Tag Archives: threads of humanity

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Celebrating this Festive Season

As the festive season draws near, The Yuva Ekta Foundation set foot on a new venture. Denave India presented us with an opportunity to display our with Arts at a Diwali Exhibition in their offices. For us, it was more than just a presentation. It was a chance to connect and reach out.

Expressive Arts and Art Therapy is a big part of the rehabilitation process in the spaces we conduct regular interventions. Two of those spaces include the Adharshila Observation Home for Boys (a Juvenile Remand Home in Delhi) and Arushi Girls Home (a Unit of Salaam Balak Trust), a shelter home for street and run-away girls. Techniques of theatre, music, crafts and dance have helped us uncover a latent talent base and many of these young ones are making a name for themselves in the field of art.

As a medium of expression, art is personal and intimate. Stories which remain unperturbed come to the surface, often offering a healing touch.  It is in this vein, we decided to conduct art and painting workshops in the above mentioned spaces. These workshops are a part of our longstanding ‘Threads of Humanity’ Program, an umbrella project that ushers art based interventions with ‘Youth At Risk’.

Bhaiya, hum Kya banaein?” (What do we make?) asked a young juvenile offender Sonu (name changed) as he stared at a piece of blank paper. “Kuch bhi bana le… jo marzi ho” (You can draw whatever you feel like). Just a small trigger and stories start to pour. Circular and rectangular cut-outs intended to be table coasters and bookmarks, became canvases that portrayed intense emotions of loss and hope. Many showed their impeccable skill with colours, drawing beautiful and intricate designs which our audience at Denave associated with.

Apart from coasters and bookmarks, we worked with Origami. The street and run-away girls from Arushi, patiently sat with our guest facilitator Nalini Das, as she carefully moulded simple pieces of origami paper into boxes for lightweight products. With envelopes, greeting cards and up-cycled newspaper pens, we had an inventory of 300 products that were up for grabs.

As the festival of light draws close, Hand Painted Diyas became a sensation. These were painted as part of our newest project called ‘Homecoming’. Our effort in this project is to bring together ‘Youth at Risk’ living under ‘Care and Protection’ to inmates in Old Age Homes. This interaction is facilitated through Expressive Arts.

Each piece was a story that we were proud to narrate. Many purchased items for Diwali, while some contributed to the cause. Each act of giving meant a connection with our intent and it is exactly what we’d hoped for. We further displayed our work at Diwali Exhibitions in Vasant Kunj and Teamwork Arts Pvt. Ltd.

We express our heartfelt gratitude to Denave for giving us this opportunity and a big thank you to those who contributed to the cause. The proceeds collected from these exhibitions will go in facilitating more Expressive Arts Programs at Adharshila and Salaam Balak Trust.

 

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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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Home-Away Diaries

“Only connect!” – E.M. Forster

In times when building walls is being noisily celebrated, art silently labours in creating bridges. It is one of the most satisfying labour one can experience. Theatre being the most hybrid form of expression unearths a world of perspectives and possibilities. It thus has the ability to ignite hope and spirit amongst people, come what may.
My journey with The Yuva Ekta Foundation- working on our play “Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein” (In The Shade of the Banyan) – has helped me grow both as a performer as well as an individual. Reflecting on the entire process of collectively creating this production- from stimulating rounds of auditions, the overwhelming visit to Jahangirpuri (of which the stories we attempt to portray), the number of innovative workshops and the consistent rehearsals- I cannot help but share my absolute delight at being challenged on each step!

One might think of oneself as a performer/ individual of a certain measurable capacity. Then of course there’s the typical “scope for improvement” remark that follows one throughout. But never have I “witnessed” the breaking of limits we set on ourselves like I experienced at The Home Away Festival at The National Theatre of Scotland. Our play totally had a life of its own on the day of the performance! The characters came alive on stage like never before. Was it the energy of the space? The audience? The months of hard work everyone had put in? Yes, yes, and yes. But above all, I think, it was because we all actually believed in the infinity of our potential (both of our play and as individuals) that it became the highlight of the entire journey.

Meeting theatre enthusiasts from across the globe, sharing performances and practices, exploring the breathtaking beauty of landscapes miles and miles away, and bringing back home new friendships and such warm memories is something I will cherish forever.

A big Thank you to our dear director Puneeta Roy, The Yuva Ekta Foundation, Dilip sir and Gilles, Simon Sharkey, The National Theatre of Scotland, and all my fellow cast members of “Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein”.

