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Local Challenges, Global Solutions

I come from North east India– a cluster of 7 hill states bordering China, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh on 3 sides and mainland India on the other. Underdeveloped and largely inaccessible, this region is home to over a hundred tribes speaking over 800 languages, following 6 religions and are united by a single political sentiment: a strong anti-India stance.

There are dozens of armed separatist groups in the North east. Besides fighting the governments, they are also fighting each other over ‘homeland’ territories, control of the economy and a thriving drug trade.

It is against this backdrop that I report and it’s like playing with fire; whatever I write, may please one militant group and annoy another. Besides, there is the fear of the army linking me with a militant group and putting behind the bar.

I have been already kidnapped once, by a group of arms suppliers to a militant outfit. Luckily, I managed to break a window of the room they had locked me in and escape.

This is a challenge that has no quick- fix solution. So, I try to be careful: never travel without my mobile phone or my pocket size video camera, build a wide network of friends and, avoid being political as far as possible.

My second challenge is something that any development and environment journalist faces in a developing country: lack of space.

For years, I worked as a staff reporter and each day, it was a struggle. Sometimes, I was denied equipment (“live event, all cameras are busy”), sometimes, I faced straight rejection (“our readers won’t read this”) and, other times, neglect (“we did a similar story once already”). This summer I found a solution to this nagging challenge: work independently.

The challenge before me now is the proverbial daily struggle for ‘roti’, ‘kapda’ and ‘makan’ (bread, cloth and home).

My solution is a medley of actions: Research on issue-based media, pitch story ideas to the editors and develop a network of takers. Also, be more active on social media, be more regular with my personal blog (http://stellasmusings.blogspot.com) and Pulsewire, and write in the most popular citizens’ journalism sites. Of late, I have also started searching for journalism fellowships.

And this is how I have just got the biggest break of my life: win a contest to cover the forthcoming UN Climate Summit in Durban. I found the information online, applied and now, will be the first reporter from the North east - home to thousands of climate refugees – to cover the biggest exercise in fighting climate change.

I believe, becoming a VOF will help me get new writing assignments, expand my audience’s base, enable me to channelize my energy into telling more stories instead of hunting opportunities. Above all, it will help me tackle my biggest challenge ever:continue my journey towards the risky, but the urgent goal of making marginalized voices heard.

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Comments

usha kc's picture

Stella your every s!tory are

Stella your every s!tory are so powerful dear. wonder!!!! you were kidnapped!!!!! my god !! thanx god you made yourself to escape from that situation.

I am really proud to be connected with you dear.

llove you!!

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you angel

Dear Sister
Now, I wait eagerly to see you online and connect to you. Because you are so encouraging! Yes, I was kidnapped, 5 years ago, I spent only a few hours,but it was so scary.I thought my life was going to end there, just like that.

Anyway, I survived again. And now I am here, with such wonderful friends and sisters.
Thank you for reading and I sent you a message.Please check your inbox dear.

Love and hugs

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

usha kc's picture

Sure I will check.

Sure I will check.

hummm ,,can not wait more to catch your msg,,,

gabimucatta's picture

Hats off to you

Dear Stella

2 years ago I wanted to visit India. I tried to visit Assam, but was denied a visa. I was told that foreigners are not allowed to visit North east.It was very difficult for me to accept that and I didn't know the reasons behind such restrictions.(I had only heard about Kashmir which is a conflict area). Today, after reading your story, I can grasp everything. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to work there and I admire your exemplary courage and conviction dear. Hats off to you!

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you

Thank you Gabrmucatta for this lovely message! Yes, almost entire north east is off limit for foreign tourists - a fact few know. Its also more dangerous and far more complex, though people don't know it.One reason is that it is very difficult to travel through this region.

But its also a very beautiful and culturally rich region.
I hope you can visit it someday.

Thanks

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Adepeju's picture

What i like most is your

What i like most is your determination! Passing through fire and remaining strong, drowning in the sea and keeping your smile :-) Thumbs up to you girl! You get an e-hug for that!!

Stella Paul's picture

Worth a hundred awards

You know, sometimes I look at my old media colleagues - now happily 'settled', content with life with little insecurity. And then I look at myself and for a moment, I feel tempted to be filled with self pity and embarrassment.

