‘Help Delhi Breathe’ – Journals and Audio-visual Film on Delhi’s Environment
In two volumes, ‘Help Delhi Breathe’ brings to the fore, problems that afflict the environment of Delhi. The journals contain articles on environmental issues, facts and figures about the state of land, water and air in the city. They also give tips on how to improve the situation and contact details of environmental organisations. Nearly 10,000 copies of the two journals were printed and distributed all over Delhi through retail outlets and book stores. The funds raised from its sales were disbursed to NGOs that work with environmental projects. Many schools used the journal as part of their curriculum for their environment programme.
Under the Awareness initiatives, Youthreach Spirit was a programme which facilitated processes that created deeper reflection on the self, social reality and change. It created awareness on critical social issues through an exploration of mystic, philosophical, literary and creative thought and perspective. Besides seeking to engage young people in participating with social change, it gave young artists an opportunity to express their creativity. Through the years, the Youthreach Spirit journeyed through many events – from films, photo exhibitions and music to meditation, workshops on art and craft to reach out to more than 10,000 people in Delhi:
In the past few years, Youthreach has screened films on environment in partnership with Sweccha, and other environment NGOs to celebrate World Environment Day. One of these films – ‘Jijivisha’ – evoked much interest as it wakes up Delhi to its dying source of water and emphasised that collective, voluntary initiatives can rejuvenate the Yamuna. We followed this up with Valentine Shipley singing river songs.
We also brought to the city’s India Habitat Centre films by Kim Ki Duk’s ‘Spring Summer Fall Winter’. The film is a mystical primer on Buddhist spirituality and an immensely absorbing story about the lessons of life that we all must grapple with, regardless of faith and culture.
(A) Youthreach collaborated with the India Habitat Centre and the Visual Arts Gallery to present an exhibition titled ‘Nobody’s Children? Myth / Reality’. The many moods of the children were captured by Tarun Chabra and curated by Gauri Gill. The objective of the exhibition was not to portray the children from pity but help perceive them with the dignity that they deserve in the middle of their hardships and their joys. As part of the fundraising initiative, 50 prints of the photographs were put on sales, proceeds from which were used to support health initiatives for children living on the platforms of the New Delhi Railway Station.
To celebrate the spirit of childhood and bring up issues around children living in tough circumstances, Youthreach held another exhibition of photos by leading photographers from the book ‘If I were rain’ at the India Habitat Centre. The photo exhibition was a fundraising initiative to support the ongoing programmes of Youthreach for the disadvantaged children in Delhi.
All this began after the birth of my daughter in 1998. I started comparing my daughter’s life with the lives of these children. When my child was fed every two hours, these children were struggling to get food twice a day… My soul was in a state of unrest and I simply could not ignore these differences. I started spending time with the children on the streets taking photographs that spanned different aspects of their life. One day at the station, an 8-year-old child asked me to photograph him. He said when he grew older and earned a lot of money, he would return home and show the photo to his mother and implore her to accept him as her son. That day I said a silent prayer.
After viewing this exhibition, I got in touch with Salam Baalak Trust and started volunteering. Now I am trying to create counselling and treatment facilities for drug abuse and other health problems of these children. – Alison Davenport
(B) ‘Alien Waters’ was a photo exhibition Youthreach organised in collaboration with Ravi Agrawal of Toxic Links at the IIC. The exhibition was a collection of photographs that captured the beautiful yet complex relationship between the self, the city and the Yamuna.
‘Being in Nature’ was one of the largest environment awareness campaigns that reached out to thousands of people. We collaborated with Dastakar to hold the 15-day event at Dilli Haat as the former offered us an ideal platform for people to introspect and express themselves through activities such as meditation, poetry, film screenings, discourses, music concerts and craft workshops on the theme of nature.
Festival of Consciousness
As part of our Youthreach Spirit programme, we organised the Festival of Consciousness which included a series of events such as film screenings, art, workshops, mime, music, dance, meditation and drama. The setting for the festival was an intimate one. Individuals hosted these experiences and events in their homes or places of work – in groups no larger than 40 to 50 people.
A glimpse of the events in the festival:
Films – ‘Children of Heaven’ and ‘The Silence’ by Majid Majidi and Mohsen Makhmalbaf that take you through a journey of love, sacrifice and compassion.
Meditation workshops – ‘Living in Awareness’, a workshop by Swami Satya Vedant from Osho World was held to show how meditative awareness helps in dealing with day-to-day pressures and stresses.
Theatre – Youthreach and First City Theatre Foundation presented selected readings from Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and other Animals’ at the Attic and India Habitat Centre.
Music – Suchet Malhotra gave a music performance with some intriguing instruments – lava flutes from Mexico, the native flute from North American Ojibway tribe, the fujara from Slovakia and also some created by him.
We have had Veda Lounge and Elite Models as our partners to celebrate Delhi’s environment, nature and trees and explore their relationship with man. Four leading fashion designers of India – Rohit Bal, JJ Valaya, Puja Nayyar and Varun Behl designed T-shirts on the theme of nature and ecology. The T-shirts were sold at Veda Lounge and the proceeds of the sale went towards supporting environment projects in the city.
In collaboration with Red Earth, we organised ‘Monsoon’ – a festival of art and musical performances. The highlight of the event was a contemporary jazz dance performed by 15 children from seven of our NGO partners.
AWARENESS AND FUND RAISING CAMPAIGN
Youthreach partnered with leading restaurants in Delhi to raise funds for disadvantaged children in the earthquake-affected areas of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan, and for health posts that Youthreach has implemented in Delhi.
The objective of the campaign – ‘A la Heart’ – was to motivate restaurants to donate a certain percentage of the billed amount to the cause that they chose to support. Leading restaurants like Chor Bizarre, Shalom Bar and Lounge, Laidback Waters, Olive Bar and Kitchen and Oriental Octopus donated a percentage of their sales for the cause of disadvantaged children.
Short Films (15mins, 7mins and 3mins)
Youthreach commissioned three short films that capture the spirit and work of the organisation. These films, screened at various events, have inspired a large number of people to come forward and create programmes that are close to their hearts. Altogether, the films enhance the visibility of Youthreach, bringing together people from all walks of life.
Youthreach has produced four 20-second animation films on civil society participation. Done creatively to provoke social action, the audience is directed to log on to the Youthreach website which provides easy-to-understand information on social issues, volunteer opportunities and links to other websites. The films have been screened in leading theatres of Delhi to begin with and, later, shown on Star TV channels in order to reach an all- India audience.