Last November I was selected, along with 30 other women, as a Voice of our Future correspndent by World Pulse - a women's media house based in Portland, Oregon. Eight months later, I am holding in my hand an itenerary for the Live speaking tour of the US - an annual series of public engagement events that is organized by the same World Pulse. So, come September second week, and I will be there - in New York, Atlanta, Washington DC and Portland. Joining me will be two other Voice of our Future correspondents from Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria. Together, we are going to tell our hyperlocal stories of the grassroot doers and changes to the American audience, this time in person.
How happy am I? 'Elated' probably would be the right word to describe the feelings.
One year ago, after leaving Video Volunteers, a community media organization based in Goa, India, I had shifted to Hyderabad with nothing but a dream: to write stories that I actually cared for; stories that would highlight environment and how it affected women, especially those from the marginalized segments of the society. With no job and this seemingly impossible dream , I was starting a new leaf of life, one that was full of risks: rejection, frustration and even starvation.
1) I became a part of a network of women that's spread in - hold your breath - 187 countries! Who are these women? Human rights activists, lawyers, nurses, journalists, artists, best-seller authors and more! And yes, they are all accessible, approchable and ready to support you in whatever you are doing.
2) I heard what I had always longed to hear: if you wrote a piece with a solution in sight, so a reader could ask "what can I do about it?" and find an answer, it would be read. And appreciated.
Today, I am writing for, among others, the very prestigious Reuters/Alertnet (UK) and the Global Press Institute (US). I get mails from women - and men - who live in places I had barely heard of: Malawi, Bolivia, Siberia, Sierra Leone, Barbados. And I am writing on issues that are close to my heart: children of nomadic tribes learning to read and write in a moving bus, women sex workers helping fellow sex workers, trying to give them an alternative way to live life, barely-literate women in villages braving bullets of insurgents and bringing development and so on. The best things is, I don't have to take a scowl or sarcasm from a boss who always thought I was playing 'L'enfante terrible', wasting time on "non-issues".
But this is only my story. A part of it.
There are similar stories that my colleagues from the Congo and Syria have in their kitty.
So, come September, and we will be there, telling all these stories of spent energy, rolling tears, renewed hopes, smiles and changing lives. .It will be a fall of rising voices. See you there?