When we discover that our little moppets are good at anything, be it music, dance or drawing, we rush about as if our tail's on fire, trying to find a suitable teacher/class to train 'em. Thus begins the endless journey of moms to and from art, music and dance classes with their bewildered wards in tow! So frenzied is the desire to give wings to their fledgeling 'dreams' that we sometimes put extra pressure upon their shoulders to realise these 'dreams'. We drive them to these classes in the hope that they will find their true calling and realise their dreams. However, there are a group of children, and let me tell you, they are the majority of our children for whom a dream means the hazy visions they see while asleep! Art music and dance classes are a luxury their parents cannot afford, they have to make do with some elementary education, a far cry from the 'holistic', 'all-round' education with a liberal dose of extra curricular activities which private schools offer to the people who have the resources.In this scenario comes a voluntary organisation created by my friend Reena Choudhury whose motto it is to bring out the dormant 'dreams' of these underprivileged kids and encourage them to articulate them through art, music and other fun activities. The 'Dream a Little Dream' initiative is unique and one of its kind and I was lucky to be involved in its 6th Art camp held at Bosco Mane, in Bangalore on Sunday 26th December.
When the 180 or so children were asked 'when do you dream?' they promptly said, 'at night'!! That 'dreams' may mean future hopes and aspirations, was a revelation to them. As soon as they are asked to make a drawing showing their dreams, they begin to draw the trees and little triangular roofed houses which they are taught in drawing class at their schools. Out of the 20 children aged 8years in the group which I was assigned to, only 3or 4kids understood what we were talking about. One little girl had begun with the customary triangle roof house when I tried to explain to her what was required, I asked 'what do you like to do best?' she answered meekly that she liked to stay at home! I showed her how to draw the inside of the house and gave her ideas about what else she could put in there, I even drew some stuff on a piece of paper for her and helped her rub the house. After all this, at the end of the session, I found that she has redrawn the same house again and had made a pre-learnt scene....ah well, thought I, at least she has shown some determination. At the end of an hour, there were a few policemen, 2 space rockets, a few clowns and even a butterfly and a mermaid! There was a scruffy little fellow who was staring uncertainly at his paper, I really had the urge to wash his face and blow his nose for him and also oil his hair and comb it for good measure, but I restrained myself for fear of hurting his pride! Anyhow, I explained that this was no ordinary drawing he has to make, but a very special one. I asked him to breathe deeply and close his eyes, he obeyed, then I said, think of what you really like to do, he thought. Then suitably enlightened, he began drawing, he made a huge grotesque figure, but coloured it nicely. What's that?I made some people ask him ( I do not understand Kannada too well), there were 2 versions of what he answered, one boy reported that he'd made a monster and another held that it was a doll!! After drawing we went for group photographs after which the kids went for lunch. The post lunch session had an interesting drumming demo and an entertaining magic show. The children were very responsive to the demonstration on the African type drum. Most of the kids react spontaneously to music, many were breaking into a jig from time to time to the music that played constantly in the background. The other programme was a magic show which had the kids and volunteers glued to the spot around the stage, wide eyed. Tea time was organised like a birthday party with cold drink and snack boxes after the magic show. I slipped out after tea but I got the sense that an exciting dance session was about to begin after the snacks. My friend and founder of the 'Dream a Little Dream' project, Reena informed me later that the kids and the young volunteers who'd come from some colleges had a wild and crazy dance session after tea with lots of bursting of balloons and joyous abandon. I regretted having to leave when I did ( because my mite was down with an eye infection and I had promised him I'd be back by 5), the kids' faces and their earnestness and joy kept swimming before my eyes. I am thankful to my dear friend Reena for making me a part of such a thoughful and fulfilling project.