It was an interesting week in Guniya Lekh getting to know the kids and seeing the sometimes suspicion, sometimes curiosity, sometimes warm welcome from the various villagers. The first day, we learned that the parents were reluctant to send their kids to our activities. Devaki (a potential staff member) has helped with that; she is wonderful and gives good energy to the kids and the activities.
Smriti (visual artist) came all the way from Himachal to look at the site and meet the kids. Smriti taught the kids some basic drawing techniques – apples were the focus of the first day. They also each sang a song or recited a poem in our “introductions” circle. The kids did a little yoga, danced, and played.
The kids’ imaginations have not been developed much. If they are presented with a blank sheet and colours they want to know what they are to draw or preferably copy rather than think of something. Smriti and I downloaded a bunch of murals other schools have done to show them and spark their thinking/imagination. It was great fun to see their excitement and also watch which ones they were most attracted to and wanted to model their own after.
Smriti’s husband Himanshu accompanied her. He works with kids and women in Himachal to find ways to recycle and keep the forests and rivers and villages clean. He talked to Sanjay (the pradhan) about collecting plastic wrappers to make chettais. Sanjay will hold a meeting for the women in the village to see if there is interest. If there is, Smriti can train them. Devaki knows how to make them and will do a smaller version with the kids as a craft project.
We ended up talking to a father of one of the kids. He had stopped his daughter from coming to our activities the second day (she needed to get water) and she started crying so he let her go. When we stopped for chai at a village, he chatted with the chaiwala about what we were doing. He and the chaiwala expressed how little opportunity there is for kids and how grateful they were that something “from outside” had come.