It is wonderful to be in India once again and though I have only been here for a day I feel at home in Jodhpur already. Durag Niwas is a beautiful home and Govind and a number of volunteers, Annie, Poppy and Jamila, have made me feel exceptionally settled at Sambhali. Today I sat in on a couple of English classes to see the teachers in action and to meet the girls. At Sambhali itself the classes are largely made up of teenage girls from the Dalit community. I was surprised to see how engaged and interactive many of them were and it lessened my fears that I would be left standing lecturing at the front of a retiring and silent group of participants. Although a few are shy many of the girls seem to have a strength of character that reveals their street wise backgrounds and nearly all of them possess a ready smile. Tomorrow I will spend more time with them before meeting Govind and two of the permanent teachers here, Simi and Tamana, to establish which ten girls might benefit most from participating in the workshop. The decision will be based in part on those girls who are able to come on a daily basis and those who have a level of literacy or english that will enable us to understand each other as well as we can. One of the teachers will act as a permanent translator which is essential and I feel it is important to find out from them which girls they think will engage most with this programme and add the most to the group dynamic we are looking to foster. I am impatient to get started and to get to know the girls better but I know this will come in time. I look forward to giving them their cameras and to see the first images they make of their worlds. I think many of the other volunteers and teachers here are as excited about the workshop as myself and the girls!
i to eye workshops aim to use photography as a therapeutic aid. They create a fun and engaging environment in which the participants learn the basics of photography whilst being encouraged to use their cameras as a means of exploring and expressing themselves and the hardships many of them have endured and continue to face on a daily basis. i to eye hopes to redress the balance of photojournalism a little by placing the camera in the hands of those often the subject of photographs and allowing them to tell their own stories for a change and to control the context in which these stories are then seen.