And comes this hug and I start smiling again :) That hug is worth all that goodies I missed out on!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

amiesissoho's picture

Sounds familiar

"Sometimes, I was denied equipment (“live event, all cameras are busy”)," but they can't stop us!

Amie

Stella Paul's picture

We are unstoppable

Yes my dear, momentary halts can never bring the curtains down on a show. Our show will go on. Thanks!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

MaDube's picture

Bravery unparalleled

You are one brave woman and I can see nothing will stop you from getting your voice to be heard. Great work SteIla. I believe this is your chance to ensure that voice finds plenty of room in the global space, in such proportions it will never be shut again. All the best with that :-)

Stella Paul's picture

Being silly

I am really not used to hearing good, sweet things and now when you send me them, I feel like an idiot. Half of me wants to cry and the other half feels shy. While I take my time which way to behave :), let me give you a hug for being so nice and so encouraging!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Celine's picture

Brave!!

You are really a brave woman Stella. Keep voicing out. The world is hearing.

Celine

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you Celine!

Dear Celine

You are such a lifter of sagging spirits! God bless you too and tons of wishes for you and your mission as well.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

smritikhanam's picture

Be safe

I can imagine the risk that you have to take for your work. You are so brave. But I hope you will be safe.

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you

Thank you Smriti

Staying safe is really a challenge. I once wrote an article against constant call of bandh (strike) by a group and how it affects poor people's lives. Next day I received threatening messages, emails and what not. So,even web 2.0 can't ensure full safety. However, I am not going to give up. Thanks for your concern!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Maria Jabeen's picture

Keep Inspiring

dear stella i can imagine how it has been on you as i also used to see all this stuff here in pakistan also but the way you came up to the front is what matters and commendable :-)

Diversity is our Strength towards Peace & Harmony :-)

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you Maria

Dear Maria

Because we have suffered the same way, we can unite easily.That,for me,is a very positive factor. And together now we will go far, doing good.

Thanks so much!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Maggs's picture

No wavering

I do wonder if I could be so brave and I like the way you have stayed on course towards your vision despite the danger. keep chipping away.

maggs

Stella Paul's picture

Courtesy a tough childhood

Dear Maggs

Thank you so much for the encouragement. Maybe because life had always been so tough with me, I have resigned to the fact that even the simplest of the things will come to me only after a struggle and so I must struggle on. Though it is frustrating at time, it also is my core source of strength.

Thanks again!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Sahro's picture

I enjoyed reading your

I enjoyed reading your story!!!!

It radiates confidence, compassion and strength. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I am sure you are a poet.

Peace and love from Somalia ♥♥

WorldPulse Community Advisory Board Member
Globcal Ambassador at: https://www.facebook.com/301986015692/photos/a.10150304573125693.561701....
Founder

Stella Paul's picture

Peace and love from India

Dear Sahro

That is a great compliment! I used to be a poet in school, but life became tougher and I lost all love for poetry.Its only after joining World Pulse that I am occasionally playing with poetry again. I can't thank you enough for sending such a lovely message. Much peace and love from India. Have a great day there!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Stella:

Congratulations on winning the contest to be a reporter at the UN Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa! I am so delighted that a person who lives in a situation that is experiencing so much climate change will be able to inform the rest of us about events. It makes such a difference when reporters approach their task from a basis of informed local knowledge, and I know you will do so. I was very moved by your story, and inspired by your determination - thank you for sharing it with us

Kindest regards,
Rosemary

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks and Peace!

Dear Rosemary

First of all, happy Peace day! So happy to know a peace crusader like you -someone the world needs now more than ever!

Now, about my chance to be at Durban, thanks so much for your wishes. I actually am elated. Its truly a dream coming true. The official announcement on this is yet to be made, hence I didn't name the organization. But I am grateful to them choosing me - a freelancer - over hundreds of others from big media houses. I am grateful that they decided to give a representative of a directly affected community a chance to witness the combat exercise. t won't be easy - as I will have to break down the super complex,jargon filled language of the proceedings into reports that are graspable at the hyperlocal level. But its a challenge I know I can take.

Thanks again, for the beautiful message. I am going to check out your site pretty soon.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Stella, You know I

Dear Stella,

You know I recently ran into such problems , my first. It's so disgusting and revolting but we have to carry on and find a way to tell our stories.

