Culture and Empowerment
Celebrates Arts, Rights and Communities
DRIK Jeevanotsava's vision is to create a generation of achievers, and leaders, who enriched with values, can make an impact on society. It aims to reach out to more children in many ways, thereby enriching their lives across multiple communities.
JEEVAN implies life, and UTSAV celebration.
For many indigent children living in slums, urban poor surroundings, and remote rural communities, life was often full of uncertainties and insecurities. In a crowded urban environment, like in the city of Bengaluru, children living in low-income settlements were witness to vice, corruption, street quarrels, and family discord. They accepted their economic hardships and social constraints as their resigned fate. Parents forced by poverty neglected their children's educational needs.
Lost in a world, where Gandhi once said "there was enough for every ones needs but not for everyones greed", a world wrapped in materialistic and consumerism driven aspirations, the younger generation, both the elite and the poor, were sometimes faced with a conflict of values. Young minds grew confused, frustrated, discouraged and even depressed. They had no opportunity to express their innate creative talent and abilities, nor discover themselves through laughter and play.
DRIK Jeevanotsava, a cultural empowerment network based on humane values of love, peace, equality and the joy of childhood, was launched in 2002 in the slums and villages by DRIK, in collaboration with DRRT and AVAS.
Some of the most popular mediums of expressions like singing, dancing, and theater, are being used extensively to allow children to experience the richness of our culture, diversity of our people and teachings of our great leaders, instilling in them a sense of courage, unity, and pride in their origin and their roots. Sports and athletics is also used to build team camaraderie and leadership in the children and youth. Yoga is taught to quieten the minds.
The initial challenge was to motivate communities to allow their children to explore and network together towards their own development, but today Jeevanotsava has reached thousands of children in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu in India.
The thrust at DRIK JEEVANOTSAVA has been to generate awareness, stimulate mindfulness and nurture creative expression by holding camps during vacations, by networking different schools and communities throughout the year, and through public performances within communities or on larger stages using creative expressive forms.
JEEVATMA was a concept launched for children and youth to come together to promote Justice, Equality, Empowerment and Values. Mindfulness, wellness of society, the power of a calm mind and the courage of having and living with convictions were all capsuled into plays with songs and dances to spread awareness amongst others.
Theatre, an important form is used to enact real life situations with inputs, themes chosen by the children. Storylines, dance sequences and music is written, produced specifically for the theme and integrated into the programs and the entire event is taken care by the children including, stage setups, costumes etc and the communities are encouraged to take interest in the process of learning.
Art and Craft
At DRIK we believe that sharpening the creative energies in every child and honing the talent of every youth is very critical. By giving opportunities for self-expression through different means and tools including art and craft became important part of our intervention.
In fact, every subject taught, every thought debated, every dialogue expressed takes expression through an array of colors and myriad hues on paper, cloth, glass or even waste.
SOME IMPACTFUL THEMATIC JEEVANOTSAVA PERFORMANCES
Dharani Mandala Madhyadholage -
In the center of the earth
As corrupt practices become rampant and the poor become victims of exploitation and violence, this drama motivated children to instill belief in themselves and to fight all superstitious mindsets.
The drama was concluded with children taking a pledge to build a transparent, honest, accountable and just society.
Nela Samskruthi - Our Cultural Ethos
This cultural program was focused on creating awareness with a sense of responsibility in our youth who are walking on a tight rope stretched between the exposure to media, internet, television and mobile culture on one hand and, losing sight of our heritage, traditions and values that united us at one time,or another.
Aikyatheye Aishwarya - Unity Is Wealth
Recent times are filled with disunity in the society, amongst people, lack of awareness on issues that lead to systematic corruption, corroding values, disintegration of the national fabric that was carefully woven to win our freedom by our forefathers.
The barriers between the urban and rural scenarios that can be easily salvaged and corrected with unified effort by the people.
Kittura Kahale -
The Trumpet of Kittora
Kittura Rani Chennamma (queen of Kittur, a former princely state in Karnataka, India) had an honest freedom fighter called Sangoli Rayanna in her court, who stood by the values of righteousness and fought with courage to protect the queen from the British.
