Traumatised kids put past behind at city workshop

Traumatised kids put past behind at city workshop

A cultural performance by 42 youngsters who were victims of communal violence.

Shwetha Rawal from Ahmedabad was just a 3-year-old when her father went missing after the Godhra riots. She broke down while narrating the story of her father, but seemed relieved after speaking about her education and career. 

Shwetha proudly says, “I’m the only girl among the many boys at my engineering college who got a placement in a private company. I want to set an example for girls to take up civil engineering which has always been dominated by boys.”

Many like Shwetha, traumatised by conflict arrived in Bengaluru for a special session - a workshop at the Art of Living Centre. They had the opportunity to interact with other children with similar stories. 

“I didn’t know that we could actually be happy as well in life,” says another member in the group.  These are some of the most heart-wrenching words from youngsters, who are struggling to leave behind the mental trauma from terrorism, communal, ethnic and Naxal uprisings. Some of them have even witnessed the killing of their parents.

Pooja Bhuyan from Assam was just three months old when her father was killed by Ulfa militants.  She too got emotional narrating how her mother managed to take care of her, running a hardware shop in her father’s absence.  Now a graduate, Pooja works in a private company in Gauhati.

Sabrina Yusuf and Ikra Fayaz from the conflict-torn Ananthnag in Jammu and Kashmir have just cleared their Class 12 exam.  “My father was a political leader and he was shot by the militants when I was in nursery school. My mother had to struggle to raise me and my siblings,” says Sabrina.   

“My father was kidnapped by militants when I was just 2 years old and till date I have not seen my father’s photo. My mother even searches for him today,” recalls Ikra. The girls, however, wish to become IAS or IPS officers one day.

Twenty-one-year old Brighter Basnatary from Kokrajhar district in Assam is a victim of ethnic violence.  He was just a year old when he lost his father, who was shot by the militants. 

Coordinators who brought the children to Bengaluru say many of the children have  never been out of their villages. It is their first trip outside their small worlds.