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Colour in their lives

NITHYA SIVASHANKAR
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Event Ashik Jaffer Ali conducts art workshops for under-privileged children

“R avi Varma group inge vaanga,” shouts Shanti miss, a teacher at Families For Children (FFC), Podanur. A group of kids rush to her and wait for Ashik akka to give them balloons. Some kids blow big balloons, while the smaller ones puff their cheeks in vain. Soon, 70 odd children, gathered in the playground, have balloons tied to their waists. When Ashik shouts “Ready!” the children scatter and try popping balloons tied around each other' waists.

“This was just a warm-up ,” says Ashik Jaffer Ali, an architect by profession, who will now get on with the ‘Art for All' workshop. The project aims to introduce art to under-privileged children, who would otherwise not be exposed to it. The children run excitedly to the rooms, where their art materials are waiting for them. They are split into two batches of five groups (“Every group is named after an artist,” says Ashik). “We are going to do grain art today,” she announces to the kids. We measure out urad dal, green gram, ragi and yellow gram into disposable cups and distribute them to the kids. Ashik explains, “You may draw whatever you want on your work sheets, put glue over your drawings and stick pulses on them.” The children exchange grins and ideas. Reshma tells me she will draw a butterfly, while chirpy Rahul says he has a beautiful house on his mind. Vimala borrows a bangle from her teacher and tells me, “I am not going to tell you what I am going to draw. You wait and see.”

In the meanwhile the other groups are instructed to sketch scenes from stories. “We had a story telling session last week. Every group came up with a story and today, they will be drawing scenes from the story. Their images will tell a tale at the end of today's session,” remarks Ashik.

Naveen is busy with his drawing. “Akka, I will finish drawing the shark and then tell you the story,” he says. Viji, who is excited about drawing a dog, sweetly tells the tale of a faithful dog. Some kids hum as they draw. Some others like little Chinna, sit next to volunteers and allow them to do their paintings!

At the end of one and half hours, the kids and their worksheets are ready. The teachers smile at the houses, mountains, trees and flowers that the kids have drawn. Vimala has filled her worksheet with yellow-gram-laden sun flowers! In the other room, the children, armed with their paintings, are waiting to tell their stories to Ashik akka. We listen to tales about the hungry fox and a visit to the zoo.

“Tomorrow is hay art,” says Ashik. While the children gulp down cold juice, she says there are more workshops in store. “We will also have fabric art, newspaper art, paper mache, story illustration and clay art sessions. I hope I can hold more such sessions in other places too,” she says. As we leave, the children ask, “ Akka, will you come back again tomorrow?”

The ‘Art for All' initiative requires the support of volunteers and donors. Donation of art and craft materials will be appreciated.

Art-teachers willing to teach any form of art to these children are invited to be a part of the workshop too. For details, contact Ashik at 95009-27790

NITHYA SIVASHANKAR

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