (resource person); in the second row from left to right are Santa Khurai, Moirganthem Ton, Bonita Pebam and Lily Khumbongmayum (all participants). The training sessions for the Manipur pilot of the VCR Programme were held at the SAATHII office and Imphal Hotel over three days. The photograph was taken at Imphal Hotel on the final day of the training sessions (on March 29, 2018). Photo credit: Pawan Dhall, training resource person and VCR Programme Coordinator.

The training sessions for the Manipur pilot of the VCR Programme were held at the SAATHII office and Imphal Hotel over three days. The photograph was taken at Imphal Hotel on the final day of the training sessions (on March 29, 2018).

Second edition – Multi-state Pilot (February to July 2019)

The second (ongoing) edition of the VCR Programme is part of a project focussed on the creation of an online searchable database (or locator) on queer friendly sexual health, mental health and legal aid service providers in India. The project is a three-way collaboration between Varta Trust, Kolkata; SAATHII, Chennai; and Grindr For Equality, Los Angeles.

This second pilot programme aims to facilitate community monitoring of sexual health, mental health, legal aid and social welfare services in India, especially with regard to how queer-friendly these services are in their functioning. The training phase of the programme was completed through a series of online workshops during February-April 2019. The content generation phase, which started in April 2019, is currently on – sample stories published in Varta under column name VCR Diary can be seen here, here and here.

The full team of the second edition of the programme (four participants and five resource persons) can be seen in the graphic below (graphic credit Prosenjit Pal). The participants include Bonita Pebam from Imphal, Rith Das from Kolkata, Sadam Hanjabam from Imphal and Shivalal Gautam from Guwahati. The resource persons include Debjyoti Ghosh from Chittagong and Kolkata, Pawan Dhall from Kolkata, Shampa Sengupta from Kolkata, Thingnam Anjulika Samom from Imphal and Rafiquel Haque Dowjah from Mumbai.

This is a panel of photographs of the full team of the second edition of the Varta Community Reporters Training and Citizen Journalism Programme. The second pilot of the VCR Programme was a multi-state affair and all training sessions were held online. The top row includes (from left to right) participants Bonita Pebam, gender and human rights defender from Imphal; Rith Das, photography enthusiast from Kolkata; and Sadam Hanjabam, equal rights activist associated with Ya_All Manipur. In the second row is participant Shivalal Gautam, queer activist associated with Xomonnoy, Guwahati; followed by resource persons Debjyoti Ghosh, queer rights advocate and academic from Chittagong and Kolkata; and Pawan Dhall, queer activist, writer and VCR Programme Coordinator from Kolkata. The third row has resource persons Shampa Sengupta, disability rights activist from Kolkata; Thingnam Anjulika Samom, freelance journalist and gender rights activist from Imphal; and Rafiquel Haque Dowjah, queer activist and photography enthusiast from Mumbai. Graphic credit: Prosenjit Pal.

Contact: Write to Pawan Dhall, VCR Programme Coordinator at vartablog@gmail.com.

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