Our life, our film
Publisher: GROOTS International and Swayam Shikshan Prayog
Publication Date: Jan 2004
In 26 January 2001, Gujarat state in western India was devastated by an earthquake that left more than 20,000 dead, 167,000 injured and 700,000 homes destroyed. This film looks at the lives of women and children three years later. It was directed by eight women in quake-ravaged Kutch and Saurashtra regions, and produced by GROOTS and Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP). They travel to affected villages and talk to other people affected by the crisis. The goal of this film is to tell how women and children have progressed from crisis to development. The ways in which children were affected by the disaster are explored at length, and stories are told of efforts to continue their education after the disaster. Women’s organisations formed in the Kuda village provide members with microloans for healthcare and education, and to set up businesses. One woman tells that her group is comprised of women from different castes and religions. Women gather together in collectives to resolve basic problems such as those related to childcare, water, electricity, for example. Since these activities began, the lives of children and the development of the entire village have remarkably improved. The film also tells how the villages of Narayan Par and Shangarh have not fared so well; lacking basic necessities, it is more difficult to send children to school. In this context, the particular challenges of female children are highlighted. Instead of pursuing an education, poor girls take care of siblings and household chores while their parents are working; while upper caste girls are prevented from leaving the house due to cultural norms. A local community centre has become a place where adolescent girls who have dropped out of school can receive an education. The film ends with messages of changing attitudes, indicating more people supporting the idea of providing girls and women with greater opportunities and freedoms.