By Adhikar Batra:
If you are a student of mass communication, you need to constantly keep working and get as much hands-on experience as possible. Six of my friends and I, all from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, realised that if we have to work, we should contribute to something that makes an impact. And so it began. We got in touch with an NGO called Sarvahitey and collaborated with them to start a campaign called Barefoot Dreams in Jhuggi Camp, Gole Market. Little did we know that what started off as work would mean so much to us someday.
Sarvahitey is based in Noida with the objective to cater to the underprivileged, their needs, and gradually making them self-sufficient. They regularly have drives in impoverished areas to educate the people living there and raise awareness about women empowerment, health and sanitation, legal rights, etc. They even have volunteers who conduct tuitions for the children living in these areas as well.
When we think of a slum area, we hardly think of it as a happy space. However, I have spent some of the happiest days of my life in Jhuggi Camp. One may wonder how can anyone feel positive after seeing the kind of conditions that little kids live in; to go and realise your own privilege. But their zeal to learn created an atmosphere that my friends and I loved to be in. The carefree attitude with which they danced to a song called “Hatt ja tau”, how excited they were every time we organised a workshop and to just know that in spite of the many hardships they faced, they had high hopes and the will work to towards their dreams instilled positivity in us.
The purpose of the campaign was to communicate with the kids in the area and not just impart academic education. We conducted a host of interactive sessions wherein they could communicate with us about anything and everything. To entertain them, we once arranged a magic show for them. We held craft workshops and also organized an event in collaboration with ‘Talk Happy Therapy’, to deal with their anxieties with some sessions and activities.
As a game, many of them would try to climb on to me at once. When one of my friends, Poshak Dua, showed them a few magic tricks, they thought he had the power to do anything. One of the kids, Titli, kept asking him, “Bhaiya ud ke dikhao! (Show us how you fly!)” It’s difficult to describe how heartwarming each day was. We had, somehow, never expected such love and affection.
The thing I loved the most about this project is that as we are all college students, we had no money to organise anything. While Sarvahitey provided us with constant support and help, all of this was done almost with zero budget. What really helped us was our policy of ‘the more the merrier’- after the campaign gained some popularity, our friends used to come with us and help us organise workshops and sessions. Since we went all out to promote these events, sometimes strangers used to join us too!
To encourage more people to take part in such campaigns, we’re organizing an event on April 9, 2017, at AntiSocial, Delhi, which is called Cite For A Cause. As the main objective of the campaign has been to interact and raise issues by communicating in a creative matter, some amazing poets and musicians like Sabika Abbas Naqvi, Aditya Bhandari, and Paribhasha Yadav, will be performing at the event. Do join us if you can!