CINEMA FOR A GREATER CAUSE

Posted: January 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

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“Stories are the way human beings understand and communicate our deepest values”, Marshall Ganz

Across the world, storytelling has been used as an effective means of social change. Tales of great leaders have inspired many more in bringing a revolution.  Cinema for years has been used as a mass medium of storytelling, spreading information and building awareness about social issues. The art of storytelling through Cinema has helped many change makers in imparting a message effectively. Cinema is a unique form because it is able to transcend illiteracy; therefore it can be easily viewed and digested by everyone, regardless of age or education.  Film is an amazingly powerful medium to bring people face to face with issues they won’t experience.

At Protsahan, we take pride in being able to touch sensitive social issues with the help of film making. Social issues portrayed in a motion picture’s narrative can resonate with audiences and generate discussion around these issues. This discussion, or discourse, can help construct new ways of thinking and talking about social issues or it can perpetuate the manner in which these issues are already being discussed. The process of film making helps embed a message in the minds of the young ones and gives them a sense of accomplishment and confidence, along with the message being effectively embedded in their minds.  In 2013, Protsahan partnered with UNICEF in their initiative “Say No to Open Defecation”. Protsahan conducted workshops across its centres and encouraged the kids to tell their stories and experiences about Open Defecation through short movies. The films were then made by our kids. The girls took care of every minute detail including script writing, acting, shooting, directing, visualising, editing, all by themselves. The film was made possible with the help of many volunteer photographers and film makers.

Protsahan has also partnered with many such initiatives and through innovative approaches of art, digital stories, photography technology and cinema, conveyed topics which are considered a taboo.

On 17th January 2014, CII along with India@75 and Yi (Young Indians) celebrated the Art, Literature and Sports Day of the National Volunteering Week. National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.  For the first time in India, an attempt is being made to have a volunteering week and celebrate a National Volunteering Week & National Volunteering Day across the country by people from different walks of life jointly by India@75 &Young Indians (Yi). The NVW is an exercise to generate awareness and promote volunteerism in the country.

To commemorate the week, Protsahan screened 2 films made by our kids on Open Defecation in their own communities. The screening was held across all centres of Protsahan in Delhi. The parents and many others from their community were invited to watch the movie and get the message. The screening was done in the open as the message concerns a large section of the society who do not have access to clean and functional toilets. Hence, the venues were strategically selected to attract local vendors, rickshaw walas, homeless in and around the area.

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Through the movie screening, we reached around 800 people who viewed the film across all screening locations. Out of these, 180-200 people were our kids and their family. The screening served a dual purpose of exhibiting the work of the kids along with sending across an important yet ignored message. Open defecation is the common cause of many illnesses and also the most common amongst Indians.    

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The parents of the girls were surprised to see the films and could hardly believe that their own girls could make movies on such important issues. Nishu’s mother felt proud as she said “मुझे यकीन नहीं होता कि ये फ़िल्म मेरी बेटी ने बनाई है।  मेरी बेटी इतनी बड़ी बड़ी बाते करने लगी है और खुद ही इतने आचे विषय पर फ़िल्म बनाना सीख गयी”. (I can’t believe that this film is made by daughter. My daughter talks about such big things and made a film herself on such an important issue”). The girls were delighted and proud of themselves. Fatima’s mothers also confessed, “आपने हमारे बच्चों कि ज़िन्दगी बदल दी, आप का बोहोत बोहोत आभार है”, (You have changed the lives of our kids. We are extremely grateful to you). The girls were delighted and proud of themselves. 

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Volunteers bring along with them specialisation and diversity. Due to fewer vested interests, volunteers show credibility and objectivity. Enriched with new ideas and experience from different fields, Volunteers share constructive criticism and feedback. 

Protsahan requests everyone to volunteer and give back to their communities in any way possible. We call out for professionals with electronic gadgets like laptops, iPads, Kindle to come and introduce our kids to new technologies and keeping them up-to-date so that they become at par with the other kids their age. 


24th January is observed as the National Girl Child Day. Due to lack of stringent rules and their implementation in India, India has the highest Violence Against Children cases. The child sex ratio in the last census was 914 against 1000 males, the lowest recorded since independence.

Protsahan has been working for the upliftment of Girl Child for the last 4 years, introducing them to the world outside their immediate surroundings, seeding new ideas in their minds and channelizing their thoughts towards creation. Creative education has helped us devise new channels of expressions for the girls, who have faced abuse and live with a scarred soul. The young adolescent girls now express their thoughts freely and preserve their innocence.

