By Sonal Kapoor
Protsahan was born in the summer of 2010, when I was shooting a corporate film for an organisation I was working with at that time. It was then that I ventured out with my camera and visited a slum that was nearby.
There, I met this family where a woman lived with her six young girls. Her children observed me with inquisitive eyes, flies taking turns to feed on their muddy skin and unkempt hair. None went to school. I was curious to know what plans she had for her children and also for the one who was to be born. Her matter-of-fact reply made me gasp in shock. “If this time it’s a girl, I'll strangle her the moment she is born,” she said.
I quit my job. Not even for a minute did I think whether this would work or not, whether I would have funds or not, or for that matter, whether I even had the strength to take it all on all by myself. This family needed a change. Despite our obsession with reading and writing and rote learning & RTE, I knew it all had to be done differently for a girl from the red light area, or a girl who gazes at the hot sun while her dad bricks up the wall at a construction site. So, I decided to teach them through creativity and art.
We knew, we had to design "real solutions for real people". So, we designed our basic curriculum with ART & colorful stories. We learnt Warli Art from YouTube and taught them. We painted the walls in the slums; got the women in the slums to paint diyas during Diwali. We sold these at Airtel, Moser Baer, TCS and Infosys to raise funds.
These children come from very tough backgrounds. As a creative medium, the arts stimulate cognitive development, encourage innovative thinking and creativity and engender understanding. If art can hone your skills, help you earn and bring happiness to a family, why keep stressing on rote education? We will gradually train them with livelihood skills using Madhubani and Warli art forms amongst a host of other creative skills, so that these little ones can stand on their own feet, earn a living and make beautiful and strong careers.
If 69 girls could change in the last 13 months, I have no reason to not believe that 69,000 cannot undergo a change in the next 20-25 years.
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