Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The grand finale!

The 4th 1000 Crane Camp ended last Friday. All children are back at home and we are back in the office. As all the other camps before, also this one was special.

We started the last day of the camp with a self- reflection and feedback round, where we asked the children to draw their daily highlights. We saw that every activity was the favorite of one or the other child. Of course the children have different interests but we realized that we had satisfied each of them.

 The feedback was followed by a collective artwork. We divided them into 2 groups, prepared 2 canvases with an underwater scene for the children and asked them to design them using colors, fabrics, buttons and waste material.

In the second half of the day the children had to prepare their exhibition for the same afternoon. The excitement and happiness was great! One group of the kids prepared a small program with songs and dances. The other group prepared the room for the exhibition and made sure that all artworks are shown in the right way. At 4 o´clock the first people came in to see the art of our children.
The exhibition is a very important part of the camp, especially to see what the children finally learned. Most of the children come to the camp with a lack of confidence. So it´s always amazing to see this kids, who were 7 days before too shy to speak in front of the group of children, now speaking, singing and dancing in front of a group of adults. All together the exhibition was a total success! The children showed all the visitors around and explained each and every little piece of art- and the visitors were obviously impressed by so much passion and talent.


After this long and very exhausting day we all just fell into bed, because the next morning we planned to see the sunrise at the beach- which meant: waking up at 5 in the morning! So the next morning started early at 5 a.m., but all the difficulties to wake up were worth seeing the sunrise, the beach and the children enjoying to play in the water.
After we came back, the saddest part of each camp started: saying goodbye.
The children from Chennai and Goa became very good friends, so it was hard for them to let go each other. They exchanged their phone numbers, addresses, self made cards and small gifts- and it made us very proud to see this honest love for each other.

In the end we would like to quote some of the children´s feedback to the camp:

“When I came to Chennai I was very shy, but now I feel more confident.” (Vasanth)

“I didn´t like to speak English before, but with my new friends it was easy to learn more English” (Magdalene)

“I´m very happy that we did so many different artworks, I feel more free in expressing myself now.”

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Day 6 - Visit to the Royal Enfield factory, Dancing and Painting

After all the fun and excitement from Day 5, Day 6 started on a much calmer note with meditation followed by painting color based associations. The children finger painted the first thing that came to their mind when a certain color was called out and wrote down the feeling or thought that the color brought in them.

Out of all the motorbikes in India, no other bike receives more respect for its elegance, power and rhythmic beat as the great Royal Enfiled. So a factory visit to their new assembly plant in Oragadam, was a unbelievable opportunity for most of us, which was clear from the big smiles we had on our faces when we reached there. The Oragadam plant came into service earlier this year, currently produces more than 200 bikes a day and has the capacity to produce up to 1200 bikes a day. We were greeted there by factory in-charge Raja Ratnam and his crew, who spoke about the history of Royal Enfield and about the safety procedures we had to follow inside the plant. 

Next we were taken through the Assembly Line, where we were shown how the bike starts out, step by step from just a chassis, to a fully functional motor bike that goes straight into testing and is then prepped  for shipment. Here we also got to see their newest model, the CafĂ© Racer, which is already launched in Europe and is set to be launched in India in the next few months. We were then taken to the highly advanced paint shop to see how each part of the motorbike goes through a four stage process and comes out stronger and with a beautiful sheen. The children were completely fired up throughout the 1 hour factory tour and bombarded our two guides with countless questions, which they patiently answered. 

After taking a group photo outside the factory (photographs are not permitted inside the factory floor), we started back towards Dakshina Chitra where an ‘Oyilattam’ (traditional South Tamil Nadu Dance form) workshop had been arranged for the kids. This workshop was definitely a test to our children’s endurance as pace of the rhythmic beat goes extremely fast at the peak of the performance.