-Harmanpreet Kaur plays the character ‘Anju’ in the play ‘Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein’ that was showcased at National Theatre of Scotland’s Home Away Festival in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Home-Away Diaries

“बरगद की छांव”, मुझे इस इसकी छाओं में आने का मौका तब मिला जब मैं पहली बार ऑडिशन देने गया,पहले राउंड ऑडिशन के बाद जब मुझे राजन के करैक्टर का ऑडिशन करने के लिए बोला गया तो मैं सोचने लगा की ये कैरेक्टर तो बहोत बेहतरीन है, कई सारे एक्टर्स आये थे ऑडिशन के लिए और मैं इसे करना चाहता था, तो ऑडिशन भी हुआ और मुझे ये करैक्टर करने का मौका भी मिला। फिर 29 जून को हम लोगों को जहांगीर पूरी c ब्लॉक में बुलाया गया ताकि सारे एक्टर्स उस माहौल को समझ पाएं जिस तरह के एरिया की ये कहानी है,और जिस तरह के करैक्टर हम सब करने वाले थे, मुझे इस चीज ने बहोत हेल्प की राजन के करैक्टर को बनाने में। इसी दिन पूरी टीम से मुलाक़ात भी हुई, फिर बरगद की छाओं में की कहानी को जिवंत करने की कोशिश शुरू हुई, और इस प्लेय को बनाते बनाते कुछ अंजान लोग एक परिवार में तब्दील हो गए,और देखते ही देखते 9 सितम्बर यानि वो दिन आ गया जब हमें अपना पहला शो  जुविनाइल होम किंग्सवे कैंप में करना था, यहाँ शो करने का अनुभव बहोत ही बेहतरीन रहा, वहां के बच्चे राजन के कैरेक्टर से ज़्यादा कनेक्ट कर पा रहे थे क्योंकि राजन उनमें से ही एक था, उस दिन राजन को जी कर एक एक्टर के रूप में मुझे बहोत मज़ा आया, राजन के कैरेक्टर को करते हुए मुझे और गहराई से ये समझ आया की कई बार गलत संगत, गलत डिसीजन, और कई बार बिना गलती के भी बच्चों को बहोत बड़ी कीमत चुकानी पड़ती है।

16 सितम्बर को हमने वसंत वैली में शो किया, जो की एक इनडोर ऑडिटोरियम में हुआ यहाँ प्लेय का करने का अनुवभ भी अलग था क्योंकि की यहाँ हमारी ऑडियंस अलग थी ,जगह अलग थी।

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2014 में युवा एकता के साथ ही मैं शून्य से शिखर नाम का प्लेय करने आया था, और 2016 में बरगद की छाओं में।

यहाँ कई सारे ग्रुप्स आये हुए थे उनकी वर्कशॉप अटेंड की और उनके शो देखे, ये जो एक्सपीरिएंस मुझे यहाँ मिला उसको शब्दों में बयान करना मुश्किल है,किसी भी वर्कशॉप में मैं अंजान लोगों से बड़ी आसानी से कनेक्ट हो जाता था जैसे उनको बहोत पहले से जनता हूँ, मेरे ख्याल से ये ही थिएटर का पॉवर है।

9 अक्टूबर जिसका हम सबको बहोत इंतज़ार था वो दिन भी आ ही गया, ये प्लेय इसी दिन के लिए तैयार किया गया था, शो के दौरान मैंने महसूस किया कि सब लोग एक्टिंग नहीं कर रहे थे सब के सब उन किरदारों को जी रहे थे,उस दिन कुछ मैजिक सा हुआ था, सबने बहोत उम्दा काम किया था, शो के बाद लोगो से बात हुई लोग पर्सनली आ कर स्टोरी के बारे में, किरदारों के बारे में, परफॉरमेंस के बारे में बात कर रहे थे, इससे मुझे ये समझ आया की लोग बरगद की छांव में प्लेय से कनेक्ट हो पाए थे, इस बात का क्रेडिट मेरे हिसाब से  सबसे ज़्यादा हमारे शो की डायरेक्टर पुनीता रॉय मैम को जाता है, जिन्होंने इतनी रियल और बेहतरीन स्टोरी लिखी और साथ ही साथ सारे एक्टर्स को पूरा मौका दिया अपने किरदारों के साथ जस्टिस करने का । और फिर क्रेडिड जाता है हमारी पूरी टीम को,जिन्होंने इस शो को बनाने के लिए बहोत मेहनत की।

मुझे भी इस प्लेय के दौरान अपने किरदार राजन को बनाने के लिए बहोत काम करने का मौका मिला,मैं कई दिनों से कुछ ऐसा काम करना चाहता था, मैं ग्लास्गो ट्रिप के दौरान अपनी टीम को और गहराई से जान पाया, मैंने ये भी महसूस किया कि जब आपके आस पास पॉजिटिव लोग होते हैं तो हम भी पॉजिटिव होते चले जाते हैं और हमारा काम भी बेहतर होता चला जाता  है, मेरी तो पूरी टीम ही पॉजिटिव लोगो से भरी हुई है, मैं अपनी पूरी टीम को थैंक यू कहना चाहता हूँ, मैं National Theater Of Scotland को भी थैंक यू कहना चाहता हूँ जिन्होंने इतना प्यारा, इतना शानदार Home Away फेस्टिवल ऑर्गनाइज किया ।

