Chandigarh NGO transforming slum children’s lives by theatre

May 11th, 2009 - 10:31 pm ICT by ANI  

Slumdog Millionaire By Sunil Sharma

Chandigarh, May 11 (ANI): A Chandigarh-based non-governmental organisation is influencing the lives of slum children through theatre and also training them in vocational pursuits. Started in 1992 by a city-based theatre artist, Zulfikar Khan, Theatre Age has been nurturing the talent of slum children by providing them formal, vocational and theatre training. It started with 25 slum children making paper bags out of newspapers and supplying them to various institutions.

Zukfikar Jhan sees theatre as the perfect medium for poor slum children to express their talent. “We requested the children to stop working. They were so good in studies and in plays. They are very good actors. As far as the films are concerned, according to me, it is a fare use of talent and creativity. Like in `Slumdog Millionaire’, a film based on slum kids won the Oscar’s but the artist has got nothing. This is not the case with us. We have got good results. The children who have grown up, have started their own groups. They still work with us,” said Zulfikar Jhan.

The NGO today also helps its children to get admission in various schools.

U.S.-based Ewan came to Chandigarh as a tourist, but as soon he found out about `Theatre Age’ - a school for the slum children. And, he decided to spend a month to teach and share his experiences with them.

Reminiscing the initial days, Zulfiqar Khan, President of Theatre Age, says how every year he used to enable four to five kids to reach the fifth grade assessment here.

Then some cases of students were brought his knowledge who were finding it difficult to continue study in fifth grade, as they were also expected to work. But the NGO helped them in such a situation.

In 1993, Theatre Age’s group gave its first full-fledged performance `Raja Aur Kisan’ or the king and the farmer. It has never looked back since then, taking up social issues like environment, female foeticide, AIDS and de-addiction.

Thanks to this NGO’s endeavours, that a shoeshine boy has become a make-up man with a TV channel, a vagabond into a soldier, while some others are conducting theatre workshops themselves.Interestingly, this NGO takes newspapers as public donation instead of any monetary help. These newspapers are donated by its 500 members and then further sold for revenue purposes. (ANI)

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