Realising and recreating dreams

Art therapy

Thirteen-year-old Anjali (name changed) from Kolkata was rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and is now residing in Mukti Ashram with many of her friends. “I know friends who have faced terrible misfortunes. They have been wrongly treated by bad men. My dream is to become a lawyer so I can stand up for them,” says Anjali.

Thirty such children were rescued on June 18 and many of them had scars all over their hands which were acquired during cutting and welding steel wires. “These children, from 12 to 15 years, were bonded labourers who were paid nothing and were made to made paint steel netting with their bare hands,” says Rakesh Senger, project director at BBA.

The child rights NGO has joined hands with Hearts of the World (HoW), a New York City-based organisation, that travels the globe inviting young people to imagine the greatest dream of their lives and paint it inside a heart outline.

Now Anjali has made a painting of a heart with a bee inside. Why a bee, is  something she is not able to explain. The project titled ‘Dream exploration workshop’ looks at art as a therapy. And through this initiative HoW is planning to offer a ray of hope and an outlet to these children, who have faced hardships very early in their lives, to vent out their traumatic experiences.

The programme aims to recreate dreams of the children rescued from child slavery, on paper. Most of the children worked for 16 hours a day, from morning 11 am to late night 3 am.

Aditi Kaul, a counselling psychologist at the Fortis Hospital, says, “Research has proven that music and art help in improving depression and anxiety. Children with a tormented past or children in general find it hard to express their emotions. In such a case a scribble on a paper or music of a certain kind for their ears is therapeutic and helps them to get empowered and feel more independent.”

She explains to Metrolife that these children are more likely to be afraid of being singled out. “Once exposed to some art activities, they are bound to feel relaxed as they would know where to go and what to do to let out their inner feelings and, for this, they don’t even have to depend on strangers for a shoulder.”

Paint our Worlds (POW) is another organisation that has organised dance movement therapy for these underprivileged children.Priya Virmani, founder of POW says, “This includes everything from story-telling, to dance, to music, to artwork. Alongside this, activity therapies aid children in learning trust, care and other interpersonal skills. These methods have been clinically measured to improve children’s self esteem, focus and key skills, allowing them to look forward to a better future.”

After a collective birthday party organised by POW for some orphans in Delhi, where all the children danced to different tunes in a manic state, a 10-year-old child went up to one of the volunteers and said, “I had never dreamed I could ever have so much fun”.

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