Tag Archives: art therapy

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‘Freedom to Dream’ @ Aadharshila Home

“I want to complete my education and become a big man one day” – Participant, Aadharshila Home

“I have always wanted to help people and with my work, I’ve managed to fulfill that dream” – Member, Child Welfare Committee

Be it the young, or the younger, everyone dreams. Our dreams connect us to our innocence and light, that makes us one with our being.

The Foundation, on August 25, 2017, conducted a Capacity Building workshop at the Delhi Judicial Academy for members of Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board and organisations that work in the sphere of Juvenile Law. A small and engaging performance by the boys from the Adharshila Observation Home titled ‘Khwaabon ke Par’, was followed by an Art activity that engaged all stakeholders on one platform and share their dreams with each other.
A magical afternoon turned surreal because of the interactions that helped everyone understand and empathize with one another. It also promised to bring back the same innocence within all participants that helped them remember their lifelong dreams and aspirations. As our country completes 70 glorious years of its independence, we hope to continue our work with ‘Youth at Risk’ and find ways to connect the young ones with their light, their humility and their passion.
We would thanGauri Saxena, Mona Sharma and Pankaj Gupta for making this event possible.  We would also like to thank our guest facilitators Bani MalhotraTavishi Krishna and Ankita Dasgupta for their contribution towards the workshops!
Picture Credits- Aarushi
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Staging a Miracle

We just wrapped up our two-week Intensive Expressive Arts Workshops at Aadharshila Home for ‘Juveniles in Conflict With Law’, Kingsway Camp. The play that emerged out of these workshops, ‘Aadharshila mein ek din- A day in Aadharshila‘  was performed for the members of Delhi Judicial Academy, Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committee.

Organised by Delhi Judicial Academy, this presentation was showcased at a seminar on ‘Capacity Building for Other Stakeholders’ and our theme was ‘Understanding Childhood- Dreams, Delinquency and Destitution‘.

This truly was an unforgettable experience for us as well as the boys, who got a chance to perform on stage and share their dreams with the audience present.

Click on the link below to access the Report-

Aadharshila Expressive Arts Workshop Report

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Director’s Note

“Didi (sister), will you bring me a Tulsi (basil) plant on your next visit? The Tulsi is sacred; I will put it in my mandir (temple).”

This is the summer of 2009. We are at the Observation Home for Boys at Kingsway Camp, Delhi, surrounded by 25 juvenile offenders who have come to attend my Remedial Drama workshop. We are discussing dreams and aspirations and as the boys share their stories, Rahul asks me for a basil plant.

Robbery, Murder, Rape, Extortion – their crimes are brutal.                Each boy feels falsely implicated, believes that the system is working against him. Most come from dysfunctional families, have no Role Models, no Heroes who can inspire them to find a way out of the horrific entanglement of drugs, alcohol and crime.

Our challenge is to make them aware of their choices in every situation, choices that will empower rather than debilitate them. We begin using the tools of Theatre and Expressive Arts and every few months a new intervention convinces me of the possibilities of a new start to these young lives.

This is the space from where our play “Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein” is born. Questioning the ever-widening chasm between the marginalized and the privileged, demanding accountability from a society that aspires more for Mercs and Mobiles rather than a qualitative education for all.

We have begun to work at a resettlement slum close by where many juveniles live and as I try to understand complex migration issues, I sometimes falter, grow weary. And then I remember my first conversation with Rahul, seven years ago.

“Rahul, tell me then, where does your God reside?”                                           “In the temple that is within my heart!” he answers.                                       “And when you pick up a knife to kill, where does your God go?” I ask. “Didi, the doors of my temple were open long before and my God has left me. I am still waiting for him to return!”

The Banyan is a healing tree, with a loving, protective aura that embraces all with its grace.  Our play attempts to re-create this magical, expansive space in which everyone is welcome.

- Puneeta Roy, Managing Trustee – The Yuva Ekta Foundation, is Writer and Director for the play- ‘Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein- In the shade of the Banyan’ which will be travelling to Glasgow, Scotland in early October as part of National Theatre of Scotland’s project HOME AWAY.

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Experiences with Papier Theatre

My introduction to Papier Theatre – and how I Survived!

Raju, Matia, Sonu… unforgettable characters spring forth from the pages of Shyamal Kumar Pramanik’s short story “Survival”, to share their gnawing hunger and degrading struggle to survive. Not an unfamiliar “Dalit” story. Yet they come home with me every night.