His name spelt fear for the exploitative British forces during wars. His story is told as part of Indian history to instill values of courage and sincerity in children.
Namma Hakkugalu - Our Rights
This theme was chosen to empower children and youth with knowledge on the fundamental rights guaranteed to every citizen by the Indian constitution, reflecting on human rights as declared by the United Nations, building awareness on child rights and educating children on labour rights especially in context of oppressive child labour, through songs, dance and drama.
Nammaya Kare Sundara Dhare -
Our call to protect our beautiful planet earth
Amongst the most pressing global issues faced by humanity today is the degradation of our natural resources, environment, leading to problems of catastrophic dimensions in all human settlements.
Coupled with this, is corruption, lack of minimum amenities in slums & villages, and poverty & debt.
To stop exploiting our planet Earth indiscriminately, the call to all was to join hands and cry halt to this destruction.
Rights of a Girl Child
Bhavri was amongst the first of the efforts made by DRIK Jeevanotsava for creating awareness through theater on the challenges posed by the issues of child marriage, gender discrimination, harassment and oppression of Dalit women by upper caste men.
Bhavri, a drama based on a real life story of Bhanwari Devi , helped girls of rural villages of Chikkaballapur to think and act, to resist exploitation, and create awareness amongst their families and communities.
This program was conceived to inspire, motivate, and probe
youth to dream big. As each child spoke of their dreams and aspirations they were exposed to other children's life stories and experiences to draw courage and wisdom in their hour of making life choices.
Youth are the biggest asset this country ever had and this program applauds their potential.
The Five Elements - Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Sky
Building awareness on the five elements through various related topics, including conservation of nature, rain water harvesting, preservation of forests, rain replenishing nutrients to mother earth and sustainability of environmental issues. It was overwhelming to see active participation by the youth and children.
I value my grandmother
This was an exciting program enacted in South Indian regional languages where the children discovered the history of India since independence through their grandmother's stories.
They went an extra mile to document a comparative understanding of life over 7 to 8 decades regarding changing food habits, health conditions, gender issues etc.
They highlighted subjects such as quality of food we eat today vs. organic food cultivated in the villages in the past, the impact of this on health and poverty in the long run, and the need for sharing wider responsibilities by the system.
A Reflection of Humane Values
Networking across hundred or more children one summer, a dance drama was scripted with children from each community portraying the essence of a single ‘value’ that they felt was essential for humane existence.
The survival-songs and dances revolved around dialogues on peace and harmony, caring and sharing, courage and wisdom, rights and responsibilities as members of an integrated community
Entertainment today influenced by social media, television, Bollywood forms of dance and Hollywood forms of super men and women, has lost the essentially ingrained flavor of our folk forms of art and expression.
Jaanapada, or the wise word spoken by people and for people since ancient days, passed down from generations has now become the forgotten word.
Reviving the wealth of heritage art, and culture, especially through folklore and other folk forms, the children and youth celebrated Jaanapada Jhainkara. (folk music, resonating sound)
The Victory of Good over Evil
Our culture abounds with mythological stories that goad civilization to be righteous and conquer evil. In a simple yet powerfully performed drama written to celebrate the Dasara vacations, a ten headed monster depicting the evils that are swallowing us is replaced as each pot reflecting one evil head is replaced with another pot head depicting a good value.
The actual breaking of these pots and feeling a sense of goodness spread was palpable throughout out the process of this program capsule.
Jeevanotsava has stood for establishing the rights of the poor, the responsibilities we all have, the values we must all have, and ultimately be the change we want to see.
Trapped within each child or youth is potential energy waiting to be unleashed. Without the right platform they often become misdirected, at times also leading to abuse and violence at homes and a perfect release has been through sports. For us sports have gone beyond laughter and gains which it primarily promotes, but also to team camaraderie, discipline and dedication and overall wellness including mindfulness.
