Shooting to be heard

Published: 08 December, 2013 12:03 IST | Shubha Shetty-Saha |

Leon Atchells from Britain and his partner Alba Mendonza from Spain didn't want to visit India as tourists. So they formed Voices of India, a company to empower disadvantaged children through film-making

Tell me a bit about Voice of India and your role in it.
Voices of India is an initiative to empower the youth of India through innovative digital media and to provide a voice for children who may not get heard. Alba and I came up with the concept last September. The project is a culmination of everything we enjoy in life.

Leon Atchells with his students who are part of the Voices of India initiative

How did you come up with the idea?
I did my graduation from the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, I also have experience working as an English teacher for the High Commission of the Maldives. My partner Alba has a degree in social education and community development. We were thinking of ways to help others and so, we wanted to travel to India but only if we were doing something good for the people.

What kind of research did you do before taking on the assignment?

We contacted various NGOs in and companies in India for sponsorship. We also spoke to the Children’s Film Society of India. Initially we didn't get a good response. Then we wrote a project proposal, planned how we could do this effectively. We started a crowdfunding campaign and also got some advice from Australian filmmaker, Stephen Curtain.

What inspired you to do this?

I think it’s important to help others when you come from a privileged background. I went to United World College of South East Asia in Singapore founded by Nelson Mandela, where we were taught about social and environmental issues. The learning has stayed with me.

Tell us about your experiences during this project?

We worked with poor children in Bangalore. At first we found them to be very aggressive. But as the workshops progressed, they changed dramatically. By the end, during the screening when people spoke about films, they would listen to every word we said. One group made a beautiful silent film on their lives called Street Children which can be seen on the website,

What next?
We plan to take these films around the country and project them on buildings through a process called projection mapping.

Voices of India can be contacted at:

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