I have signed up for a Papier Theatre workshop for 3 weeks mid March, not actually being a puppeteer! From making documentaries, corporate films and Television programs for 20 years, I had gone back to my first love Theatre and was enjoying exploring its power as a tool to communicate and empower. At the core of it all was the consuming fire of storytelling, and as I realized, the greater the skill of the teller, the more magical the story.

“Alain Lecucq and Nargis Majd are Master Puppeteers, who will be focusing on the dramaturgy of the story, on the “What”, “Why” and “to Whom” you want to communicate with. You would enjoy it”. Anurupa’s words have me hooked!

I send in my application, get an acceptance and for the next 3 weeks, starting 14th March, I jump into my car at 8am and zip down the highway from Gurgaon, to make it on time for the 9:30 workshops at the Crafts Museum. This means no morning walks or exercise but such is my enthusiasm, that everything else is put on hold for 3 weeks. Of course I will pay the price of excruciating cervical pain once we go back to our “normal” lives, but I am so much richer for the experience!

It is an enchanting 3 weeks of stepping into a fairy tale world of make believe and watching it come alive! Starting with making simple paper stages and stories from personal experiences, we are exposed to some mind boggling videos of shows that Alain has done as well some of the most creative and innovative ones from across the world. I remember crawling back to the workshop space feeling most disheartened and almost embarrassed about what we had presented on the first day. The Bar of Excellence has suddenly gone so high, we have not even made our first baby steps!

Alain and Nargis are amazing as they alternate between being teachers, parents, guides and friends, adding to the warm bonhomie that has developed within the group. Starting with 11 participants, 9 of us complete the course, exploring 4 different stories through completely different formats.

My team mate Binitesh and me choose to work on Pramanik’s story “Survival”and spend the first few days diving deep into the themes and sub themes that the story opens up for us. Out of the 5 to 6 strands that seem to flow through the story, we have to crystallise our thoughts to choose one Central idea that will be our touchstone for all the creatives thereafter.

Wading through the complexities the story throws up for each one of us, we struggle to define that simple connecting thread, little realizing how important this will be, in keeping our entire presentation true to our central theme.

As I put pencil to paper and start allowing the story to flow into the storyboard, it comes alive in a way I have not experienced before – so simply and so quickly. I am Raju, fighting against the bitter cold, to feed and protect my wife and son – Matia and Sonu. It is my mother who has died an excruciating death while my father watches helpless in the famine, and I am determined this will not be the fate of my child.

Bini and me discuss, argue, agree, work together, reflect individually, share our thoughts and arrive at a consensus most times. It is fascinating to see a baby being crafted by two completely different individuals, drawn to a common theme, and to see it evolve from paper sketches into human characters as we draw and colour and fix them to cardboard sliders with “spines” glued to their backs.

Our little wooden stage is built by a carpenter simultaneously and as backdrop after backdrop slides into its slot on our stage, the characters or “paper puppets” glide on to share their tale of desperation and sheer grit to stay alive. At our final presentation at the India International Center, we add the magic of sound effects and focussed lighting and I am told that the effect is quite mesmerising. “Where would we be taking this show from here” is a question I am asked by many members of the audience.

Yes, where indeed would I be taking the show? Bini has gone back to Mumbai to teaching at his Film Institute, but I do have Raju and Matia and Sonu with me, who sit in my office room and look at me questioningly everyday! I owe it to them, to Alain and Nargis, to Ranjana and Anurupa, to our wonderful group who worked together and to Bini and me, to keep them alive and introduce them to all those out there who want to receive them.

Ah, the forest beckons and I promise we shall all walk through it again – soon!

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Puneeta Roy is Managing Trustee at the Yuva Ekta Foundation

 

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Community Theatre Workshops in Jahangir Puri

The Yuva Ekta Foundation conducted a 2 week-long theatre workshop with students of Govt. Co Ed. Senior Secondary School, K Block, Jahangir Puri. These workshops were conducted in the month of May, and mark the beginning of the second phase of our Community Outreach Project in the area. The Foundation has been trying to build a community base since July 2015, and these workshops were a marvellous experience.

