Day 18- 27th June
After the meeting yesterday, we were on our way ready to have fun! We reacher earlier today as the excecutive board meeting was scheduled for 12 noon. The members present at the meeting were Gangadhar, Gayathri teacher, Shakil, Devi, Rushabh, Sukanya (who we met for the first time- Part of Indian express, executive board member and Shakil’s friend) and us. We were only listening for most of the meeting. At the end of the meeting we asked them for the thoughts and reactions to our 2 weeks with them. It was nice to hear form all of them that they appreciate our work and would also like to talk to us about future projects. Shakil said that it was one of the policies of Parivartan that for all volunteers and staff the learning should be mutual between the children and volunteers. He said that we had followed with this policy and I completely agree that the learning has been mutual. Towards the end of the meeting all the kids arrived and sat quietly along the other side of the class that we sat. When we were done with our meeting all the members of Parivartan stayed to watch the children perform. It was their first experience performing without us guiding them. Zohar, Juhi and I stepped back and let the children run through their play. I felt SO proud of them! It was their very first time and they did a wonderful job. Everyone knew their respective roles and went through it beautifully. I was really happy. It was nice to see that Shakil was also really happy with the performance as he clicked some pictures. After the first run through, we decided to add another scene about ‘cleanliness’ hoping to get all the little kids to act it out and thus give them a role. It was really hard getting this organized. Saif Ali, the big kid, came today and he really wanted to be a part of the play but unfortunately he has to go to the municipal school on Monday and so we could not give him a proper role. Shoaib did an amazing job. He told us today that he had passed his 10th standard and gave us all sweets! He had told me the first day I met him which was also my first day at Wadala that he was here on a job as Gangadhar’s assistant. He was the one who had guided us through the community and led us from one place to another. We asked him to say a few words to help conclude the play. He did a great job improvising. After that we had our little dance party again! I wasn’t really in the mood to dance and kept sitting down a few times until when Asheep actually came to me and called me to dance! I was so happy to see the change in him. He was back to his original self the first few days that we had seen him. After dancing and also being flung onto the floor by Shoaib, which was quite hilarious, we had a photo shoot during recess. Ahmed suddenly appeared wearing his raincoat and looked as adorable as ever! We took many pictures and kept getting jumped on by all the kids. At this time, Heena was on my back and I was just talking to her casually when she said something about me coming everyday. I told her that Monday would be the last day that I was going to come. Then she said that if I don’t come there then she too would stop coming. This really disturbed me. I really hope this doesn’t happen. I really don’t the kids to stop coming because of us not being there. I really think we should talk to them about this and I also hope to visit them even after Monday. When the kids got back from recess, we took them out to the street for an actual run through. This did not go well at all. The kids were really scared, most of the boys were all over the place running around. Some were shy, some just seemed really happy being able to run around and some just seemed lost. The crowd that gathered to watch was quite large but they did not really seem to understand what was happening. They all stared and none of them clapped even when the kids were clapping after each scene. The circle the kids made was quite small and so no one could really see what was happening. Just one man came up to us and asked if we were doing a survey. When we said that this wasn’t for any survey he just assumed that it was for entertainment. I really wanted to tell him that this for awareness and to help change and develop the community. However, I couldn’t bring myself to put it into words and did not say anything. After the performance, which the kids didn’t even end properly, we went back to the centre. There we all sat down in a circle and decoded to reflect on the performance. Most of the kids were sating that they were scared and that they did not perform well. Even Gayathri teacher was shouting at all the kids. The three of us did not shout at all. the way the kids had acted was completely justified. It was the first time they were being made to perform something all by themselves out in the open. There were some people they recognized outside and most other were strangers. I’m sure they felt very uncomfortable and the fact that they even went through the whole play, although shabbily was a great achievement. Sahil, the boy who played the role of a drunken father was the only one who had played his role very badly compared to usual. He kept laughing and just said all his dialogues softly and without any expression. The rest of the kids as well as Gayathri teacher were shouting at him while he was really quiet. We called him close to us and spoke to him. We asked him how he felt when he acted the role outside. He said he felt shy and he would not like to do it in front of the public, as there were people he knew. He also said he would never do it in front of his parents. He said that he was comfortable and would do it well inside but he was not sure he’ll do it well outside. We told him that he has the courage and was a very good actor and that the point of this play is to show everyone outside what is really happening. He agreed to do it on Monday but said he doesn’t now if he’ll do it well or not. The older girls, Parveen and Aisha, were very scared at first to perform outside but they did a great job and seemed to look more confident inside. I even heard Parveen say to another kid that she was never scared. After this we let Gaythri teacher teach the class since we had used most of their time today. As she taught them the three of us just sat at the back of the class. After a while we just decide to leave early. Juhi was exhausted and I also felt we were only being a distraction by sitting there. While saying bye I noticed that Heena was not talking to me at all. That’s all I’ve been thinking about the rest of the day.