Friday, 28 August 2015

Creatures of the Concrete Jungle

Sushmita Pandit throws light at an initiative that brings smile to the faces of the underprivileged children of Kolkata. The larger goal is to create opportunity and thus make a difference. 
Bichitra Pathsala’s initiative of teaching the underprivileged children some of the basics of photography has received an overwhelming response. A series of workshops titled, “Creatures of the Concrete Jungle”, kick started in December, 2014 with Deshbandhu Sishu Sikhalaya and ended with Jyotirmai Vidyamandir in August, 2015. The enthusiasm of the all the students who attended the workshops fascinated the members and volunteers of Bichitra Pathsala. Mr. Sandeep Sarkar, wildlife photographer, who conducted a number of three-day workshops held at institutions like Sakhawat Memorial, Modern High School, Shri Shikshayatan, Mahadevi Birla Girls High School, Loreto Day School (Bowbazar), Deshbandhu Sishu Sikhalaya, Dhulagori Adarsha Vidyalaya and Jyotirmai Vidyamandir, was pleased to teach a bunch of jovial and enthusiastic children the basics of photography.  

Workshop at Jyotirmai Vidyamandir 
The first day of the workshop always began with an ice-breaker game where the students had to pick up chits and pair them with a partner on the basis of the related information mentioned in the chit. The students smartly paired themselves and discussed the items mentioned in their respective chits in each of the workshops.  The ice-breaker game was mostly followed by a power-point presentation, where Mr. Sarkar gave the children some basic ideas about the different types of animals, birds and insects which they quite commonly come across on the streets.  

The basics of camera were taught extensively by Mr. Sarkar on the second day of the workshop followed by some hands-on clicking session with the students. The students enjoyed every bit of it. On the third day, the students along with the volunteers assembled at an outdoor location to click pictures of birds and animals that fascinated them. Locations like Dhakuria Lake, Elliot Park, Nature Park and Maidan were chosen to test students’ creativity. The children also learned the importance of being patient while clicking pictures of animals and birds. Some of the students proved their mettle by clicking some excellent photographs. 

Students enjoying the outdoor session 
Not only the students but the volunteers too enjoyed every moment of interaction with the students. “This is one experience I will cherish all my life”-said Harsh Doshi, a volunteer for the workshop.  He further stated, “To see them look at the world a little differently through photography has made me look at it differently too”. Nitish Kumar Singh, a student of iLEAD and a volunteer for the event, was also very glad to be a part of the workshop and wished to be a part of more such programmes in the future. 

Bichitra Pathsala received the support of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for all the eight workshops. The colorful faces of the students who participated in those have not only left the host with some indelible memories, but also with enthusiasm to make more such faces glow with the light of knowledge. Bichitra Pathsala is now looking forward to an exhibition of photographs shot by the children during the workshops. The exhibition would take place at the Emami Chisel Art Gallery from 27th to 29th November. 
The writer is an educator. Comments personal

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