Saturday, 10 March 2012


Today, we remembered the children of Fukushima who suffered due to the Tsunami and the leakage at the Nuclear Power Plant exactly a year ago, by telling their story to a group of children at the Auxilim High School, Benaulim. This is the local school, in the village where our office is located.The children were from class 6 and 7.
This is our way of paying a tribute to all the people in Japan, who are still struggling to get back to their normal lives after March 11, 2011.

It was a wonderful workshop, as it was conducted by all our young enthusiastic volunteers. Laura Drese, spearheaded the workshop, by introducing them to the workshop, telling them the story of Japan, and showed them some slides of the devastation caused by the tsunami.
She also presented the causes of such natural disasters, and explained to the children why we need to be more conscious of preserving our environment as a whole if we want to save ourselves from more natural disasters.

Lotta and Katie as well, took turns to tell them about the story of Sadako Sasaki and the 1000 cranes, and then the children painted.

They were really confused in the beginning as to what message to send to the children there, but, then slowly the brushes started working. There were some who just started painting with their fingers.

It was a good day, as we had a number of the kids come to us and thank us, as they thought it was a nice way for them to connect to the children in Japan, and were happy that we chose their school.
On a personal note, I would like us all to spend a minute tomorrow remembering all who suffered due to the devastation last year, and pray and hope, we don’t see any more!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

We are all One Family!

This was the topic of my post even when I wrote about the last day at the New Delhi workshop, but, I cannot think of a more apt heading!
Today, I had invited a group from The Wall Project ( ) as I wanted to the kids to meet with them to understand their concept of beautification and also team work.

Chaitanya, Nitya, Vinay, Dhanya, Nisha and Carl – all are very talented and creative designers in their own fields and I was very happy to see them all come enthusiastically on a Sunday morning to work with us.
The task was huge, since as we were looking at working on a 1.5 mt X 5 mt canvas, which was going to be eventually presented to the Khula Asaman project of TISS, as our token of gratitude for the co-operating with us, and making this project possible in Mumbai.

The young designers were very patient with the children, started from scratch, so that they get the concept, by first making them draw basics in their own sketch books and then tracing it on tracing paper, before collectively transferring their drawings to a larger canvas.
Then the mammoth task of painting this piece began, and for me it was to see if they had actually learnt the lesson of patience after the canopy making activity which had completely bored them. There were moments when the kids were walking away when they could not see any progress, but came back the moment a new task was added to them.
At the end, very painlessly and meticulously, with the help and guidance of our expert wall painters, a really happy and spontaneous piece was completed in about 6 hours.

The highlight of the day though was them meeting Mad Rob! Rob is the TV host of an art & craft programme on a television channel. Since the day the children have been in Mumbai, I was noticing that they were a little glamour struck.  One of the girls aspires to be an actress and is pretty serious, so, I thought it would be better if I can manage to bring in a TV or Bollywood person to meet with them, to hear directly from them that even the field of acting & television requires hard work and education.
Through my network in Mumbai, it wasn’t difficult for friends to try and find out if we could invite a star but whoever we knew seemed busy, then Rob came into my mind, as being from the same design fraternity, I somehow knew that if he was free he would come. And he did!
It made their day! Actually they were so awestruck that they could not believe he was there, and kept staring at him from a distance. The girls were blushing and shy!

We had Rajashri Victor, the founder of VOICE come in for the day. She was amazed and happy to see the girls having done so well. She too tried her hand with a few brush strokes on the canvas.
The girls from VOICE had to leave by 6, and it was really difficult to say BYE to them, even for me. The same children, who had stared at each other with unfamiliar feelings 9 days back, were hugging, and crying and wishing each other the best, and promising to stay in touch.  It was a bit over whelming for me, but I kept my control.
With the promise to learn English properly and that they would remember all that they have learnt, we said bye to our family!
Earlier in the day before the last activity, I conducted a feedback session for the entire workshop. The children answered a set of 11 questions. I shall share them as their chronicles each day, starting from the 7th of March.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Telling Their Story Their Way!

Today is the second last day of the workshop. The kids have worked really hard, there have been the good days and bad days. From my past experience what I wanted to see was the change…and there has been a change!

The boys were disappointed on the first day that the no of girls were more, but the bonding has increased and they are able to interact with everyone, work with everyone, eat and live with everyone of the group!