The day ended with the children taking time to work on posters expressing their message on water conservation, which will be displayed in their exhibition at Dakshina Chitra tomorrow. If you are in town, please drop by between 4PM to 6PM to see the wonderful work the children have done for the last 6 days.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Day 5 - Crocs, Gators and that slight dizzy feeling

The volunteers were up to mischief after 4 days of the camp here in Chennai. We convinced the kids that the plan for the day was to go to a library and research on either ‘Fashion Technology in Czech Republic from the 18th Century’ (a little difficult considering Czech Republic wasn't even a country until 1993) or ‘Chinese Diplomacy in Trade Relations’ (an equally mind boggling topic). So, after a half an hour morning yoga routine, when we headed out to The Madras Crocodile Bank, the kids had absolutely no clue what was coming up.

The Madras Crocodile Bank is India’s leading institution for herpetology research and conservation. The center hosts more than 5000 Crocodiles and Alligators, covering 18 out of the 23 known species in the entire world, along with many different types of snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises. Kaveri Bharath who conducted the ceramic workshop on Day 3, is a volunteer at the center and along with 2 of her colleagues, gave the kids a super deluxe tour of the center. Kaveri told the kids about each species’ characteristics, their habitat, their behavioral nature and their conservation story. 

The star attraction of the park, Jaws III, a salt water Crocodile who is almost close to 6 meters in length and around 700 Kilograms, unfortunately decided to stay underwater and not give the children a viewing. But instead they got to see a rock python up close (a couple of them almost touched it) and also a demonstration of how venom is extracted from the extremely poisonous Krait. The Madras Crocodile Bank definitely changed the perspective of most children on how they view snakes and reptiles and they came away understanding, why the mission to conserve these magnificent creatures is so very important in this day and age.

After an exciting and educational tour of The Madras Crocodile Bank, the kids had another surprise in store for them. Prit Kumar, a good friend and supporter, had lined out a brilliant fun filled afternoon for the children and at local theme park called MGM Dizzee World. Although the adults were exhausted after the first couple of hours, the kids did not seem to be even slightly affected by fatigue after hours of getting on spinny, jumpy, flippy and just out right scary rides. 

The day was extremely far off from what the kids had imagined it would be, especially when they were (reluctantly) prepared to spend the day writing about Chinese Trade Matters. But through experience based learning, they now know so much more about reptiles, conservation and on a lighter note, the stimulants of projectile vomiting. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

A Fashionable Day 4

The exhaustion of Day 3 with all the drama and activity had the children stay in bed till a little later than usual, but, once ready they all looked bright and colourful dressed for their day out.
As always they were only informed the previous day that we shall be going out of campus but where we were going was to be a surprise.
The National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai, was established in 1995. It has since become a center for fashion and fashion studies in South India. Dr.Anitha Manohar, Director, NIFT, Chennai was gracious to accept our request to visit the institute with the children and also to organize a day long fashion workshop for the kids.
The NIFT bus was at Dakshin Chitra promptly at 9 and we set out for a day at the college. During the bus journey when the children were asked what they knew about NIFT, we got answers like – “it is about modeling of clothes” since their exposure to fashion is FTV.
On reaching NIFT, we were welcomed by Kartikeyan, faculty of Textile Design and Sridhar Amanchy, faculty of Knitwear Design, and four smiling young students of Textile Design. The kids alighted the bus like VIPs and were welcomed as VVIPs to NIFT.

A quick introduction to NIFT, and a tour got them settled down for their first class with Geetha Ranjini, faculty of fashion, who helped them classify the clothes we wear on a daily basis and helped them understand how basic shapes actually make clothes. Most of the children were amazed that one has to actually study so much to make clothes, they thought of it only as a tailor’s job and some people who work for FTV.

The excitement grew when Geetha told them that now in pairs they would make their own garment.
Probably for the first time kids below the age of 16 entered the state of the art pattern making and draping labs of NIFT to try their hand at draping with a muslin.
Again Geetha after introducing them to the basic tools of draping and the dress form left them to figure out what garment they would like to make and get started on the dress form.
The draped garments that were created had the NIFT students, faculty all shocked at the creativity. Without any knowledge, we had a draped gown, a cowl neck top, a lapel jacket and a clean bodice.

