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Submitted by adam on Sat, 08/29/2009 - 05:10.
Newsletter - women's centre in India
Organisation: Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi, India
Goal: Inform & maintain rapport with the readers by sharing organisation’s activities and other events the organisation is involved in.
Audience: Supporters, clients & others
Format: Newsletter Low cost, black & white
Frequency: Once every four months, issues in Hindi and English, since 1984
Sustaining a regular newsletter for 25 years entirely on voluntary effort is not easy. There is much to learn from the experience of this small women’s group. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre is a New Delhi-based autonomous women’s organisation working for the past 25 years on women’s rights. It is non-funded and runs entirely on personal donations from supportive individuals. It has functioned as both a crisis centre and a campaign group. It brings out a newsletter to which people can subscribe.
Saheli’s newsletter is a very important vehicle of communication, particularly because it runs on individual support. The newsletter keeps supporters informed about campaigns and activities. From reproductive health issues to domestic violence, from sexuality minority rights to economic policy, the Saheli Newsletter covers diverse and often difficult terrain.
The fact that Saheli works as a non-hierarchical women’s collective is both a strength and challengeas far as bringing out a time-bound publication is concerned. Communication in the absence of a formal structure can be a nightmare. The group maintains a Daily Diary where volunteers log the day’s events. It not only helps the group to understand what works and what doesn’t work, it’s also a piece of historical documentation. As a matter of editorial policy writers' bylines are not included, since this would 'fail to acknowledge the inputs of others into the newsletter – be it to type, translate, proof, edit or even post the newsletters'. (Saheli: '25 Years of Continuity and Change', August 2006)
The early issues of the newsletter tended to be text-heavy. However, group discussions and study circles brought a rich quality of intellectual rigour to the articles. In later years, the newsletter experimented with design changes, incorporated a more humorous style and used cartoons to pack a punch. In terms of content too, changes were brought in. Based on internal and external feedback, more issues began to be covered. The Saheli Newsletter continues to have wide outreach and relevance.
Fact sheets – social education in India
Project: Facts Against Myths
Organisation: Vikas Adhyayan Kendra
Goal: To give the reader facts that help them to form aknowledge-based opinion on contemporary social concerns.
Format: Information fact sheet. Low cost, black &white. 4-8 pages, question-and-answer.
Frequency: Every two months since 1993.
Each issue of Facts Against Myths examines the common myths surrounding a subject and then presents the facts refuting these myths.
Launched in 1993 by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (Development Research Centre), a Mumbai-based secular non-profit organisation, the initial aim of Facts Against Myths was to counter a growing fascist trend in India, which victimised non-Hindus using false propaganda as a primary tool. Facts Against Myths attempted to use factual and verifiable information to counter the myths and prejudices being propagated against Muslims and other religious minorities.
Over the years, the scope of the fact-sheet has widened to cover, among other issues, the myths surrounding the 'beauty' industry, the nuclear industry, the 'gene revolution', aspects of health, HIV-AIDS and industrialisation.
What can we learn from those who bring out Facts Against Myths? Leslie Rodriguez, who has been the driving force behind this publication, says 'If you want to bring out a similar publication or indeed any documentation of social relevance, you must first have a powerful, pro-people critique of society. The style, the formatting, getting the information out on time – all these are important too but they are secondary aspects of the process. The main point is to take a stand. You need to be aware of what is happening around you, identify the main issues, understand the significance of various conflicting opinions and then take a stand that is democratic and pro-people'.
How do they know whether the fact-sheet is serving a useful purpose? Leslie explains that people usually write in with praise, criticism and suggestions. He recounts how the edition on the beauty industry was heavily used by women’s groups who placed bulk orders for extra copies. Many people send in requests for back issues. But what gives the publishers the greatest satisfaction is when they receive angry responses and threats from reactionary organisations who are the main proponents of myths.'That’s when we know that the truth, as we have documented it, has really hit home.' laughs Leslie.
Regional bulletin - human rights in Mexico
Organisation: Equipo Indignación (Indignation Team),human rights promotion and defence group, Mérida, Yucatán, México
Goal: To inform, encourage and assist human rights advocates in the Yucatan Peninsula
Format: Printed bulletin and on-line publication. Low cost, green ink over white paper. 30-40 pages
Frequency: Every month or every other month, depending on available information and time, since 1999.
El Varejón is a regional human rights bulletin that the Indignación team has been publishing in the Yucatán Peninsula, southern Mexico, for almost 10 years now. The bulletin provides information, analysis and advice to small groups or individual advocates in the three administrative states into which the region is divided. It addresses a variety of issues from the perspective of human rights and Liberation Theology, and challenges the conventional and authoritarian interpretation of rights by both the State and the Catholic church.
The name El Varejón refers to a straight branch with flowers that grows out of the sisal plant at the end of its productive life. This metaphor is used to signal the hope that new life and justice will grow amidst a general situation of human rights abuses. The spirit that animates this bulletin is explained thus: 'We have joined hundreds of fellow advocates that sprouted from death itself, like the varejón, and like Human Rights'.
The bulletin started in 1999 and has since become one of the main references for human rights and social activists in the Yucatán, a region with a long history of poverty and authoritarianism. Among the issues that this publication has documented are:the general disregard for the rights of Mayan peasant communities and individuals, the entrenched and socially-approved domestic violence suffered by women, and the homophobia promoted by the State and the church.
El Varejón offers editorials, documents abuses and injustices, provides human rights 'first-aid' advice, and makes reports and news available to an ever-expanding community of advocates. People can subscribe to the publication individually or as part of a community or organisation. The cost of the subscription is symbolic (around $1.00 or 50p for 10 issues); the team supports the printing and distribution of the bulletin through fund-raising and donations.
When El Varejón started in 1999 it was basically distributed among a small community of activists and NGOs concentrated around the metropolitan area of Mérida. With time, the publication has grown in influence and is now one of the main sources of information and analysis about human rights in the Peninsula. The team has supported other NGOs by providing human rights courses in different parts of the region and its bulletin has been adopted by other educational groups and initiatives. El Varejón continues to be distributed by regular mail but it has also been digitalised and published on the internet. With this latter strategy the team has increased the number of people they are able to reach and educate on human rights from the perspective of Indigenous communities, gay activists and women.
For more information (in Spanish), see indignacion.org.mx