Choices and Choices
A depiction of children by children
Is the world flat? Celebrated journalist and Pulitzer prize-winning author, Thomas Friedman would like to believe so, though the reality we see around us present a very different story where people seldom get similar opportunities to live their lives.
Poverty, a raging demon, denies people even the most basic ingredients of existence, making a mockery of human life. Its worst effects are a gradual emaciation of the adult’s personality and a stubborn resistance to nourishment and growth in case of children. Today’s children are future citizens. While the body can perhaps manage to exist undernourished, what can be more tragic than the human spirit being ruthlessly stabbed at every step?
Real value in any society inheres in the potential of its children. We face a choice: be callous about them and poverty drags our future into criminality, delinquency; or step forward and protect our future, water the saplings and usher in a tomorrow worth living. Talent, the Divine signature on creation, is present beyond the confines of class and caste distinctions.
Kolkata Sukriti Foundation takes up the challenge to search out real talent among children and adolescents whose lives are otherwise buried in squalor and abject poverty. Sukriti Foundation provides a creative platform where gifted children develop their potential. Celebrated artists have come forward to help and this make a difference. All of them come from under-privileged background and most have parents or primary caretakers who can hardly make both ends meet. Some of them are disabled, by birth or from accidents. Some hail from unconventional family structures. In a legitimate space of artistic discipline and innovation these children and adolescents develop team spirit, self and group reliance along with learning their craft. Active participation in activities like dancing, drawing and painting, recitation and rockclimbing bring them face-to-face with their own potential thus becoming paths of personality development. This is because these are designed specifically keeping in mind their life conditions.
For instance the lyrics of the songs they sing and dance are very relevant to their real locus in society, being simple in language, relatable and greatly empowering. No magic is expected to turn the tide in their favour. Instead it is all about ‘making’ their own future by taking care of their present. The subjects of drawing and painting reflect the banes of their lives as well as the robustness of Spirit that can conquer all darkness. Opportunities of such creative expressions instill confidence in the children, enabling them to rise above their individual and collective shortcomings. Instead of nursing grievances against the society that alienates them, they feel they can achieve on their own, create their own future. This actively contributes to strengthening their place in the world as they become strong enough to fight off the stigma of being ‘invisible’ to and ‘unworthy’ of the society. The ‘sky’ that was proverbially closed to them ‘open up’, breaking down the walls that separate such children from the world of the privileged-by-birth.
Natural culminations are the subsequent dance performances, art competitions, exhibitions and trekking expeditions where they rise above their physical and circumstantial limitations to manifest the talent within.