Today, we celebrated National Girl Child Day at Protsahan. A workshop was organised for the girls by our Criminologist Latvia Lamba, who taught them about Rights of a Gild Child. Latvia engaged the girls in conversations, sharing their experiences where they have been denied of their rights and finding a solution for the same.

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The girls were taught about dignity and equality and how they are less than none through art and craft. Art helps us establish the message in the minds of the girls in a creative way, where they put in their own thoughts in the creation. The girls with the help of their teachers Preeti and Sonia, learnt how to make cup bunnies and butterflies, depicting freedom.

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The girls wrote their learnings from the workshop on the cups, in the form of one liners, explaining the importance of the girl child in their families. These girls aged 4 years to 9 years, who have never been exposed to the world outside and seek all the love and protection from their parents and siblings. With the same realm of thought, the tiny tots in their cute way wrote sentences like:

Image“अगर लडकी ना होगी, तो भैया के हाथ मे राख़ी कौ बन्धेगा?”

(Who will tie the rakhi to the brother if there are no girls?)

Protsahan makes all efforts to preserve this priceless innocence and nurture these girls into strong, independent women.


Anshu

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Anshu is a very bright young adolescent girl who began coming to Protsahan in 2010. By early 2013, she had learnt Kalamkari (an ancient Indian traditional art form) and has beautifully picked up the Warli and Madhubani art forms. She comes from a family where her father is a rag picker and her mother works in an iron factory. One of five children (3 sisters and 2 brothers), she also takes care of domestic work at home and cooks food for everyone. But in the last 3 years, has barely missed her classes at Protsahan. She eagerly looks forward to her time at Protsahan because “main ghar par bore ho jati hu and yahan aa kar bahut kuch karne ko milta hai” (I get bored at home and there are a lot of things to do here). 

Anshu is closer to her father and listens to him more. She loves her community teacher at Protsahan a lot and shares her stories with her. She likes drawing and loves eating mangoes. Initially when Anshu was enrolled here at Protsahan, she would stay quiet and not talk to the other teachers and children. Gradually she started opening up through Warli and Madhubani design sessions and now all of the girls are her friends. She loves playing ludo and wants to become a famous Kalamkari artist. After the 10 month bridge course at Protsahan, we admitted her to a nearby government school. She is brilliant in studies and recently scored 92% in her school this year.

Inspired by all the paintings done by her teachers at Protsahan, Anshu now wants to become a painter, go to college and see the world outside. She wants to explore new places, meet new people and have a brand new life for herself. Anshu wants to draw inspiration for her paintings from the world she sees.

We wish Anshu explores the world, lives life on her own terms and uses painting to express herself

Human Rights: Too Much To Ask For?

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

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As we stand in 2013, going ahead towards another year full of promises of progress, we can’t help but stop and reflect back on the disparity created in the society and how it has changed our outlook towards people.

40 million children below that age of 15 are suffering from child abuse and neglect. There are approximately  246 million child laborers worldwide. Throughout history, women have been denied the knowledge, means, and freedom to act in the best interest of themselves and their children. And we call children the future of our world.

Hillary Rodham Clinton talked about Women’s Rights are Human Rights in 1995. Clinton exhibited an incredible amount of emotion in order to evoke empathy from the audience. She appealed to their emotions by relating issues facing women all over the world. The list of atrocities she gave which breach basic human rights also lend strongly to her pathos argument: (courtesy Wikipedia)

“- It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.
- It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution for human greed — and the kinds of reasons that are used to justify this practice should no longer be tolerated.
- It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.
- It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives.
- It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation. 
- It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will”.

 With similar emotions, PROTSAHAN was started 3 years back, helping protect the rights of little girls in a small village in the heart of the Capital of India. The girls were neglected, abused and mistreated. This was the reality of their life. Absolutely no exposure to the outside world, these girls accepted this as the way of life and continued to live. The local schools were not well equipped to handle such harsh situations and barely imparted basic education.

When we first started, even though education at Protsahan was free of cost, there was a resistance we faced. People did not trust us and refused to send their kids. But as we kept working in the area with schools and individual children, we started getting response. Many girls recommended their friends and we brought them to the school.

Because the girls had gone through difficult circumstances, it was important to channelize their emotions in a direction where it can be used productively. A platform had to be provided for the girls to express their anger, guilt, sadness, happiness. Hence, Protsahan started using the innovative approaches of Design, Art, Digital Stories, Photography, Technology & Cinema to foster Creative Education and Sustainable Livelihoods. The mission being “Encouraging Skills Development & Creative Education through DESIGN THINKING at the bottomest of pyramid”.

