When I first met Veeru ( name changed) at the de-addiction centre for juvenile delinquents in Sewa Kutir- SPYM Sahyog, I was struck by his concentration level and his love for colours. Thoroughly enjoying the vibrancy of colours while painting match boxes, he started telling me about his family and lifestyle. Veeru’s father was an alcoholic and he passed away when he was very young. His mother got married to someone else and left him. “I was in dire need of money. Hence I had to do what I did”, says Veeru. The need for survival is the biggest need that drives any species. Faced with a choice between survival and landing up in the delinquent centre, what else could a fifteen year old Veeru have done? Eighteen year old Nawas ( name changed) has a happy family of mother, father and siblings at home. He was studying in class ten before coming to the centre and his mother wanted him to be a lawyer. “My friends told me it was cigarette. I did not know what was inside the roll. When I started enjoying it, I needed more of it”, says Nawas. Psychologists suggest that late teens are an age when there are extensive hormonal changes in boys and girls. There is a need for thrill and excitement. Such is the age when the activities of the peer group always appeal more than those of elders or other family members. When this peer pressure leads to drug abuse, there begins a vicious cycle. Drug consumption leads to a need for more drugs and this leads to illegal activities to obtain the means to get more drugs. In the process, the teenager might end up selling drugs to other teenagers. Kamal ( name changed) is eighteen years old and he lives with parents too. Enthusiastic and full of life, he aspires to work very hard once he goes out. “My girlfriend had left me. Drugs gave me a lot of comfort”, says Kamal . We live in a society and culture where there is an obsession with finding ‘love’. The movies we watch, the songs we listen to and the books we read, all seem to reinforce this belief in a need for a partner. The need becomes all the more strong when we see our friends indulging in ‘love’. In such a situation, when a relationship fails, there is almost a sense of guilt and shame and also an urgency to prove one’s heroism. If not a relationship, then perhaps there are other ways to fit in to the peer group. The dazzling eyes of twelve year old Raam(name changed) had caught my attention the very first day that I had stepped into the centre. His agility and chirpiness had literally won my heart. Experimentation, peer pressure, these are traits associated with boys and girls in their mid teens. What could have led a boy who has not even stepped into his teens to substance abuse? It is possible that we are exposing our kids to too much television and media influence. Research suggests that children are most prone to being affected by what they see on the television screen. It is also possible that there is an excessive companionship and dependency on older boys in the peer group who become role models for the younger ones. Delinquency is not just a social problem; it is the root of a much bigger social problem. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory suggests that an individual’s personality is mostly established at the stage of early childhood. Early experiences have a large role to play in the development of personality and continue to affect the individual’s behaviour in later years. It is essential that children go through a healthy development during the early years of their lives. The rise in energy levels that takes place during the adolescent years should be directed towards productive activities. Keeping them engaged in art, music, dance, drama, sports and so on, gives them a proper outlet for the aggression within, as well as helps in their personality development. Furthermore, this aggression needs to be kept in control through parental check and disciplinary measures. Most importantly, children need to be given an ‘I can make a difference’ boost. If they are constantly reminded that their actions will make a difference to society then they will be more prone to indulge in activities which are beneficial to them. However, the biggest problem arises when children do not have the means to ensure that the above mentioned suggestions are enforced. Poverty or absence of parents and teachers as role models is the bigger problems that lead to delinquency since they are extremely difficult to solve. In such a situation, it is imperative that the state and society steps in to ensure that the children are not left to rot. After all, the kids are the responsibility of the society as a whole and their actions will affect the society as a whole too. It is our responsibility to make sure that every Veeru, Nawas, Kamal or Raam grows up to be an ideal role model for generations to come. – Adrija Roychowdhury is a Masters student studying History from Delhi University. With a keen interest in theatre, adventure and human stories; she aspires to become a journalist in the future. She is currently, also volunteering at the Foundation to write about different narratives of human motivation, social justice and human rights.
“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 thank Gauri Saxena, Mona Sharma and Pankaj Gupta for making this event possible. We would also like to thank our guest facilitators Bani Malhotra, Tavishi Krishna and Ankita Dasgupta for their contribution towards the workshops!
Picture Credits- Aarushi
“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.READ MORE
April 29, 2014
A year has passed by since the first time I bonded with various people from amazingly differing horizons. Having so many people who are brimming with ideas in one room just makes me go, “Whoa”! I find myself sitting in that same room with gazillions of thoughts that have already taken shape and those which are just ready to burst out.
Vaguely enough, I find myself not on time almost every day. Yet, my un-punctual character is greeted with smiles that peep through to show delight in its full glory. Else, I’m made to do push-ups that just get me even more pumping for the 3 hours that we spend together. The same (or some other ritual) is inflicted on anyone who’s late. Yet, it ends up making that very person sense things with a whole new dimension and a colorful perspective.
So lost in the midst of wonderful people, I find it hard to keep track of my experiences in their chronological order. Each moment is so exciting and stimulating that one gets lost in it like a man would in a universe filled with shiny stars. And then there are those extra special moments when an otherwise quiet person bursts out with joy on experiencing their new found treasure.
Some do get “tired” in the warm up sessions, but all of that fades away once we start cracking jokes at each other and begin our day. From loud “HA’s” to mind numbing physical exercises, we begin with little bodily and mental modifications every morning. These prep us for the whacky activities that hit us out of the blue. These are followed by more exercises targeted towards new muscles that we discover everyday (some are found inside my highly bald head as well). Sometimes it seems as if flexing my goatee muscles would be easier. Then we “break” off for a sip and a bite and wander around to reboot our complex personal utilities.
Me yelling “GOLA BANAO!” is a common site. After each one of us is back in the “gola”, we break off into groups trying to make tiny scenes of everyday life by pooling in our ideas. Ah! It would’ve been so tranquil if it were that simple! Numbers, losses of consonants, strange situations are only the beginning. Making us think harder, some awesomely beautiful ideas crawl out of nowhere. To state a few, we did sing “Ek, Do, Teen! Char, Paanch, Chey, Saath, Aath, Naw, Dus, Gyara! Bara, Tera!” in a disco scene, and then we broke out in thunderous laughter trying to articulate sentences without their consonants, like “U O-Ot U-Ar Oh!”
Always stumbling upon new ways to entertain each other, we end up learning bucket loads of new things. Three hours fly by as if it were only a minute, a room with tons of commotion falls silent within that minute and “chappals” keep disappearing and turning up at weird places (pranks carefully planned out by a mastermind who is still on the run). And then the long wait for a new day begins…
Danik Ghosh aka Boomba is a Bluebells School International graduate, who was part of the Yuva Ekta Workshops in Summer, 2011.READ MORE