Love

Nusrat

Stella Paul's picture

Yes of course

Dear Nusrat

I am not surprised! After all, your situation is no better than mine. But carry on we must. It may take long to bring even a tiny change by our solo effort, but if we don't try, even that tiny change may never come.

Thanks so much for the support. Love to you too

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

gingerhooper's picture

Congratulations

Congratulations on winning the contest to be a reporter at the UN Climate Summit in Durban, what a wonderful opportunity and one that it sounds like you deserve very much! Fabulous! Climate change will sadly continue to be the cause of many more people having to flee their homes through no real fault of their own. We need to do what we can to support those people getting rights. For some more helpful info (you may have found this link already....) check out http://www.ejfoundation.org/page578.html where there are links to lots of information.
Keep up the good work and keep safe

Laura
'See the world with new eyes'

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you Laura

Dear Laura

Thank you tons for this message. 4 Years back I decided to return to school, study Environmental Law because I wanted to step into environmental journalism and the course, according to me, was necessary to understand the issues better. After the course was over, I decided to leave media for a while and work for Greenpeace. I was ridiculed over this and what's more, everyone said that returning to media would be nearly impossible once I worked for such a radical org. To some extent, that came true as I have faced many rejections.

So, winning this fellowship (thats what it really is) is like a dying person being given a bottle of oxygen. I do plan to use every whiff of it in the best possible way. Thanks for the link - the more I learn, the more I grow. So there is no end to learning in life.

Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

loyce's picture

You have lived it all

Stella, you have lived it all my sister and you have overcomed! You are a young woman full of energy and enthusiasm and the sky will be the limit.
Loyce

Follow me on twitter:@livelyloyce
My blog:www.loycek.wordpress.com

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you my sister

Thanks so much.But you know what?Life for a woman, especially in a developing country is like an endless race of hurdles. The moment you cross one, there is another right in front of you. But having crossed one hurdle, I have more strength now to do more. And then there is all this support coming from you friends.This is like a blessing!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Duda's picture

Dear Stella,

Congratulations on winning the contest. I admire you. With the next sentence I want to ecourage you to not stop:

I accepted the fear as part of my life, above all the fear of change... I walk ahead, although my heart beats and says :”Come back” (words by Erica Jong)

Best wishes,
Dubravka

Stella Paul's picture

SO beautiful!

What a beautiful line that is. Yes, there is often a temptation (especially when I see my ex colleagues, friends and relatives living a life of prosperity, safely away from all contention and conflict) to stop, but fortunately every time I meet someone who is doing more struggle than me (like my sisters and colleagues here in World Pulse) and then I feel encouraged to go on again. Thank you Dubravka!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

faridaY's picture

Well Written

You articulate yourself very well Stella and really get to the heart of the matter. I enjoyed reading your piece. Your passion and determined spirit are inspiring. Well done.

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you Farida

Thank you so much dear Farida! I would say the same about you, and not because of formality, but because I really felt that way when I read your post. Let us keep writing and sharing!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Carlotta's picture

I'm speechless! You are one

I'm speechless! You are one brave woman to us and a pain in the butt to some :)). You talk about trying not to be political, but everything is political especially when you are dealing with such a diversified society. I am really inspired and wish you all the protection and success you can get when you go about your daily duties. And congrats on the opportunity you got to come to Durban, wish it were Johannesburg so we could meet.

Stella Paul's picture

I like that

You know what? I really like the idea of being a pain in the butt! I think that's a great goal to set :)

Jokes apart, I thank you so much for all the wishes. There are many,many women who are braving it all just the way I am. But they are not educated or resourceful enough to tell it to the global community. I am trying to lend a humble hand and bring those stories out. There is so much to do!!! I think even when I am 100, I will not be done telling even half of those stories :)

But with such support, I can at least go on till 100 :)

Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Rita Raj's picture

Congratulations !

Great that your persistence and tenacity got you the Durban climate change assignment. makan, roti keeps stretching you to consider possibilities. Best Wishes.

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks dear

Thank you my friend for your kind words. Very encouraging!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Beejay's picture

Guts and more guts

Who says you can't go places? You see why you are so fulfilled? The inner strength and doggedness drives your passion. Truly, you are a trailblazer girl. Infact, the dinosaur.. keep up the good work dear. You ain't see nothing yet. So proud of you
Winkssss

Beejay Fabamise, Nigeria

Stella Paul's picture

Dinosaur, yes!