In the last 3 years, we have touched the lives of about a 3000 little girls and boys from urban slums/ red light areas/ construction sites/streets. Most children we work with are sexually abused or under the influence of drugs. We work with CREATIVE EDUCATION to mainstream them. We also run women empowerment and skill based initiatives for their mothers/exploited women in urban slums, where their exploitation is maximum.

It has been a fulfilling process for Team Protsahan and with bigger dreams, we aim to completely Stop Child Abuse and equip these girls to change the lives of many more girls, empowering them to fight for their rights.

 


Aanchal

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The little bundle of joy, Aanchal is the naughtiest of the lot at Protsahan. And it’s not hard to figure out when she has a mischief on her mind. Her smiles gives it away.

The Happy Face of Protsahan, Aanchal loves studies and also loves irritating her teachers. She loves English and wants to become an English teacher when she grows up. Aanchal has been in Protsahan for the last 6 months and is loving it. She enjoys painting and has picked up Warli in hardly any span of time. Aanchal is an active participant of the workshops conducted at Protsahan and wishes for the film making workshop to happen regularly.

A little lost in the beginning, Aanchal started painting Warli and used painting as a medium to express her thoughts. Her paintings are a reflection of her frame of mind and her colors are the hue of her mood. She has often dreamt of going to the mountains and wet her feet in the rivers passing by.  In many of her paintings, she tries to capture the snow covered peaks. Since the time Aanchal has been painting and doing other workshops at Protsahan, she has become calmer, confident, with an improved sense of communication. She now gathers her thoughts and then frames a sentence to speak. The film making workshop helped Aanchal organize her thoughts, contribute in the script, follow a thought flow and understand  what emotion is to be captured.

No one knows this as yet, but Aanchal really loves to eat Hingoli and Satmola. She always carries a packet in her pocket. We all know what to give her on her next birthday.

We really hope Aanchal discovers her true self without losing her charm and aura.


Fatima

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Fatima stands true to her name, captivating, charming. When you walk into Protsahan, it is usually hard to ignore Fatima all chirpy and vibrant. Fatima spreads across energy that cheers up everyone.

14 year old Fatima tries to come to Protsahan everyday despite going to school, working at a house nearby, working at her own house and taking her of her siblings. Though usually late in class, Fatima does manage to catch up in her studies. Due to financial situations, her family can’t afford proper meals for the kids. Hence, once in a while, Fatima ends up nibbling the class chalk.

Unlike other students at Protsahan, Fatima does not like drawing or painting as much and has never been forced to pursue the same either. English is her favorite subject and she has an inclination towards photography and film making. Fatima is Protsahan’s dancer and she regularly requests the teachers at Protsahan to put on some music as she can’t do that home. To welcome a delegate of Australian Embassy Judges at Protsahan, Fatima prepared a dance performance and taught the same to all our girls. Her favourite dance form is kathak and insists Protsahan organizes for kathak classes.

Fatima believes in her little dreams and gives in her best to fulfill them. The belief is so big, failure does not exist for her. She once met a lawyer and since that day, dreams to become one herself.

But the big question that her friends at Protsahan always ask her still remains unanswered, “Fatima didi ko gussa kyun aata hai? (why does Fatima get angry)”.

Fatima learning Film Making at Protsahan :-)

Fatima learning Film Making at Protsahan :-)


Soni

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“Iske gaalon me to tube light hai. Dekho kaise chamakte hai jab vo jasti hai” (Her cheeks have tube light in them. See how they light up whenever she laughs). Soni’s friends get excited when asked what do they love about Soni. They say she always laughs and there is never a dull moment in her life.

Soni lives with her parents, 2 brothers and a sister in Delhi. She has been studying at Protsahan for 3 years and says she eagerly waits for afternoon to come to Protsahan. Drawing being her area of interest, she makes beautiful Madhubani and Warli paintings and also teaches her peers. Soni loves making paper mache. With the bridge course at Protsahan, Soni is now one of the smartest girls in her school and scored 84% in her annual exams last year.

With great joy comes trouble, Soni’s brother does not allow her to come to Protsahan and wishes to marry her off at an early age. But Soni, the strong willed, often explains to him how Protsahan has helped her develop as a person and she aims to achieve a lot in her life. With great difficulties, Soni comes to Protsahan everyday and makes the most of her time here. 