Shruti came back, and surprised them today, as she wanted to see that the kids put the puppet in use and actually create the story. We had worked on a basic skeleton last night, it was about putting it together.
The first thing in the morning that we did was to discuss and plan the exhibition. I told the children the importance of putting up a display, was not only to see that other people come and see our work but it is also for us to see how we have done at the end of the day.
I also tried to give them the basic tool of how you plan an exhibition. Why you need planning and organization ? By listing down all the art works they had done, they got to realize for themselves how much work had been done in the week. Secondly, they also got to know what was incomplete, what was to be added.

We then put all their spontaneous finger paintings into a “train of thought”

We took the paper cranes and started working on streamers.

The only place TISS could provide us for the exhibition was the foyer of the boys hostel, as getting permission for anywhere else on campus is a hassle, and I really did not wish to waste time on permissions and management issues.
I believe it all turned out for the best, as it was close to where the children were practicing their little puppet play with Shruti, and at the end of it, after all the notices and messages to the community on the campus, it was only the children who appreciated their display.

The exciting part of the evening was a visit by a TV channel, SAAM Marathi, it is a Marathi news channel, they took a little byte of their play, as well as interviewed two of the kids, who were completely excited about being in front of the camera.
Apart from a few curious students, we did not manage to attract the attention of too many students of social sciences, in this social sciences university. But, the kids did want to share their work, so at dinner time, they actually got motivated to go upto each student in the dining hall and invite them for a performance of the puppet play they had learnt earlier in the day. They also then went to each room in the hostels calling them all. 
They did get a little audience, for sure there could have been more students, but, I have just began to believe that our new students of social work have more important issues to study and work with than children.

The innocence of the child is so pure, that they were happy and excited by just the 10 who landed up! 

Today, was the day of bringing it all together, the works, the thoughts, the learning, the story, the experience!
And finally, after 8 days of work, the only reward that the children asked for was PLAY TIME !!!!! 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Little Music Masters meeting The Crane Experts!

Dharavi Rocks! is a joint educational project between Blue Frog and Acron Foundation, an NGO working for the upliftment of slum children and ragpickers in Mumbai. The project was started with the idea to give access to music to the less privileged combining arts with education.

I invited the children of Dharavi Rocks not only for them to share their music with the 1000 crane children, but also to learn about The 1000 Crane Project themselves.

The first half of the day, we had our 1000 Crane children, learn a little bit of paper craft and clay-modeling with Victor, a fellow from TISS.

During this time, I welcomed the Dharavi Rocks team of twelve – Afzal, Faisal, Minaz, Abdulla, Hasan, Billal, Aziz, Afridi, Rahim, Athar, Imtiaz and Asif!
I presented the story of Sadako Sasaki and The 1000 Cranes and the Hazards of Nuclear Power. To my surprise, there were some of them who knew about it already, which was impressive.

They then all painted their own crane T-shirt to be sent to Fukushima.
I then brought them to the Khula Asaman shed where the 1000 crane children were completing their clay models. Played a few introduction games and went for lunch.
Post Lunch, if when the fun began.

The Dharavi Rocks group came out with their home instruments and played a really fantastic piece for our group. The 1000 Crane children we just left amazed.
We then made a pact – The Dharavi Rocks kids would teach The 1000 Crane children music, and in turn they would learn origami from them. This was unanimously agreed upon.

The group was split as per the no of instruments brought, and each child learn how to play a short rhythm. They then performed individually, introducing the instrument as well as their teacher.

Then, we asked the Dharavi Rocks group, to make a band out of the 1000 crane group, which they handled very professionally and actually got the 10 kids to play a collective rhythm.

We then tried to use their instruments to add music to the Tara Anthem as well as another song.  This was a challenge, as both groups were new to each other, but, the co-operation and co-ordination was tremendous. Finally, we did manage to perform two songs collectively, pretty well.

It was then the turn of the 1000 crane children to teach the Dharavi Rocks group origami. Having gone thru a coaching session already, the kids found it easier to teach their new students. They finally made crane mobiles, and presented it to each child, as a memento of the day spent with them.

There was learning for me as well ! The kids from Dharavi Rocks taught me that there is a musician in all of us, as without any hesitation, I took over and taught them the anthem and the African song –SIM GEM GEM, taught to me by my dear friends Ludovica and Paolo from Italy.
A rather musical day and a fulfilling day ! Thank You Anil, Vinod, Acron Foundation and Dharavi Rocks !