We have been working at the Juvenile Observation Homes in the Sewa Kutir Complex, Kingsway Camp, for 6 years now. Through a number of Theatre and Art workshops we have broken ground with several young inmates, empathised with their heart breaking stories and hoped that the seeds being sown would bear fruit soon, hopefully guiding them towards a more meaningful future.
However we realised that our time with them at the home is too short – barely a month before they are released on bail. What is to be done for a long term impact?
We have to go to the Source – to their homes and work with their families. We begin to find ways to penetrate into this community. It took over 3 months of networking, of following different leads, some which end up as dead ends! But slowly, we start making our connections. We focussed on the women, the mothers of the boys we have worked with in the Observation Home. Regular visits to their houses to explain our intent, started building trust and bit by bit, the pieces started falling into place.
The workshops were held in a small hall in a boisterous government school as the women respond and turned up out of curiosity. Some brought their daughters and together we pushed boundaries as the community space grew into one of warmth and laughter!
The workshops were a delightful experience of sharing stories and lightening their burden as we introduced them to basic concepts of theatre and role play!
Day 1: Ice breaking, introductions. Getting to know each other’s names and backgrounds and speaking about the issues they deal with everyday in Jahangirpuri
Day 2: Art and writing, starting with their names and symbols of things they like, to introduce themselves in a deeper manner. Then we broke into a group of women talking about their childhood and the difference they feel in themselves today. The children’s group drew and spoke about the images of the ‘Jahagirpuri of their Dreams”
Day 3: We started with some movement work, loosening up and connecting with each other deeper. The mirror exercise, connecting with finger tips and back supporting exercise were very intense experiences for the women, one of them even broke down on receiving such unconditional love and warmth. Then each group did a role play on scenes they see inside their homes.
Day 4: We worked more on movement through a dance exercise, which continued into a story telling exercise. We then created role plays in groups- the women worked on expressing anger and issues of substance abuse as a theme and the children chose socially relevant issues like cleanliness and violence against women.
Day 5: Being the last day, we worked more on physical movement through another dance exercise and did a waste recycling workshop using newspapers to make pens. We wrapped up with a creative visualisation and feedback session, vowing to meet again in the near future. They took back the pens as a souvenir from the workshops.
These past few days have been quite a revelation and we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg as we have just begun to connect with these amazing women and their children! It is almost difficult to believe that such a workshop was possible in Jahangir Puri, the very same resettlement colony that always seemed so fraught with tension and fear. We intend to take forward this work that we have begun in Jahangir Puri over the past few months.