Soni dreams of becoming a teacher and teach her kids with love and care. She does not believe in scolding or hitting the kids as she understands that it’s better to set an example for the kids that they look upto than to force them.

Her most memorable moments at Protsahan were her picnic outings with her Protsahan friends. Soni, the curious child loves going to new places and trying new things. Her happiest moment was when she featured in a photograph in the newspaper with Sachin Tendulkar. 

We hope Soni spreads her light wherever she goes and becomes the compassionate teacher.


Manisha

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Some plants grow themselves and some need to be nurtured. Manisha has to be nurtured. Manisha was a slow learner and does not act like the other children. Termed as ‘pagal’ by her peers in the village, Manisha used to stand for hours in line to fill buckets of water and everyone pushed her away, giggled and laughed at her.

But like the Japanese flower Wisteria, Manisha took a long time to grow, but when she blossomed, she filled her surroundings with beauty. Manisha has been in Protsahan for 3 years now. Initially, she was an introvert, afraid to express herself and could barely understand what was happening in the class. With the help of the teachers at Protsahan, she started focusing on her studies. Her new friends at Protsahan helped her participate in all the workshops held at Protsahan and she started feeling a sense of belonging. Manisha started to open up to the other girls. She was losing her fear of rejection and participated in the activities around.

Manisha is 13 yrs old and has 2 little sisters whom she loves. Manisha loves painting and many of her paintings capture the images of women walking with buckets of water and women plucking flowers, some memories of her past.

Weekends for Manisha is her sleep time when she likes to laze around all day. She loves playing Kho-Kho. She wants to become a doctor and cure one of her friend’s affected leg.

At Protsahan, Manisha now feels a sense of belonging. Protsahan is her window to express her thoughts and emotions.

We wish she becomes a doctor one day and proves that disability cannot kill your spirits.


Kiran

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The girl whose eyes twinkle like a star in the night sky every time she smiled. That’s how she was spotted by Protsahan from her village. And the delicious mix of naughtiness and curiosity won over our hearts.

Kiran joined Protsahan 3 years ago when she was struggling to understand the world around her. Education did not interest her. But her curiosity helped her discover her true self. Kiran loves experimenting and does it with all her heart. One of the brightest students at Protsahan, Kiran enjoys painting and is very good with spoken and written english. During Protsahan’s workshops, Kiran exhibited her panache for street plays and film making. At a film making workshop to Stop Open Defecation, scripting and shooting the film really caught her fancy, and has motivated her to pursue this further.

Kiran has her unique way of expressing emotions through art and a lot of her paintings reflect her observations of the day-to-day world. For example, a picture in the text book, a scene from the road while walking back from school or a poster of a film becomes the inspiration of  her next paper mache art.

After 3 years at Protsahan, Kiran now confidently stands and gives interviews to news channels.

At Protsahan, we give our kids the freedom to observe and discuss issues with teachers and fellows. We treat no topics as taboos and no topics are swept under the rug.

Kiran is one of the happiest students at Protsahan and we wish to support her wherever her instincts take her.


Sonam

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A 12 year old, never stepped our of her home, never had friends, never knew the world beyond her family. With a large family of 4 brothers and 1 sisters, she was never introduced to the outside world. 1st day at Protsahan and she just wanted to run back home. No communications skills, hair all messed up, sitting in the corner all day, Sonam wouldn’t speak a word to anyone.

Protsahan encouraged her to come to the school everyday and just look at what was being taught. Fights with fellow students drove her away from everyone and upset her even more. Until one day, she was made the monitor of the class. Suddenly, she was given a responsibility. The teachers encouraged her and everyone listened to her. She felt the trust of the teachers. She saw things moving her way.

And since that day on, Sonam evolved. No more fighting with the fellow students, she felt responsible. She started taking interest in the activities in the class and became one of the fastest learners. She participated in all the workshops and gave in her best at every task given to her.

Today, 3 years later, Sonam is a budding poet who is very fun loving yet very talented. She jovially pesters her friends a lot and can’t stop giggling when her friends are around. She is curious, responsible and the most empathetic of the lot.

Sonam loves writing poems and slogans. She also loves quilling, an art form that she learnt at Protsahan. She loves visual poetry that she has learnt with us. And she wants to become a teacher when she grows up.

At Protsahan, we give our kids the liberty to bring out their emotions and translate them into any form of art form. A free culture with a little bit of discipline helped Sonam discover her true self and be confident enough to dream big. 

Protsahan hopes that she becomes a teacher and teaches many such kids, who deserve a normal childhood.