LIFE

Life's misery through the eyes of children

Children from Adi Dravidar welfare schools at the cultural competition organised in Chennai on Monday.

Children from Adi Dravidar welfare schools at the cultural competition organised in Chennai on Monday.  

Some of the incidents occurred years ago but the images left behind are still fresh in their minds.

POVERTY, ALCOHOLISM and discrimination - they have seen it all. While most of us have watched these being portrayed in films and tele-serials with kitsch storylines, these children have endured much of it early in their lives.

Twentysix students from Adi Dravidar Welfare Schools in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts were in Chennai for a cultural competition to mark a decade of United Nations' Human Rights Education programme.

Human Rights has been included in the curriculum of these welfare schools since 1995.

And on Monday, their knowledge on the subject was put to test at the competition organised by the Institute of Human Rights Education.

Some of the children had been a witness to traumatic and often violent incidents, like the 10-year-old girl who saw a woman toss her newborn girl into the dustbin; a boy who saw a man being beaten up by a cop; a child who was witness to a beggar being trussed to the tree and thrashed by a wealthy man.

A child from Tiruvallur, narrated in tears, as to how she was discriminated against by government officials at an inter-school sports event.

The official had favoured a panchayat union leader's son because it would help get more funds for the local school.

Their songs, sketches and skits depicting real-life instances said it all — some of the incidents occurred years ago but the images left behind are still fresh in their minds.

And it required a bit of prodding from non-government organisation, People's Watch, and the schoolteachers to provide a shape to their experiences.

Each participant was given five minutes to convey his/her message.

But for some children, the time was too little to convey the underlying message that reality is too harsh to be ignored.

Amidst the gloom, there was also an occasional ray of hope, especially for a boy, who used to be regularly beaten up by his drunken father.

When the son displayed the effect of alcohol on an earthworm, the father gave up his drinking. So did the beating. His mother too is a happy woman now.

Similar daylong contests will be held in five zones. Winners will participate in a State-level contest to be held in the city next month.

The jury included a journalist, a musician, a puppeteer and theatre artists.

By R. Sujatha

Photo: R. Ragu

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