Monday, February 17, 2014

Speaking a thousand words

Tata Capital's DoRight campaign is certainly doing the right thing by actively seeking to do that which is good, that which exemplifies the value system and ethos of the Tata group, to which the company belongs.

The Half Stories campaign sees Pankaj, an itinerant photographer commissioned by Tata Capital to traverse 2000 km across the length and breadth of India, to look for ordinary stories in the lives of ordinary people. Stories that clamour for our attention on the strength of their mere simplicity. Stories of struggle and difficulties which deserve to come to fruition, but which fail to achieve their simple dreams for lack of a crucial resource: money.

As I write this post, the Half Stories campaign has already touched the lives of three people in Dharamsala and Manali in Himachal Pradesh and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.

For its latest Half story, Pankaj found himself in Mumbai, where he was privileged to spend time with the speech- and hearing-impaired children of a school called Koshish School for the Deaf. Named after the Hindi word for effort or attempt, the school admirably tries to train these children to live their lives by working around their disabilities. 

Here Pankaj encountered ENT Dr Ajay Kothari, also a trustee of the school, who trains the children to communicate their thoughts and ideas to the world. The school itself employs numerous means, including the graph method, lip reading, touching the throat to make out the sounds of the vowels etc.

Having spent time with the children, Pankaj zeroed in on Shahin and Chetan, two young boys who were fascinated by the camera he carried. And so was born a new seed of an idea. What if these two young boys were given cameras and the freedom to show us their unique perspective of the world? What kind of treasures would it reveal?

Over the course of three days, Pankaj offered them some basic photography skills on lighting, composition, aperture etc and the passion and enthusiasm of the boys filled in the gaps for them. In order to equip them with the means to capture their vision for the rest of us to see, it was necessary to give them their own cameras.

The effort required Rs 31,500, an amount that was mobilised quickly when other ordinary hearts across the online space came to know of this unique wish-granting campaign of Tata Capital.

Suddenly it wasn’t such a noiseless world at all. Shahin and Chetan had a fantastic opportunity to show us, noisy, talkative people a slice of the world that we have never seen before. It was an entrancing sight.

Surely if photography skills were taught to more of these children, it would enable them to express themselves like never before. The lack of sounds and words would no longer limit their world. Photography could also pave the way for a career option for the talented among them. 

A photograph could actually speak more than a thousand words.

In the days to come, the Doright campaign will continue to touch other lives, and complete other Half stories. Let’s hope more of us bolster their efforts to do the right thing.

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