Photo Essay - Art Based Therapy - Nurturing Expression, Healing Minds
Large parts of the Bastar region in Indian state of Chhattisgarh, have been affected by a violent civil strife. Caught in the cross-fire, thousands of children either orphaned or separated are now growing up ashramshalas.
UNICEF and Metamorhphosis are working alongside the District Administration to ensure that these ashramshalas are child friendly spaces which offer a protective environment for the children to grow up.
Credit for Pictures and Text: Metamorphosis and UNICEF
Away from Home, Friends and Family …
Since 2006, large parts of the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, have been affected by a violent civil strife. Caught in the cross-fire, thousands of villagers have been displaced and their children either orphaned or separated from families.
Hundreds of these children are now growing up ashramshalas; residential schools meant to operate as ‘Zones of Peace’; so that their rights are safeguarded and they are able to regain some sense of normalcy in the formative years.
UNICEF and NGO partners are working alongside the District Administration to ensure that these ashramshalas are child friendly spaces which offer a protective environment for the children to grow up.
Need for an Environment that Protects and Nurtures
Given the prevailing situation of violence and separation from family, children growing up ashramshalas like Dornapal, Konda, Injiram and Errabore are in need of care and support.
Regular assessments have indicated the need for interventions that can play a role in healing the negative impact of fear and trauma faced by the young minds at an impressionable age.
The Healing Touch …
In Aug 2010, UNICEF alongside the State Government and with the help of Metamorphosis Film Junction introduced Art Based Therapy (ABT) in 4 ashramshalas.
ABT is a psychosocial intervention designed to provide a safe, creative, aesthetic and enjoyable means through which children can “find a voice” and lead to a more holistic development.
Enabling Self Expression
Using tools like Painting, Sketching, Music, Drama and Photography in a therapeutic context, the Art Based Communication approaches are designed to create an atmosphere where children are able to express themselves freely.
Using Painting, Sketching, Music and Drama as Therapy
Art Based Therapy is cathartic, in an aesthetic, non-threatening and voluntary way. It allows children to express desires and tell stories, that otherwise would have been difficult to voice.
In the last 24 months, a recurring theme in the children’s sketches and paintings has been the desire to reconnect with their homes and families
Catharsis: Expressing Fear and Finding Ways to Cope With It
Illustrations of armed men, helicopters and guns are frequently seen in the children’s artworks. Few of the illustrations quite dramatically demonstrate incidents of violence or fear that the children might have suffered from in the past or been witness to.
The left hand side illustration is a comic strip made by Soyam Naresh (from Konta ashramshala) titled The Story of the Gun. It clearly depicts the disturbing meaninglessness of violence that most children in this region are exposed to
Freeze Frame: Camera as a Tool for Empowerment
Introduction to Photography and the basics of camera handling has resulted in children overcoming their initial shyness and capturing the essence of life in ashramshalas, as they perceive it.
However, the larger objective was to enable children to explore a new medium and thereby express their creativity and give flight to their imagination.
Performance and Exhibition to Instill a sense of Self Confidence
Exhibition of talent and performance is a way for children to share their experiences. The confidence and self-worth that children feel after a performance, is a very important part of the therapeutic process.
In the last one and half years, we have seen that by creating an atmosphere where having fun has been legitimized through play, games and performance, definitely results in reduction of stress in the ashramshala.
The Change Makers
Another key component of the program has been to work with local youth and train them to become sensitive development practitioners.
As a part of this, Metamorphosis has a six-member team who come from the Sukma region of Chhattisgarh and represent the different communities present there.
The small but inspired team has undergone intensive training modules while continuously applying these new skills in their work with the children.
UNICEF’s Country Country Representative’s Visit to Dornapal, Chhattisgarh
In her visit to Dornapal ashramshala¸UNICEF’s former Country Representative Ms Karin Hulshof remarked that the children has left her ‘inspired’