इस ट्रिप के दौरान मैं घुमा भी और नेचर को थोड़ा और जाना भी, नई नई जगह और लोगो को देख कर लगा की दुनिया में बहोत कुछ है एक्स्प्लोर करने को।

ओवरऑल मुझे एक ऐसा एक्सपीरियंस मिला जो मेरे लिए बहोत अनमोल है, ये मुझे हमेशा याद रहेगा, इस शो का हिस्सा बन कर मैं बहोत लकी फील कर रहा ह और आगे हमे और भी शो करने हैं उसके लिए भी मैं उस्सहित हूँ, इसके लिए युवा एकता फाउंडेशन का जितना भी थैंक किया जाये काम होगा।

Thank you The Yuva Ekta Foundation, Puneeta Maam, Dilip Sir, Mrinalini ma’am and Gilles sir for the opportunity

-Pankaj Gupta plays the character of ‘Rajan’ in ‘Bargad ki Chhaon Mein’, the play that was performed in Glasgow, Scotland as part of Home/Away Festival.

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Home-Away Diaries

Working as the Creative Partner between National Theatre of Scotland and Yuva Ekta allowed me the unique position to visit rehearsals and performances of the production. From the early rehearsals I attended it was apparent that the work being created and presented was of a high standard with care being taken not only to find the most appropriate performers but also creative collaborators to tell this important story.

I was lucky to meet the head teachers of the some of the schools who were familiar with Yuva Ekta and their work. They were incredibly excited and supportive of the story being told and the voices being heard within this production. The cast were incredibly sensitive to doing justice to the material and where these stories had generated from. A great deal of the rehearsal process was used to find and play the truth of the situations and were expertly led by Puneeta Roy. A great deal of time and effort was put into creating a quality production that would speak to audience, regardless of language.

Watching the show happen in Vasant Valley School prior to the Glasgow production was incredibly exciting. Hearing the audience applaud, laugh, gasp and finally stunned in silence was a powerful experience. The silence soon turned to excitement as the young audience crowded Puneeta, the director and the cast to ask more questions about the process and the material. For many, this was an introduction to a new understanding of how some people in their city live. The play translated so well as part of the Home/Away festival. The character led and political story brought a slice of New Delhi to Glasgow but drew many comparisons to discussions and social issues relevant worldwide today. The humour and tragedy of the story translated (apparently) effortlessly. The huge amount of work taken out by the cast and creative team produced an exceptional performance showcasing the many talents that where on and off stage.

- Fraser MacLeod is Creative Learning Coordinator, National Theatre of Scotland. Fraser was Creative from NTS who visited us during our Development Process in July and came back for our Home Performance in September.

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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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Bargad Ki Chhaon Mein- Home Performances

What an extraordinary journey it has been for all of us since we embarked on our Bargad project!

It was mid June when our auditions began. Selecting a cast of 13 was a daunting task but we have been fortunate to have assembled a group of actors who connected with our vision for the play, and contributed their energy and love.

Two and a half months of intense rehearsal included visits to the slum re-settlement colony that formed our inspiration for the play. Come September and we were ready to test the waters with home audiences.

9th September. The first port of call was the Juvenile Remand Home in North Delhi, where we began our Expressive Arts work 7 years ago. We were especially keen to see their response since some of the characters in the play were drawn straight from our experiences in the home.

150 young boys from the ages 16 – 18 years along with their welfare officers, the Superintendent of the Home as well as the Principal Magistrate formed our audience.

Their response  was overwhelming. As we opened up the session for feedback and discussion with the boys, they stood up and shared how closely they could identify with the play. They particularly  related to Rajan, one of the characters in the play who is a repeat offender and is caught in the web of crime from a young age. In fact , in every scene of his performance, Rajan’s entry was met by cheers from the crowd! We also received encouraging feedback from the staff at the Home.

16th September. A week later. We took the show to Vasant Valley School, an elite up market institution, whose students did not have much exposure to the world of juveniles or crime.

As the lights faded out at the end of the performance, there was complete silence in the hall. The students looked in an absolute state of shock after the play. It was an alien universe for them, and the characters’ reality very different from their reality. As they started to leave the hall, we were suddenly surrounded by a group of 35 – 40 students and teachers, with innumerable questions about  the characters, stories and scenarios that were part of the performance. Some of them were very keen to volunteer with us and visit the Juvenile Remand Home.

Both shows left us with a sense of satisfaction as well as urgency – to reach out to more audiences, to go deeper into our characters, to explore these realities more and more.

We are now packed for Glasgow and are looking forward to our show on the 9th of October. When we return home, we will reach out to more diverse communities and use this as a platform to initiate constructive discussions.

