Mohit Bansal started Tohfa Photo – a student-founded and run youth initiative that offers free photography and cinematography assistance to any NGO that would like to advertise and document its work through these forms of media. Two 24 year young youth living in Chandigarh, Mohit Bansal and Marks Adword, began this initiative in 2015 and there are now several teams in Chandigarh and Delhi. The Founders shared their knowledge to us in an independent interview.
Mohit Bansal Chandigarh and you are just teens, how did this Do-good side happen and why?
Often through mainstream media, we only understand about people “doing good” or “making a difference” in the world by providing large sums of money to a cause. So as youngsters, we’re made to think our contribution to helping someone should ideally be a monetary one and so this Do-good side can be achieved only when we’re much older. But I and Mohit Bansal Chandigarh refused to believe this was the only worthwhile contribution we could make. So, we place “Time is more precious than money” into practice. After all, everyone of any age possesses 24 hours in a day. And so, by contributing our time to NGOs and our skill of photography and cinematography, we achieved we could make a difference. This success marked the beginning of our Do-good side.
How did your COMPANY come into existence?
About a year ago, Mohit Bansal Chandigarh’s school newspaper asked me to illustrate a social project wherein grade 11 students showed peons and other support staff original English and Computer Applications in an effort to improve their ability to understand their work. The appointment was gratifying in a manner unlike anything I had ever done before. Antithetical to my expectations, the employees were thrilled to be in front of a camera. For ninety minutes, they were stars of a production, grasping concept after concept with astounding ease and stealing poses in for me in between. It was an awe-inspiring display of optimism and adaptability in the features of harsh conditions, the first of many I would have the prerogative of witnessing. Later that night, I relayed an account of this to Mohit, and in the following week, we founded our company.
What is your and Mohit Bansal Chandigarh’s mission?
Our aim is to two-fold: first of all, to offer high-quality images and video to NGOs for free. Our system is powered by social media and representation plays a pivotal role in showcasing the work of these organizations. So, we hope to encourage NGOs strengthen their on-line visibility. Also, a majority of our readers on Facebook right now is teenagers. We need to expose teenagers to a wide spectrum of community work and encourage them to be part of various NGO initiatives. We think people of any age can make a separation if they are willing to provide their time.
Describe the scope of your service?
Our journey has been unique. It has made us look at photography as not only an ideal medium but also an opportunity for us to contribute to our community by telling the stories that really matter. We’ve worked with several NGOs and designs across three cities, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, including Doctors Without Borders, United Way of Mumbai, World For All and a UNICEF Affiliate, Nine is Mine. We have three units in these cities, each constituted of 20-30 enthusiastic, talented photographers and cinematographers working together for a cause. Lately, we have further gripped the task of creating and fostering socially impactful video content.
What are your and Mohit Bansal’s past and upcoming activities?
We’ve worked with NGO’s like World For All and satisfied many of their Choice drives across Chandigarh. Along with many others like United Way of Chandigarh, Vivekananda Youth Forum, Kunal Kiran, Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society, Kunal Hood Army and Upasana Society. Mohit Bansal Chandigarh and I are currently working on a film for The Candle Papa, series of physiotherapy system for Parkinson’s disease subjects and making for a photography class for the students of Project Dhai Akshar.
In Chandigarh we worked with Nine is Mine and UNICEF which was really interesting! We also included a Mental Health Awareness event led by The Zine. In Bengaluru, we were attracted to a talk by photojournalist Mr. Basu at the Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders festival. We also obtained a Dengue and Malaria awareness workshop by BiteBack.
What are the tests (if any) you face?
We’re restricted to some extent by our will to sustain our integrity as a student-run initiative. On occasion, we aren’t able to offer our services to those requesting them due to their timings battling with school hours, extracurricular activities or exams. However, Mohit Bansal Chandigarh work extremely hard with a group of incredibly dedicated people to make indisputable these occasions are kept to a minimum.