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FINDING a female mechanic is a rare feat, even more so in the male- dominated environment of a trucker's halt point such as the Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar ( SGTN), the largest trucking stop in Asia. Perhaps that's what makes this photo of mechanic and owner of repair shop Shanti Devi an award- winning one. Taken by 19- year- old Manish Gupta, this was one of the six pictures chosen from the 1,700 photos submitted for global photo contest of the World Association for Christian Communication ( WACC). The theme of this particular competition was ' Portraying Gender', and photographers were invited to submit photos portraying women or men in ways that offer new perceptions about their roles and responsibilities.

Manish worked as a helper of a trucker and only learned to use a camera in 2008 when he joined the Centre for Human Progress ( CHP), an organisation that works to improve the lives of people susceptible to HIV infection such as truckers, sex workers, transgenders, homosexuals and drug users. It was CHP director Ash Pachauri's bright idea to involve a group of truckers in a photo- documentation project.

He says the project was just " one small effort being made to strengthen the response and the enabling environment for such communities". Cameras were rented for them and they learned to take pictures that told a story. " We regularly reviewed progress and provided feedback. Besides the technical aspects, they also learned how to take photos that would depict ideas they wanted to convey," explains Pachauri.

Last year, the trucker's photos were exhibited in a well- received show entitled ' Expressions of Empowerment' held at the India Habitat Centre.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Feb 21, 2010
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