Tag Archives: Workshop

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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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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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PLAYBACK THEATRE Workshop with Brian Tasker

The Yuva Ekta Foundation recently organised a three-day theatre workshop on the technique of PLAYBACK THEATRE, conducted by our guest facilitator Brian Tasker. Participants included actors and musicians from diverse backgrounds and organisations.

It was a great learning experience for all of us, and we aspire to set up Yuva Ekta Playback Theatre Group, which will be an integral part of our Community Outreach project at Jahangirpuri.

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A search for Dignity

Slums and Urban Villages have been an ongoing fancy of Social Sciences globally, particularly due to the acute problems of ‘Urbansiation’ they represent. Methodologies and conceptual paradigms have evolved over the years. There has been a steady rise among policy makers, activists and academicians alike, to focus on the idea of community growth and development. To be able to understand politics and social setup in a city like Delhi, requires us now more than ever, to get a firm grip on local political activities in various hinterlands of the city.

Jahangir Puri is one such area, forged carefully on lines of migration, region, religion, caste and class. A perfect microcosm for anyone who goes with the intention of ‘studying’ or ‘understanding’ the ‘other side of urbanisation’. However, we have to be careful not to romanticize our opinion on Jahangir Puri.

The Yuva Ekta Foundation has been trying to build in-roads into the area to start a ‘Community Theatre Program’. This project is a logical extension of our work at the Sewa Kutir Complex, Kingsway Camp, wherein we worked with ‘Juveniles in Conflict with Law’ for the past 5 years. Jahangir Puri has an inglorious reputation for being the bedrock of crime in the city.

Addressing issues specifically related to ‘Youth at Risk’ is a mammoth task. For this purpose, we have decided to take up one specific location in the city and start implementing a few of our ideas.

We have so far been able to fight innumerable barriers present either within ourselves as human beings and activists, or outside of our immediate control, in our ‘system’ (as we like to call it). At the first level, these barriers present us with unending questions about life ‘on the fringes’ and conditions, we in our offices aren’t used to. We begin to accept these questions not as challenges, but enriching experiences, which need to be looked at practically. Thus start our community visits, where we spend hours each day, going to people’s homes and trying to look at their problems empathetically. Most of our own beliefs are shattered for good; breaking inhibitions and creating ground for further work.

At the second level these barriers present us with institutional problems. How do we convince people to be a part of our project? What do we tell them? Are people willing to experiment with ‘Expressive Arts’? Where do we start our workshops? Of course the situation is out of control. Slowly and steadily however the pieces start falling into place. We are able to get people on board as we share our intent with them.

Here we are today, 2 months into the project, rounding up our first phase. Up to now, we have been able to get across to a little more than 60 families, each of whom has shared their ideas as to why they want to join this program. Each household has a story, each captivating enough for us to go keep going back and strengthening our connection.

Our Community Theatre Project is an experiment in ‘Community Centered Expressive Arts’. The idea is to make individuals more aware and involved in their life and surroundings. The challenge for us would be to address critical concerns in people’s lives through techniques like theatre, crafts, dance, music, up-cycling and more. We believe that through this medium, we will also be able to provide a reason for the residents of Jahangir Puri, to come together as one single unit, which can assert its rights and demands, collectively.

In this rather relentless exercise, we hope that as a Foundation, we can learn and grow manifold. The idea is not to impose our views and opinions on residents. We aren’t going there with the intention to ‘help the inferior’ in any possible way. Any inclination to think likewise is foolhardy. We, as facilitators, want to simply share, learn, expand and grow.

We start our second phase in the month of May. Schools are shut, the heat is on, but so is the intensity. We have invited all community stakeholders to participate. The group would be a pulsating unit cutting across age, gender, region, caste and religion. We simply cant wait to get back out there.

- Rijul Kataria works as a Research Coordinator with The Yuva Ekta Foundation.

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Finding me – Jaipur Diaries

The finding me workshop has been one of the most amazing things that I have ever experienced. This has truly changed the way I look at life drastically.

Ten days ago, when I entered the workshop, I did not believe in the fact that we, the youth, had the power of affecting and influencing people and encouraging them to be the better people that they are. This workshop has made me aware that people of my age face all kinds of problems. That mine are not the most important. That I am not the only one. It has taught me that everyone in this world, no matter what their caste, creed, color, shape, size; are the same. That we all think alike and experience the same things.

When we set out to spread this message to the youth, the feeling was wonderful. I realized that helping someone else overcome their flaws or plain accepting themselves and others as they are, is the best thing one can do.

I have realized that we, the youth, can make a great impact on the world, to make it a better place for you and for me.

- Simran Jain from Jayshree Periwal High School was one of the participants of the Youth Outreach workshop at Jaipur Literature Festival 2016

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Finding Me – Jaipur Diaries

A new experience is always a delight but I must say that this one was the best. The 6 days I spent at the workshop were a great step to find myself and  it made me aware about social problems and made me more confident and also I was able to understand that one person is enough to change things.

Being a part if this programme changed my perspective towards others and myself. I usually set prejudices for people but now I am beginning to realize that we can never judge a person without knowing him or her. Also, I realized that the most important thing in life is knowing who you are and accepting yourself with all your flaws.
 

When we interacted with students from different schools , we realized that many students were able to relate their lives with the scenes of our play and they said that we inspired them. This comment made me understand the power that we, the young generation possess and if we are determined we can definitely change all the ill practices around us and make the world a better place.

- Malya Sharma is from Rulmani Birla Modern High School and she was one of the 47 participants of our Youth Outreach workshops at Jaipur Literature Festival, 2016 

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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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Community Outreach Programme- Waste Management

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Students between the ages of 14- 18 from these organisations have been met to talk about The Young Visionary 2015- a programme based on the theme of Waste Management at the level of the individuals, households, institutions and RWAs.

We are trying to work out partnerships between schools and these shelter homes, so that each school and NGO pair works in their vicinity on a three month long. But in the meanwhile, we have started orientations with students from centres in Kapashera, Sujan Singh park, Mahipalpur, Najafgarh road, Okhla, Tis Hazari and Ramesh Nagar.

We are also crowd funding to be able to raise funds for these workshops on Indiegogo. (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/community-outreach-program-the-young-visionary#/story)

For more updates join us on Facebook.

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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.