Introduction to Dantewada
Creativity in times of Conflict
Every year schools in India celebrate Children’s Day on the 14 of November. Children in Dornapal celebrated 14 children’s days in a row this year.
What makes Dornapal and its 3,000 children so special? First about the place and then about the children.
Dornapal district in the newly created state of Chattisgarh is 416 kms away from the state capital Raipur . It is where the east (Orissa) meets west (Maharashtra). It is also where north (Chattisgarh) meets south (Andhra Pradesh). But that is not why Dornapal is known.
This tribal village in southern Bastar region, heavily guarded by the Central Reserve Police Force and the locally raised special security force is in the vortex of a civil conflict. Dornapal transit camp is home to 17,000 people uprooted under a government supported peace initiative.
Adults wage war but children pay the price. For 3,000 children confined to the camps in Dornapal, freedom is limited to the four walls of the well guarded residential school complex. These are children uprooted from their villages because of the states conflict with extreme left wing groups.
UNICEF and the District administration first addressed the sanitation needs of the camp. Water tanks and toilets are in place in adequate numbers. UNICEF also supports health and education issues in the camp. Separate weather proof tents have been put to serve as individual class rooms. Learning materials and accessories have been supplied.
To mark Children’s Day this year UNICEF and district administration announced a child participation fortnight and four major child participation resource groups moved into the camp. These were:
• Gatividhi from Patna who conducted a Meena film festival, where children watched and critically reviewed the girl child centric films and created Meena muppets theatre of their own.
• World Comics from Delhi whose comics workshop enabled about 100 children to make their own comics and display them.
The activities began with children creating their own space by erecting special tents for creativity in the camp.
What followed was a festival of Meena films. 3000 children in groups of 40 watched all the 14 Meena films, deliberated on each story in the light of their own lives.
The evenings belonged to Rudyard Kipling as the children and the neighboring community watched all 21 episodes of Jungle Book.
Meena, the twelve year old animation icon will continue to live with them as the intensive muppet theatre workshop has enabled them to stage a Meena play at will. Jyoti a tribal student plays Meena and B. Priyanka, Mithu the parrot.
The first Children’s Newspaper in Dornapal
Let’s draw our world
Meena comes to Dornapal