We worked with 80 students from school in 2 batches for girls and boys separately. The workshops culminated in 2 distinct interactive performances that covered everyday issues in Jahangir Puri and their link with larger socio-economic problems. These performances were then showcased to the parents of the participants on 28th May, 2016. What followed was an intense discussion on relevant community issues which were portrayed and discussed through the use of Playback Theatre, by facilitators from The Foundation.

We would like to thank The Directorate of Education for granting us permission to conduct these workshops. We would also like to thank the school staff for helping us throughout this project.

We are on-course to build a network of community members. A pilot project that started with a group of 25 women, now includes more than 200 families.

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FINDING ME: Youth Outreach Workshops @ JLF 2016, 15th – 25th Jan 2016.

On a cold wintry morning of Makar Sankrant, as the city of Jaipur woke up to a Festival of Kite flying, 47 young people made their way to a basement in Jayshree Periwal High School, to begin a journey that explored their sense of Identity and Self Esteem over the next 10 days.

For the 8th consecutive year, The Yuva Ekta Foundation in association with Teamwork Arts, took forward its program on Social Justice and Equity, integrating rural youth in Rajasthan with their more privileged urban counter parts, through a six day theater workshop on the theme ‘Finding Me ‘ – a search for identity, a search for self.

The workshops began on January 15th at Jayshree Periwal High School, where a bunch of 47 vibrant teenagers interacted with each other for the first time.                                                                                                            The participants came from places in Rajasthan as far off as Lakshmangarh, Abu Road, Kumbhalgarh and homes on the outskirts of Jaipur, to share space, energy and experiences with privileged young people from prestigious public and IB schools in Jaipur.

Some had left their villages for the first time and were wide eyed in a big city like Jaipur. Pooja Kumari, Nisha, Reena and Raveena from Doosra Dashak on Abu Road were elated that they did not have to walk miles to fill water before they left for school and were now soaking in stories they would take back home to share!

For Barkha, Devesh, Sai, Radhika and Simran, students of Jayshree Periwal High School, this was a slice of life jumping straight out of their geography books! Well heeled and well travelled, it was a reality check for them to come to terms with the fact that despite all the technological advancements they are familiar with in our metropolitan cities, there are still large chunks of our country where inequity and social injustice are rampant.

What followed was 6 days of exploration and expansion where, with brutal honesty, we explored issues of peer pressure, bullying, body image and all forms of discrimination. The focus was on according dignity and respect to the ‘other’, no matter how different they are from you.

The sharing between the young participants went beyond names and addresses, into dreams and aspirations, the similarities surprising those present, that despite such diverse backgrounds, they were so tuned into each other. Each one was encouraged to speak and to share without fear. What evolved was an interactive performance- ‘Finding Me- Meri Pehchaan’.

Our performances started on 21st January at SJ Public School and before we knew it, we’d covered over 8 schools in all – Seedling Public School, Rukmani Birla Modern High School, Sadhu Vasvani Public School, DAV Sr. Sec. Public School, Gyan Vihar Public School, Jayshree Periwal High School and MGD Girls’ School.

The audience response was instant, painfully honest. Students broke down, expressed their fears, accepted their mistakes, apologized for bullying others publically and wrote to us expressing their gratitude and humility.

On 24th January, ‘Finding Me’ was performed in Bandhali Dhani, Khonagoria Gaon District Community Grounds. Moving from schools into a community felt like a seamless transition, marking a learning curve in this journey. Our interaction with this audience, primarily a conservative Muslim community, was a little more special, a bit more intimate. Hesitant at first, young people and parents from the community shared their feelings with us about the need to bring about change in their lives and surroundings, by being more progressive in their outlook.

On 25th January, after performing in 9 Schools and 1 community, the play was presented at the prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival Grounds. It was invigorating for the participants to perform in front of an eclectic mix of people from different cultures, different backgrounds. The audience enthusiasm reinforced the universality of the issues that the play presented.

‘Finding Me’ has been finding places where it has been leaving its mark. Through our Outreach we have interacted with more than 2500 individuals, including school students, teachers, community members and JLF visitors. Responses to our workshop and performances continue to reach us.