Oh Beejay

I love that expression 'dinosaur'! Makes me feel special :) We all are a rare breed of reptiles, trying to return and reclaim our territory. Thanks a bunch.
On a more serious note, feel proud of yourself too, for being such a cheerleader to someone like me who spent many years without any cheer. You are a hero! Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Ify Onyegbule's picture

Breathless

Im just so overwhelmed by your write up, all i can say is be safe and keep the fire burning!

Stella Paul's picture

An untold truth

Can I tell you a secret? Since VOF started, I am rushing to finish my assignment as asap. You know why? So that it gives me a lot of time to read others' stories and comment and bond with them. And in turn, it gives me more strength, more courage to battle on. So, what it means is, I too am overwhelmed and it is purely because of you. Love and hugs!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Osai's picture

Keep up the spirit

Dear Stella,

Your story is inspiring. It also makes us think about the dangers facing women which may have not experienced. Your determination to excel is a great plus. Please keep up the spirit.

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

Stella Paul's picture

Sure!

Dear Osai

So glad you are also on twitter.I am following you. The more we connect,we better it is!
Coming back to my story, I was telling a friend only yesterday that appreciating others isn't a job everyone can do. I have seen many people who always find it hard to praise others. It comes from a deep sense of insecurity. So, whoever can appreciate others has something positive and a lot of courage in her. You are one such woman and I am telling you, you wil warm many hearts, encourage many, like you just did to me.

Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Juliette Maughan's picture

Awesome

Stella you are awesome!

Keep up the good fight and yes... keep it independent and transparent. May you continue to keep up the high standards that you do.

Thank you as well for commenting and challenging my own thought processes.

You will go far!

Stella Paul's picture

The truth

Dear Juliette

The truth is, I fought on because I had no other option. And its only because of beautiful minds like you that are making my fight look a good one :) I am brave, because you perceive it that way. So, first, I thank YOU, for being so kind with your view, your words and your support. Love, always!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

YAOtieno's picture

You go girl!

Hi Stella,

Reading your story is like watching a very exciting movie. It has the angle that makes one to cry and the other side that fills one with jubilation ! I admire your courage and determination through out life.

I smiled a lot when you talked about the excuses you got to deny you a chance to go for an assignment, I can totally identify with you. The newsroom is a very competitive place and discrimination only makes it worse. And yes when you leave join the INGO world, you are considered a sell out!!! But you are still here and you are still writing! Keep it up!
Thats the one thing they cant take from you , your writing talent.

Congratulations on winning the scholarship to Durban and dont get intimidated by the jargon...Here is some material you may find useful ...25tips for climate change journalists http://underthebanyan.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/25-tips-for-climate-chang...

Keep writing,

Y

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

Stella Paul's picture

From the bottom of my heart

Thank you Yao for everything! The website is so nice! (I am always so taken in my simple things - simple thoughts (they are most effective), simple art(like our forefathers did - it reflects purity of heart) and simple way of living. This banyan tree has a very simple look and I got hooked at the first visit!

I am expecting the official announcement to happen any day now and then the 2 months will be useful to draw my plans. On environment, I write for monthly magazines and the organizers expect me to get assignments from daily newspapers. So, there's a lot of pitching in I need to do. Personally, I want to focus on 2 of my favorite issues: transfer of technology ( from the rich to the poor - something that the UN emphasizes, but is happening at snail's pace.) and any developments that can help empower women climate refugees.

So much do! Meanwhile, am happy to be here. Hope to talk to you all, and share a lot,especially on the women climate refugees.

Thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a sweet friend and wishing you a lot of luck with VOF!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

YAOtieno's picture

Thanks

Thanks Stella,

It has been a great pleasure meeting you and reading your pieces. I am looking forward to reading your articles and wishing you the best in VOF too!

Cheers,

Y

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

fr3y's picture

Sign of a winner

Showing courage and tenacity...
you are a winner Stella...

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you!

Thank you so much for these words,coming at an hour when I am battling a bad cold and definitely not feeling very brave :) Thanks for lifting my spirit! Have a wonderful time ahead yourself!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

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