Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Dream Catchers

I am pleased to share with you NalandaWay's story of the month.
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Dream Catchers 

Dear Friend,

At the outset, I would like to thank you for supporting us in our journey towards helping thousands of disadvantaged children achieve through arts. Having co-facilitated our 'Kanavu Pattarai' initiative- which helps heal adolescent children from exploitative backgrounds through art, I would like to share Altaf's story with you. 

Altaf is a shy 14-year old studying at the Corporation School in Chindadripet, Chennai. An introvert by nature, he is the typical quiet child who maintains a low profile and prefers to be invisible in front of his teachers. Altaf’s shyness largely stems from his lack of confidence and inability to express/communicate clearly. Any one of these two problems on its own is quite enough to pull someone down harshly, but for Altaf it was a deadly duo! His fledgling wings were already becoming numb to ambitions.

When Altaf came to our ‘Kanavu Pattarai’ (KP) camp, he continued to retain his shy demeanour and quiet ways. His participation in camp activites was moderate and he wasn’t quite able to overcome his fears. The biggest challenge came when he, along with a couple of his classmates, had to give a presentation on  ‘Ideal India’. The presentation would basically have to entail the students’ perspective on how they wanted their country to be. In the previous activities, Altaf would normally let his teammates do the talking, but this time my co-facilitator- Bhagya insisted that each person face the audience and speak. It was not insistence by authority but insistence by concern. Unfortunately insistence alone was not sufficient to make Altaf talk before an audience. He stammered, forgot, trembled, gave up and broke down. The facilitator switched from insistence to persistence. She simply would not let Altaf give up.

She took Altaf outside the hall and asked the others to continue their presentations.  A few minutes later, the door opened and Altaf entered the scene. Bhagya had shown Altaf a new way to combat his nemesis. He stood up to the audience, established assertive eye contact and fluidly used orchestrating gestures of hands to aid his presentation. Such was his transformation that on the fourth day of the camp, when he and his classmates were asked to put up an exhibition of their artworks at DakshinaChitra, Altaf took the lead and passionately spoke about his group’s vision for ‘Ideal India’. He explained in detail to visitors about his artwork, the activities that were conducted during camp- and this was even to European travellers despite a language barrier!

So the question is, What did ‘Kanavu Pattarai’ do to him and many others like him? Meaning a ‘workshop of dreams’ in Tamil, KP essentially uses arts as a medium to boost self-esteem, confidence, clarity of thought, curiosity and social skills among young children. Most kids who participate in the camp go home as transformed individuals and hopefully carry on the good vibes with them even later on.

Your support to the project could go a long way in bringing more children like Altaf to the KP camps. Why don’t you make a contribution today? No amount is small

So long,

Gomathi Shankar
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