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