ImpARTing Happiness

Absolutely no one would be unfamiliar with the sight of poor children running from car to car, windshield to windshield, cajoling people to buy some of the wares they are selling or begging for some money. How many of us care to give so much as a second glance to these children and a thought to what they had to go through? At the age when we were being pampered by our parents, these kids were running barefoot on the roads, in hope to earn something to eat. Very few of us have make an attempt to do something for such underprivileged children. Handing them some money is not a solution, something substantial is needed to be done.

A lot of organizations and NGOs are already working with these children and at other such shelter homes and orphanages, teaching them life skills and other useful things which would help them become a good citizen. On the other hand few organizations are working to give them a childhood they deserved, a childhood filled with mirth and laughter and creativity. The joy of making paper boats in rain or cutting out masks from paper plates. Artist at Work Productions is a production house for artists from all fields and I got a chance to teach these children under its project impART, lessons in Art and craft.

This project dealt with teaching these underprivileged children Art, Craft and Music at the shelter homes where they are being taken care of. So, on one of the warm afternoons of April, with a group of enthusiastic college going children, I found myself standing in the premises of Kilkari Rainbow home for girls. It’s in Kashmere Gate, hidden from the public view by dilapidated old buildings which had outlived their owners and now served as garages and storehouses. In the walled area, living in red and yellow limestone building were girls, of all ages. Their world is constrained to living in two huge rooms which have not kept up with time. These children were from the streets. The ones we see at the traffic signals, begging or selling flowers, toys or other odd things.

Throughout our childhood there would have been so many things which we took for granted, were never grateful for; the things these children don’t have access to. The scribbling in the drawing pad or the little things in paper craft which our mothers or sisters would teach us. Playing with coloured sheets, cutting out figures or making cards out of dried leaves. These children too have a right to these innocent pleasures of childhood which sow the seed of creativity in them and helps them indulge in artistic activities which in turn lead to a person\’s holistic development. These children are being taken in care by the \’Dil Se campaign\’ at the various shelter homes around the city. The Dil Se Campaign was launched in June 2005, with a long term objective of upholding the dignity and inclusive rights of the urban poor, specifically for children who live and work on the streets. It helps ensure that the most vulnerable urban street children have nutritious food, protection, health care, and proper education. Led by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) Delhi, Government of Delhi, the Dil Se Campaign is a joint endeavor with the Center for Equity Studies (CES) and Aman Biradari.

The children here are firstly identified, their relations re-established, followed by drug de-addiction and imparting life skills in same and comfortable environment of the various shelter homes. In these places they are nurtured by schooling and allowing them to grow in among other children like them. These children are then given mainstream education in various government schools nearby and sent back to their families.
We under project impart teach them little things like making flowers out of tissue papers to making working boomerangs of sheets. The children are more than enthusiastic and eager to learn and share there work with one another. They indulge in colours with so much interest that the roar of a chaotic class drowns out into perfect silence, with everyone indulged in their work. The best thing about teaching art or craft to these children was the sense of contentment from the joy they radiated. A happiness so infectious, it makes us happy and content with the work we do. The eagerness, the zeal and curiosity is all that one can ask in return for devoting a little time and energy for these children. Over the days, I have found that the children have got better, not only more amiable but also more creative and expressive. I believe such is the power of art.


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Abhyuday Gupta

Dreamer. Achiever.

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