Zee Jaipur Literature Festival Youth Outreach Program 2019

January 15th to January 28th, 2019 Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

“Now I am in BA 1st year, and finally I am breaking the boundaries shackling me all these years.” 

– Roshni and Kiran from Doosra Dashak speak passionately about the boundaries society created for them and how they smashed those boundaries by sheer will and grit. Both of them are now pursuing their ambition to get educated and redefining their Boundaries and Safe Spaces.

“I have finally found a safe space with my family and friends, who don’t judge me and do not slut-shame me.”

– This is the culmination of a really powerful scene, through which our participants focus on their responsibility in making their classroom a safe space where no girl is subjected to character assassination based on her clothes, her relationships, her choice of friends or the pictures she decides to put up on social media.

In its 12th consecutive year of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival Youth Outreach Program- 2019, The Yuva Ekta Foundation delves deeper into the human psyche to help young people understand personal boundaries and create safe spaces for themselves and others, with its theme- ‘BOUNDARIES- Understanding and Redefining Safe Spaces’.

Personal boundaries are like imaginary bubbles around us. WE decide who to let in and who to leave out.

An effective way of understanding personal boundaries is by recognizing how the body registers feelings of ‘YES’ and ‘NO’. Everyone registers ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ feelings differently.

A ‘YES’ feeling may feel light and uplifting. A ‘NO’ feeling may feel heavy or uncomfortable. Learning to recognize the way ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ feels in the body is a powerful tool to help identify our feelings and speak out, reclaiming our power.

In the light of the current “Me Too” movement it is important to create platforms for such conversations to happen openly amongst youth, setting the foundation of Dignity & Respect as the baseline for every interaction, every relationship.

52 young adults from 5 schools in Jaipur share this platform with 6 NGOs which come from rural areas of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Whether from an urban or rural background, the aim is to get the young people to become aware of their boundaries, and have the courage and confidence to articulate them. In the workshop, they explore what to do if someone crosses them, how not to feel guilty or embarrassed for doing so, and not to blame themselves for inviting or deserving unwanted behavior.

“In some ways, it looks like Jaipur and other Indian cities have moved ahead of rural areas, but at the very core, there is still a lot of regressive conditioning, and patriarchy still plays a very big role. Although on the outside they look so different, there is this underlying connection that cuts across urban and rural.”

– Puneeta Roy, Founder & Managing Trustee, The Yuva Ekta Foundation

From consent, gender and caste to mental health and body issues, the workshops traversed into complex issues faced by young adults today. As we introduced more and more ideas into the ever-expanding canvas, real stories started to emerge.

As part of the program this year, there is a 3-hour workshop on adolescent sexual health, with The Population Foundation of India. The children afterwards discuss which boundaries the workshop had broken for them. Jasmine (name changed), a young girl from Jaipur had this to say- “It broadened my boundaries about the LGBTQ community, and today I realized I will not judge them in the way I have previously judged them. I have broadened my boundaries.” 

The 7-day workshops culminates in an interactive performance titled ‘Meri Seema, Meri Suraksha’, which is performed in 10 schools and a community space in Madhogardh village (about 40 km from Jaipur) before being showcased at SAMVAD stage at the prestigious Festival Grounds. After each performance, audiences are invited to share their personal experiences of rejection and crossed boundaries. One teacher observes, “Since my association with Yuva Ekta, I’ve become a better person. A mirror is held up to how children feel, the turmoil they go through, and it’s made me introspect.” Even two of the school principals share their own experiences of vulnerability and where they had drawn strength from.

Through the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival Youth Outreach Program- 2019, we manage to connect with over 4000 students, teachers, community members and JLF Visitors. We would like to thank Teamwork Arts Pvt. Ltd, Teamwork Fine Arts Society, and The Zee Jaipur Literature Festival for providing us with this platform. We would also like to thank Ms Jayshree Periwal for her lending her support to this program.

 

 

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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 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

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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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Yuva Ekta 2011-Dainiks Volunteer Diary

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.

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