Photo Credits- The Yuva Ekta Foundation, Subhadra Kamath and Trina Shankar

 

Intern’s Diary: An hour in Jahangirpuri

On Thursday last week, I had the honour of receiving a personal tour of the notoriously infamous Jahangirpuri. It was built in the 1970s as a resettlement colony for the countless immigrants that had swarmed into the capital city in search for jobs and a better life. However, the unfortunate truth was that the capital could seldom offer many of them even a roof over their head.

Today, this colony, which was built with the aim of providing these people with a better, sheltered life has turned into a place infested with serious drug, crime and waste management problems.

The most obvious instance of the trash problem is the huge waste dump that exists behind the colony. The backyard of the colony is a massive space filled with garbage from all around the city, and while it has some serious health and hygiene implications, it is one of the ways in which many of the people in Jahangirpuri make a living. There are a lot of of recycling units around the colony, which employ young boys to search through the waste dump and gather recyclables such as thermocol, plastic or paper. This is not only good for the environment but also for the society as it promotes societal awareness and monetary support for many of the families living there who do not really have better alternatives for their basic income. IMG_0790However, the boys that work in this field, colloquially known as the “kabaddiwaalas” are infamous for their bad behaviours, notably drug addiction, as they tend to spend the little money they earn on drugs or get easily involved in the gang trade. Moreover, working in such unhygienic conditions is hazardous to their health as they could attain all sorts of diseases from the constant exposure to waste and garbage, as well as get physically harmed in the process. For example, it is very common for them to get cut by broken shards of glass.

The other issue with garbage and waste in this part of town is the sewage system. The sewage canals are not covered and so there are obvious issues with this such as the flooding of this nasty water in the rainy season. Moreover, the potent smell doesn’t help the case. However, what shocked me more was that the sewage pumping station in the area would pump the sewage and dump the junk they pumped onto the banks of the sewage canals, which meant that the streets would be covered in this nasty-smelling, unhygienic sewage disposal, with no means of any sort of cleaning process. Their job was to pump it out, and so they would do just that, and leave it there to stink up, and contaminate the colony that thousands lived in.

We then visited the school, and I was surprised to know that each of the 12 original blocks has its own government school. There were a few things that pleasantly surprised me regarding these. We visited the D-block government school for girls and boys. While the school was not co-ed, both girls and boys learned in the same building. The system had been organized in such a way that the girls’ school ended at 1 pm, and the boys’ school started at 1.30 pm. Thus two schools were running in the same building.

We first visited the principal of the girls’ school. While I didn’t speak to her much, I was pleasantly surprised to have met a special educator who taught disability children in the school. I was taken aback by the fact that a government school offered such facilities to their students, especially when education is free-for-all until the age of 14 in India. She further explained that the system employs these educators as an extra help to their students who spend their days in regular classes with the other students, and are given special attention by these educators outside of the classroom. This impressed me to the core, it was like a breath of fresh air. As a psychology student I study about the importance of a system that identifies and understands the need for special attention for children with disabilities, and I left that day with a much needed faith in our education system. However, we didn’t have much time to discuss the system through which they identify the kids with disabilities, and the training that special educators undergo. This is something I’d like to research further. Also, it is important to note that I only had a preliminary conversation with her which only allowed me to know that there is a system in place for disabled kids, I wasn’t however able to assess the efficiency of the implementation of said system, which is also something I would like to further research.

We then met the principal of the boys’ school, and I was quite impressed by him. He shared a similar passion for education to me, and seemed to understand the importance of a holistic education in India. We didn’t have a long conversation, however from what I heard, the education minister frequented the government schools in the area to see how they were running. This again pleasantly surprised me. He also explained that the theatre workshops that the Yuva Ekta foundation was conducting in the school were really helping the students, and that enabling more emphasis on non-academic learning was is an important part of their learning. I can also assert, with full confidence, that his favorite word was ‘congenial.’

All-in-all, my visit to Jahangirpuri was filled with surprises. I expected to be surrounded by a slum, however I was surrounded by numerous flocks of girls in school uniform walking back home. At the expense of sounding like a typical, oblivious NRI, to be able to see so many girls receiving an education in a country like India really made my heart proud. While there is a serious concern in this place when it comes to drugs and crime and poverty, I honestly think that raising awareness and promoting education will really help the society take a leap forward into bettering their own lives. it is important to remember that rather than giving them help and aid, we must give them the resources to improve their own lives, the power to help themselves. I feel honored to have walked through the streets of Jahangirpuri, and more that that, I felt proud that despite the conditions some of those people live in, they still strive to improve on themselves.

Kaviya Garg is a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, currently pursuing a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Linguistics. Her passion in life, other than food and travelling of course, is education. She wants to help create a more holistic education system that provides enough emphasis on the importance teacher education and awareness as well as just the students.

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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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