Documentary, puppetry draw attention to marginalised senior citizens and street children

“Who will take care of me?” was the anguished plea of a wrinkled woman. “Where am I to go?” was the powerless cry of a girl stranded on the street. Though set apart by ages, old age home inmates and street children are both helpless and neglected, a fact that came across strongly through a documentary and puppetry at the state-level cultural meet exclusively for social work students organised by Bishop Heber College.

Organised by the postgraduate and research department of social work, ‘Catharsis 2012’ saw 400 prospective social workers from 13 colleges in the State bring a young perspective to contemporary social issues.

Students were conscious in talking about issues not in the abstract but in specific in refreshing portrayals in 18 theme-based events.

The winning entries of the documentary contest on ‘old age’ drew the spotlight on familiar faces in the city that one may pass by without a second thought - the old man shrivelled up at the bus stand or the frail woman hunched up near a church.

The camera followed them capturing how society treats its elderly population, their meaningless routines at old age homes, their struggle to accomplish simple tasks like mounting two steps to open a door and the feeling of loneliness despite living together.

Colourful puppets told the tale of how children orphaned, driven by alcoholism at home or estranged by accident, end up making the roads their home.

A child’s plight that ‘there is no one to look after me’, becomes an excuse to be exploited, beaten up, molested and pushed into criminal activity.

Children who run away to escape hellish life at home often fall into a more vicious trap, was the recurrent theme. Among other events scheduled for two days, ‘free association’ saw students take on satirical, witty and irreverent takes on subjects of contemporary relevance like stress, corporate culture and impact of gaming.

Students explored themes like corruption, criminal activity, pollution and water scarcity through poster presentation, mime, photography and collage.

While song and choreography ran the whole gamut of social issues, a quiz and dumb charades touched upon activists, scams and issues in the news.

Earlier, Senthil Kumar Gopalan, managing trustee, PAYIR Trust, inaugurated the event. A.Relton, head of department, was the convenor.