The children were also invited by Professor Mathews Abraham of the Fashion Design faculty to participate in his Costume and Theater class.  In this session the children actually heard the story of CANDYLAND and saw some of the costumes being worked on using chocolate and candy by the students of the class. Mathews also showed a couple of videos of famous characters like Spiderman and Lion King explaining the need for creativity and ideas to create garments for theater.
Lunch was quick because there were many more activities planned but was entertaining as the NIFT students showed them some films made by them during class projects.
Post lunch, we began with a basic print design class with Kartikeyan, who using a simple square and basic shapes helped the kids to create a complete surface design, which then the Textile Design students used to create a repeat pattern which was applied to the photographs of their draped garments to create a complete CAD of their garment.

The smile and amazement on the faces of the children was priceless.
The day ended with a little interaction with Dr.Anitha Manohar, who spoke a them. Answered questions like Which year was NIFT started? Do people really make garments out of chocolate?

Finally when asked by her how many want to study fashion, from the group of 12, we had 8 hands that were up in a second, including Keerthika who did not want to go back to Dakshin Chitra or back to her school, she just wanted to stay on at NIFT.
The day was planned to end at 4 pm by stretched on till 5.30 pm and it would have seemed that after such a long day the children should be tired to not want to move a finger but somehow they just wanted to go on seeing more and talking more to Kartikeyan and his students.
The goodbyes were silent with a promise by the children that they will come back soon to see them all.
Definitely a fashionably inspiring day !

Day 3 : Acting .. Enacting .. Creating

The third day started with the cleaning of our Hall where all our workshops are taking place. As mentioned in the last post, we made a quiz with all the pairs, about knowing each other. The 2 teams who have made the most mistakes had to clean the Hall.

After breakfast and another 3 rounds of our new favorite game “Giants, Magicians and Princesses” , we welcomed Kaveri for a ceramic workshop. 

First she taught us basics about clay and its different types. Especially Sonu who prepared himself with a breakfast of 8 wadas, asked a endless number of questions. But also all the other kids were listening very interested. It was great to see how engrossed and interested they were in the activity.

 After a theoretical introduction by Kaveri it was time to try things out. We started with simple pots, we continued with making stamps on the topic of water- in the end everybody went out to find different textures to get an imprint of the same on the clay. Even after 4 hours of “hard work”, the children didn’t want the workshop to stop.

But it was time for lunch and what happened there was amazing: After our introduction of water and water conservation yesterday our kids went out to check water taps all over the place. When they met the manager of Dakshin Chitra they informed him that they found 5 leaking taps and requested him to repair the same.

After lunch and a proper nap, we welcomed Hans for a theater workshop. Hans was directly connected with all the kids. His choice of warm-up games was brilliant and so he definitely convinced them with his humor. 

After the first fun part he divided the children into 2 groups with the task to create a full play. With his method he taught them the basics of playing theater. They started each play as statues, followed by using 1 word, then 1 sentence and so on. 

After 2,5 hours both plays were ready to be shown. We again realized that theater exercises are a brilliant way to make the children feel comfortable with each other and also with speaking in front of a group- its always a kickstarter for the camp.

The final workshop on the third day was conducted by Kaustav of the Inklink collective unschool. They organized a fantastic mask- making workshop. Everybody could become whatever he or she always wanted to be. 

