In this piece, we shed light on the inspirational thoughts behind a number of successful non-profits that are using creative ways and cultural activities to help the underprivileged.
In this busy world, you will find only two kinds of people – the one who thinks and the one who feels. Fortunately, there is a growing community (read NGO’s) who feel as well as think that we serve ourselves and humanity by helping others. In this piece, we shed light on the inspirational thoughts behind a number of successful non-profits that are using creative ways and cultural activities to help the underprivileged.
MUSIC AND DANCE
Music and dance are a universal form that have the power to reach out and bring smiles to the largest number of people. In 2008, Music Basti, an arts education program that seeks to inspire underprivileged children to share their dreams and aspirations through music was set up in Delhi. Founder, Faith Gonsalves says, “Music is a really powerful equaliser. It also brings with it a whole host of learning and developmental benefits – whether it’s learning math and rhythm, language and singing or how to work together with other children.” The children in their program are taught certain essentials about music through exercises and activities around rhythm, pitch and melody. The culmination of their program is a public concert where all the groups perform original songs written during their time with Music Basti. In the past, local bands like Advaita and Five8 have collaborated with their children for a recording project.
Delhi-based The YP Foundation also does a lot of work in the field of education and human rights, but is best known for their Silhouette programme that promotes young people’s livelihoods in performing and visual arts with a focus on independent music, music education and artist rights by connecting amateur, upcoming and established artists through collaborative projects across India.
In the field of dance, Ramana Sunritya Aalaya (RASA) founded by acclaimed dancer, Dr Ambika Kameshwar in Chennai has been empowering unprivileged children through dance and theatre since 1989. The danseuse has previously taught dance at Ramana Maharshi Academy for the blind in Bangalore, which subsequently led her to spread these art forms to people with mental challenges as well. Today, RASA has empowered over 10,000 people with and without disabilities, providing them theoretical and practical experience. They’ve also been given a showcase on the big stage through small as well as mega productions.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
Rhythm of Life started in Delhi in 2011 when two musicians – Shrey and Lalit – visited a slum to teach music to underprivileged children. Spending time with them, the two realised these children need a whole lot more and Shrey tell us “Experts now teach the kids skills like lamp making, block printing, knitting, stitching and paper quilling as well as making bags, envelopes, candles, earrings etc. This project also helps us generate funds, which are diverted back for various welfare programmes. Girls who complete 6 months in this project are given stipends, so that they feel independent, and live with a sense of dignity and responsibility”.
Tarang is another non-profit community that has taken an initiative to develop through the creative medium. With its roots in Kapashera – which is near a Gurgaon garment industry and hence, has a large population of migrant garment factory workers living there – Tarang works with the youth by organising workshops in film making, photography, radio etc. Project Associate, Pravin Kumar says, “Our community radio program named, Zara Hatke helps in developing their skills as well as their understanding of social, civic and migrant issues. We are also running a computer centre to promote digital literacy.”
Theatre has always been a powerful medium in creating an impact, be it big or small. Mumbai based, Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation is committed to promoting and preserving the country’s rich and vibrant traditions in theatre as well as music and dance. The foundation provides scholarships to unprivileged children for cultural activities and education, so they can live a life of dignity.
To promote the theatre culture of the north-eastern states in Delhi, Indrajit Das came up with a socio-cultural trust of INLI in the memory of Padma Shri Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia. Indrajit tells us, “We wanted to familiarise Delhiites and residents of northeast who are born and brought up in Delhi with the rich cultural heritage of the seven sister states through drama, music and dance. We have collaborated with cultural platforms like enajori.com and Shristi to organise free storytelling sessions, painting competitions, workshops on drama and music. Currently, we are working to translate Assamese drama scripts into Hindi and English, and stage these plays to reach out to a larger section of audience”.
SPORTS & SELF DEFENCE
Mahantesh GK and his childhood friend Nagesh grew up together in a blind school and wanted to give back what they had learnt via education, sports, and culture to the disabled fraternity. They both had a strong inclination towards extracurricular activities and thus, Samarthanam was formed in Bangalore. A platform to promote sports and performing arts that give much needed confidence and exposure to the visually impaired, they support blind cricket and organise competitions through their cricketing arm of CABI – Cricket Association for the Blind in India. The sport has exposed visually impaired players to important aspects of life such as discipline, teamwork, fitness, strategic planning, competitiveness and sportsman spirit.
At a time when women’s safety in our country is top priority, entrepreneur Akshuna Bakshi’s initiative SHE – The Women Warriors believes in working as a collective force to tackle issues like women safety, girl child education and gender equality. “At SHE, we are focussing on self defence workshops in various localities as it instils a whole new level of confidence in women and prepares them to protect themselves in any untoward situation. Every year, we organise a special self defence demo and other cultural activities at our women-oriented festival, SHE ”, says Akshuna.
Note: The article first appeared on TimesCity/What’s Hot