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Beneficiaries share inspiring stories at PHDMA Fest

Bhubaneswar: The five-day workshop-cum-seminar organised by the Poverty and Human Development Monitoring Agency (PHDMA) saw a first-of-its-kind beneficiary meet along with inspiring stories from sector-specific personalities.

The workshop called PHDMA Fest 2022 concluded on November 30.

The fest aimed to give government scheme beneficiaries a platform to share their stories.

Over 10 beneficiaries from across the state were selected keeping various themes and schemes in mind taking part in narrating their lived realities. Besides, 11 sectoral experts or inspiring individuals from different fields interacted with the PHDMA members and shared their life stories.

The event kickstarted with a superb session with a successful and progressive farmer from Kalahandi, Krushna Chandra Nag, who narrated his journey from an aimless youngster 20 years ago to a rich and inspiring farmer now. The team had earlier covered his story during a field visit in 2021. The ever-smiling and talkative farmer was full of confidence and never shied away from taking pride in his occupation.

“After spending major chunk of my youth without an aim, I decided to start farming on my father’s insistence. I initiated my journey as a farmer with chilly farming from a small patch of land and now, I own 14 acres of farmland and earn in millions. I conduct training sessions in collaboration with government departments,” expressed the farmer.

His session was followed by young filmmaker Arjun Samantray, who showcased his documentaries ‘My Grandmother’s Hand’ and ‘Anandban’ that were strongly emotive, visually pleasing and aesthetically sensitive. The Jatni-born theatre and film personality cited about his love for the state and his roots.

The third session of the day was the oral representation of a woman journalist’s struggle and determination to overcome any hurdle in professional as well as personal life. Senior journalist and communication professional Sarada Lahangir took the gathering on a detour of her journalism career in Odisha when rarely any woman was active in mainstream professional field reporting.

A career spanning more than 25 years in television, print and digital media, she stressed upon how social impact stories have yielded her accolades and awards from various institutions of repute as well as praises from eminent personalities and members of the public. She inspired PHDMA team especially the young girls saying that one has to find ways out of difficulties and possess an attitude of “never give up” in life to succeed in one’s profession and in the process bring transformation in the lives of people.

Abdaal M Akhtar, collector and DM, Koraput joined the workshop through video conferencing in the afternoon. He provided a glimpse of the anthropological history of Koraput narrating about its people, culture, lifestyle and livelihood patterns and more. He enlightened us towards the path of development taken up by the tribal population and their journey towards modernization. He explained in details about the transformation that he has witnessed within the people of the community and how they’ve taken this up with stride and the success experienced by them.

The second day of the workshop started with two simultaneous sessions of two beneficiaries from Puri and Kendrapara. Young Pattachitra artist Purushottam Swain from Raghurajpur described about the history and practices of pattachitra making. He also highlighted about the gradual growth and transformation of this art form and its marketing in today’s world. At the same time fish farmer Mrs Sarada Kalyani Pany talked about her lived realities as a fisheries practitioner using bio-floc and how it has been helping her in her economic as well as social development.

A video conferencing session with Himanshu Upadhyay, assistant professor, Azim Premji University shared that much learning needed in the social development space can only through immersing in field reality. Along with this it’s important to be able to contextualise reality with theory learnt in classrooms and anyone in the social sector may need to anchor this learning balance throughout careers. His final message to the audience was an assertion that the work of continuous monitoring that PHDMA does is very critical. “However, change will be slow, and may even be invisible. As young people the team may have to keep the faith and courage to keep going,” advised the professor.

Filmmaker and visual chronicler Snehasis Das was the resource person for the fourth session of the day. During his session, he shared his journey as a film maker focusing on different development issues. He accentuated that Government is contributing to the well-being of the people through social safety net. “Time has come when the community has to change the mindset of dependency and move forward to change their lives on their own,” spoke the filmmaker who prioritises on climate change.

He also shared his experience of making musical videos like ‘Ghar Jana Hai’, ‘Mun Sei Kalinga’, ‘Kachha Kandhei’ and ‘Hausala na Ruthey’ so that he can enhance the outreach of his audience and not keep work limited to the intellectual masses.

The final session of the day saw visually impaired lecturer Sk. Samad Kalapahad narrating his lived experience and living a normal life despite the physical limitations. He inspired the young minds of PHDMA through his narration.

The third day of the workshop opened up with Saraswati Bal, director of a Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) from Jajpur telling her tale of struggle of leading as a woman collectives head and taking the Mission Shakti movement forward in her area. The session was followed by screening of ‘Shrikhetra Ru Sahijata’ a national award-winning documentary and discussion with its maker Ashutosh Pattnaik, who gave the team a glimpse of the life and culture of Puri and the story behind the making of this docu film. Third session of the day brought Amarjit Jena, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mo School to recount his story as a witness to the transformation in education sector in the state. Renowned filmmaker Amartya Bhattacharyya took the final session of the day in which he narrated about his journey as a filmmaker, writer and balancing between his job and passion. His session was full of knowledge and insights that enabled the PHDMA team to have different perspectives in their observations.

The fourth day’s proceedings started with simultaneous sessions of a physically handicapped weaver from Bargarh and a Block Level Coordinator from Koraput, who works as a cutting edge functionary. While Sangeet Luha talked about carrying forward the family tradition of weaving and his growth after getting support from state government, the VOP Debendra Panda recounted his life experience as a cutting edge functionary and working as a voice of PHDMA (VOP).

The simultaneous sessions were followed by a motivational phase in which paraplegic actor and disability activist Jitendra Kumar Biswal literally motivated everyone attending the workshop through his life stories and positive vibes. His never-say-die attitude and enjoy-life-to-the-fullest approach enhanced the self-confidence among all participants. His session was followed by a one-hour discussion on Development Journalism and Writing in Odia in which journalists Bidyadhar Panda, Gargy Satapathy and Chidananda Jena shared their knowledge and stories from their reporting careers.

The final day witnessed three strong people sharing their stories one after other. Samari Tangulu, Zilla Parishad president, Malkangiri was the first speaker of the day whose gracious nature and narration of her struggle as a woman from Swabhiman Anchal moved everyone. The second session was taken by Lucky Hota, Community Resource Person (CRP), award-winning mushroom farmer and Youtuber from Bolangir who spoke in length about her success in every field as she kept on sticking to the work she took up. Third speaker of the day was Saditya Behera, a farmer from Bargarh who shared about the lift irrigation support he got from state government, that has turned his barren land into a crop bowl and earns him in millions annually now.

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