Tuesday, April 14, 2020

My Journey with Tribal Girls of Andhra Pradesh

Last year, after taking a long break of 3 months, when I re-started Anubhuti's journey of sharing Love and Happiness among the girls of remote rural and tribal communities of the country, I reached to a village named 'Kadiri' in Ananthpur District of Andhra Pradesh. The girls I worked with, belonged to 'Tada Tribe' and came from most vulnerable backgrounds and were mostly orphans or semi-orphans. Also, there were some girls who themselves or their family members have been victims of human-trafficking.

In the beginning, I was worried whether would I be able to communicate with the girls or make a connect with them, because the Language was a huge barrier between us (as they only knew Telugu Language). But it had just been two days when I met these girls and started sharing the art of Kathak with them, but in spite of having a huge language gap with them, it was so encouraging for me to see their enthusiasm to learn and explore a completely new art form which will surely gonna help them to expand their horizons and boost their confidence up! 

Initially, for 3-4 days, it was a bit difficult, I took help of a local person from the organisation who used to translate between me and kids. But somewhere inside, I wasn't feeling connected with the translation process, it was becoming so mechanical which was also breaking the flow of the class. But later on, I was able to find two girls from both the groups, who understand English. So I decided to take their help in translation. I found that, in the process, those two girls were also moving towards enhancing their skills of understanding English along with helping me. And the way they translated in Telugu, rest of the girls were really enjoying it. This is how, we were able to understand each other without breaking the flow of the class as the language challenge became fun for all of us, which helped us to stay connected. 😍

Meet Gowthami ..

In the group, there was an 11 year old girl, 'Gowthami', when she first joined the workshop, I could clearly see the shyness and hesitation on her face. I used to give her a smile but she didn't respond on that. She used to sit quietly and stand in the last line during sessions. But the same Gowthami, after about 2 weeks, started leading the class with a great confidence and other than just leading a session, she used to encourage, motivate and correct her classmates. She was the one who became super active in the class and started taking initiatives in each and every activity in the workshop.

With time, all the girls got engrossed deeply in the process. Where on one side, in the beginning, it was a bit difficult and confusing to learn or pronounce the syllables of Dance or any Shloka which was in Sanskrit Language, on the other side, by the end of the second week, Kadiri Girls were becoming more self-disciplined and started finding their own ways to learn which suited them best. I feel, it is just a matter of little concentration and encouragement which we all need to achieve anything!

An evening in Bathalapalli ..

It happens when you explore the un-explored. It was (almost) a surprise visit in the village (Bathalapalli Thanda) of my girls. It was so overwhelming to receive such Love and affection from each and everyone present there. I was there with them for about 2 hours in which I visited each girl's home, their local temples and a lovely walk in the village with my girls which was being joined by other kids of the village as well! 🙂 It was indeed a one of the beautiful thing to meet their parents, talking to them and just be in their surroundings. Although I wasn't understanding even a single word said by them, but I could clearly see and feel their excitement and happiness in their sparkling eyes. They were so deeply grateful for the things their kids were learning, and so was I.

The End or The Beginning ..

It's always been difficult for me to explain the concluding day of the workshop in words. The kids were looking so pretty in the Kathak Attire with heavy gajra in their hairs. The program went so well. I was happy to see that almost each kid's parents attended the program. After sharing their learnings in the field of Kathak and in Life-Skills on stage, It was so so heartwarming for me to bid goodbye to my kids while they had already stared crying. We were hugging each other, sharing chocolates with each others and more on that, I felt that we all were sharing a deep silence within. And that was the moment, when I 'experienced' that you don't really need a 'Language' to understand the other person, if you are really got connected by Hearts. 💕 

I always use these terms 'last day', 'concluding day' ..but I believe that every Ending brings a New Beginning, and the ending of this workshop (which was just another medium to plant a seed of life skills) was a new beginning for them where they took a step forward to feel more confident for themselves and find their happiness while sharing it with others.

On the concluding day of the workshop, Cheruvu Bhanuja Garu (Founder, REDS) shared :

" People pay money to learn Kathak Dance. On the other hand, Annu Gupta gave her Govt. job and gave free classes in Kathak to under-served children in HP, Orrisa and other places. When Kishore Nath garu told me about this, I felt these children of single women from different villages need to learn it. The parents got together arranged to send children by auto to the Kathak workshop for 20 days. Annu ma'am does not know the local language, but through action and with the help of children in the class who knew English who in turn translated it to Telugu - she conducted the workshop."

Rotary Club President Dr. Madan Kumar shared :

" I am very impressed that Annu Madam from a far off place is coming to an unknown small place like Kadiri and teaching the children. She is not from our place, nor from our state. She does not know our language and yet comes and shows her love for our children. It cannot be expressed in words. This is a good idea of getting children together, training them and giving a program. The program was very good." 

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