Our activity hall changed promptly to a fantasy world inhabited by princesses, superheros, butterflies, fairies, a blue moon, flowers and pigs. After we all enjoyed the freedom and magic of this fantasy world, Kaustav divided the kids into groups with the task to create a short story in their new identities. The outcome was brilliant and the creativity of the kids is unbelievable.
The day ended with a tasty dinner. Not even 15 minutes after we reached the hostel- we can´t hear any voice on the corridor. It was a long but completely fun day!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The 1000 Crane Project Chennai: Day 1 and Day 2

Day 1

Around noon on the 4th of October, a tired Vasco Chennai Express screeched to a halt at its final stop, a gigantic station called Chennai Central. The Goa crew, 6 children from Care and Compassion home (Panjim) along with 4 Volunteers accompanying them, have finally arrived in the land of Masala Dosas, Filter Coffee and Bharata Natyam, after a 20 hour train journey from Margao. The first impressions of Namma (Our) Chennai are the huge buildings, the iconic statues, bustling streets and the obvious, the Heat!

We quickly get into the cars waiting to take us to the venue of the 4th installment of the 1000 Crane Project, Dakshina Chitra. We were blown away by the sheer size and beauty of this museum and center for South Indian Architecture, Art and Culture. In a couple of hours, the 6 children from the Nalamdana project based in Chennai arrived and after a quick round of introductions, we left for our guided tour of Dakshina Chitra. The entire center is split into 4 main parts, named after the 4 South Indian States - Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In each section, our guide Prabhu walked us through the different types of traditional houses of that region and the rationale behind its structure and design. After the hour long tour, we were inspired to do some art of our own.

Back in our work-space, a pentagon shaped hall, the 12 children received their Art Bags with all the art and craft materials they would require for the camp. Then in usual 1000 Crane style, we put the 12 children into mixed pairs and for the first activity of the day, the partners got to know a little bit more about each other and then painted a beautiful picture as a gift on their partner’s Art Bag.

A tiring but exciting first day soon came to an end and all of us went back to our rooms to get some shut eye and prepare ourselves for a mammoth day 2.

Unfortunately we had technical issues with our camera and weren't able to take pictures of Day 1.

Day 2:

The second day of the camp started with a fun activity where the children had to come up with one way how we use water and the sound associated with it. Some of these included jumping into a puddle with a loud ‘Pichak!’, watering plants with a ‘shhhhhisshhh’ and drinking water with a ‘glug glug glug’. After this we learnt a cool new version of the old classic ‘Rock, Paper, Scissor’ called ‘Giant, Magician, Princess’, where we have to act out the character with our entire body instead of hand symbols.

We then got to know more about Tara Trust, the 1000 Crane project and the main topic of our program – 'Water'. We learnt that out of all the water that covers 75% of the surface of the earth, only 1% is potable water, which has to be shared among the population of the whole world. We learnt how this limited resource is getting depleted day by day due to wastage and pollution and considering this we understood that we have to take action today to conserve water.

Making boats out of used plastic bottles was the first creative task at hand for the children today. After preparing their boats, the children went around the campus to pick up, leaves, nuts, candy wrappers, twigs etc to decorate their boats, which they then painted, and attached on to their boats creating some incredible waste art.

Which child does not like cartoons? So our first collaborator of the camp, Mr Swami, a renowned animator and art teacher based in Chennai was a crowd favorite from the moment he stepped into the hall. The way Swami interacted with the children and how he surprised them with his toon voices, was an absolute treat to watch. He explained how cartoons or animation is all about bringing life to a drawing of a character by making it move. To give the children hands on experience of animating or bringing to life their own drawings, Swami taught the children how to create Thaumatropes, where a part of the picture is drawn on one side and another part is drawn on the reverse side of the paper. When the Thaumatrope is rotated at a fast pace, the two images merge and a moving image is created. Through this exercise the children learnt that making a few mistakes is the first step to learn how to do a new activity. 
But once they mastered the technique, they created moving images of a blinking eye, a flower growing out of a bud, a bee flying among others. As the children got a taste of animation, Swami spoke to the children of how each of them could make their own cartoon if they come up with 1. An Idea 2. Story 3. The  Characters 4. Location and 5. The Message.


We ended the day with a ‘5 Things You Know About Your Partner’ Quiz completion, which was a laugh riot for both the volunteers and the children.