Participating Schools:

  1. Jayshree Periwal High School
  2. Jayshree Periwal International School
  3. Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School
  4. Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya
  5. Rukmini Birla Modern High School

Participating NGOs:

  1. Digantar, Jaipur
  2. Doosra Dashak, Lakshmangarh & Alwar
  3. Jan Chetna Sansthan, Abu Road
  4. Buniyad Sansthan, Kumbhalgarh
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Theater and Art Workshop at Aadharshila Juvenile Remand Home

In December 2015, the Yuva Ekta Foundation in association with Action Aid facilitated a week- long theater workshop at the Aadharshila observation home for boys. Working with a core group of 40 juveniles, we sought to evoke a sense of dignity and self respect in the boys we were working with, even as we created an opportunity for them to share their stories, so that they could step back and reflect on why they slipped into crime, and henceforth make responsible choices.

We started our workshops with ice-breaking workshops, wherein we connected with the boys using a variety of Theater Games and Physical/Vocal Warm-ups. With the help of activities like ‘Mirror Exercise’, we focused on forming connections within the boys using eye contact.

Once we had established a comfort level with the boys, we used Art and Creative Writing to share their stories and important people in their circles of influence, including their friends, families and society at large.

Our one-week project  culminated in a small performance for all inmates at the home, Honorable Justice Rajiv Shakdher, JJB Magistrate Mr. Vishal Singh, Ms. Sehjo Singh from Action Aid, representatives from CII Foundation, TDH and Delhi Legal service Authority.

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Community Theatre Workshops

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.

 

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Theater and Dance workshops at Aadharshila Home

The Yuva Ekta Foundation facilitated Expressive Arts based workshops with the Juveniles at the Adharshila Observation Home for boys in Kingsway Camp. The boys underwent a 15-days long intensive THEATRE and DANCE workshops, exploring their dreams and aspirations, and to understand better the circumstances these boys come from and the role and responsibility of society in shaping them.

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Volunteer Diaries

ThreadsofHumanity_logoBridging the Gap

Sanya is a Masters student who has been volunteering with us for a month. Her feedback from her first session at SPYM Sahyog de addcition home.

Entering the gates of Sahyog campus triggered a series of emotions in me. Was it anxiety or fear or anger or compassion or curiosity, I don’t know! I entered the campus with an empty mind. I tried not to have any presumed notions about these juvenile offenders. The term ‘juvenile’ is used for person below the age of 18, accused in any crime. Having worked with children before, I believe these children were a little different. However, they were and they did behave like any other child of their age group would have.

Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory suggests that personality is mostly established by the age of five. Early experiences play a large role in personality development and continue to influence behaviour later in life. If these psychosexual stages are completed successfully, the result is a healthy personality. If certain issues are not resolved at the appropriate stage, fixation can occur. Perhaps, this issue makes them different from other children. Dysfunctional family, certain incidents, addiction, poverty, illiteracy, lack of guidance affects them.

Consequently, I was there to grasp and learn all I could, therefore I did not want to talk or do anything. I did not want to interrupt their activities. I just wanted to observe. Observe their actions, reactions.

I was amazed to learn how they had perceived of me as their ‘female’ volunteer, my clothes and my gestures. I was shot at with vulgar comments momentarily. They excelled at playing and twisting my words, so as to change its meaning completely. To their surprise, I was good at dodging them. With my presence, I was determined to bridge the gap. Their constant gaze at me confirmed the urgency of the same. We shook hands, talked, and laughed.

We started with the workshop, with over 30 boys. We worked on painting and decorating matchboxes.

I was happy to see the positive reaction towards the workshop. I took as a sign of acceptance. There were moments of vexation. However, my aim was to read into their minds, rather than sit back out of disappointment. Matchbox was just a medium. Whether they painted it or not, didn’t really matter. Small dusty hands, with chewed nails, scribbling black and white stripes, and then painted it all black, when almost a beautiful unpredictable design was going to come out. Some chose to keep quiet and observe, while some found it impossible to be quiet. I was amused to overhear a myriad of comments.

It was perhaps because of lack of interaction with the other sex. Their curiosity about the other sex is incomplete. Coming from dysfunctional families, the very idea of one’s mother, sister or a friend was still hazy. Most of them come from backgrounds where a casual friendly relation with the opposite sex is stigmatized. There was a tendency in them to emulate all ”film stars” and bollywood actors.

Bruise and cuts on their wrists and arms were enough for me to understand their extent of extreme feelings.

With my presence, I hope to abridge the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’. They are disheartened and some have lost hope of coming back on track. I don’t want to be an idealist to them, but just wish to expose them to the normalcy of life, be it towards women, elders or law. Their expression in the form of art can be our path into their minds.

- Sanya