Sports has indeed been used very innovatively in DRIK Jeevanotsava to link rural development with the Gandhian principles reflected in Hind Swaraj, to our traditional village games, and the soul and spirit of wellness that prevailed in the rural communities when games like kabbadi, or seven tiles etc excited children and youth alike encouraging healthy competitions and united village activities. Promoting such events did bridge the gap between the rural and urban segments also.
Sports has also given livelihood opportunities to some of our youth who pursued the different chances that were given especially in the field of swimming, tennis. athletics etc.
Teaching children yoga to create calm and strong minds,and to inculcate meditative spaces in their otherwise torn lives has also been part of all our efforts.
Bringing alive children, women and youth's aspirations and to help them to get closer to their dreams for better livelihoods, we have created platforms for skills development on various fronts that could lead them towards self employment or jobs in performing art including dance, music, theater, music instruments etc, art and craft, computers, social entrepreneurship,and other business, accounting, management skills etc. thus instilling self-confidence and self-awareness and livelihood opportunities.
Another area of skills development included exposure to various sport that led to youth becoming swimming, tennis, and other coaches earning good incomes.Other areas where they found jobs include for example: terracotta, computer techs, retail trade, driving skills, beauticians, product designers, tailoring and embroidery, trade and marketing, etc. All these have been achieved primarily through education beyond schooling, and through the Jeevanotsava platforms.
DRIK Jeevanotsava at Government Schools and Communities
The spread of the DRIK Jeevanotsava programs into over 60 government schools and communities has helped network thousands of children into the value driven leadership develpoment activities in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with one community near Tiruvannamalia in Tamilnadu also included.This has been the strength and wealth of many of our community development interventions. The JEEVATMA organizers are supported by RCF also. These children's lives are monitored and nurtured in the communities linkage programs until children begin leading peer groups in their colleges etc.
Take for instance Veena who recollected the incident when a group of eve teasers on the village road to their school constantly harrassed the young girls on the path, and having learnt of Abbakka's story of valour and courage the girls chose to fight for gender rights.
In another case the children of Doddaganahalli village kept planting trees even as the hundreds of goats there kept eating the plants in the surroundings. These children were aware enough to sustain their environment they would have to keep growing new plants and trees.
Children's Education Fund
Children's Education Fund, a community approved fund managed by the children with support from parents and DRIK members.
The prime objective of providing financial aid is to enable poor children to directly access the financial support provided by the Trust, take ownership of the financial aid, be involved in decision making and manage it by themselves and for themselves.
Children's Education Fund
Making A True Change
Over the years DRRT was confronted with requests from children in the slums and villages aspiring to pursue higher studies. These children included young blossoming minds nurturing dreams of becoming leaders and transforming the oppression faced by their families and their communities.
DRRT evolved a unique self managed education fund that belongs to the children themselves. DRIK Children’s Education Fund was launched to develop a sustainable educational empowerment model for the urban poor and rural communities.
DRIK CEF is based on self-empowerment and ownership which is managed by the children, supported by the parents and is a community approved fund.
Main Objective And Methodology
The management pattern being instituted into this fund is unique and pioneering because it is emerging out of a democratic process of discussion and decision making involving over hundreds of children and their parents.
Strategizing to incorporate the main objectives, DRRT and AVAS teams have been periodically meeting with all the children and their parents.
Successes Thus far
The success of this model has been emulated and is gaining recognition as a sustainable model that is solely managed by the children.
Over hundreds of children have found a new opportunity to continue their studies.
The number of dropouts at 7th std level has reduced dramatically since its launch.
Poor families have financial support to help their children with educational continuity without external borrowing and oppressive debt recovery.
It has enhanced skill development and increased employment opportunities.
The most purposeful outcome is the development of leadership, self confidence and trust in themselves to sustain the empowerment of education and learning within their communities.
While there are many challenges in the effective implementation of DRIK-CEF, the efforts till date of bringing children and communities together on this common vision and enabling decision making process have been enriching.
The emergence of this pioneering model has shown the way for a sustainable and empowering outcome with hundreds of children having a promise for a better future
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