The Sit and Draw event took place at Swabhumi, Kolkata on the 8th November 2014 and is organised by the Roundtable fellowship, which is involved in social services. The event is simple and the concept self-descriptive, as in sitting and drawing is the order of the day. Yet my personal experience of the event was anything but unassuming; here is my account.
A blue sky, sun drenched day in Kolkata set the perfect back drop for this outdoor event and the children were swiftly given white caps to protect their heads from the burning sun above. We arrived in one piece, which I am always thankful for in India and took the usual group photos as we entered. The children were in a typically buoyant and expectant mood.
Whilst waiting for registration and bouncing Ipshita on my knee, out of the corner of my eye I saw another group ascending the stairs in what seemed to me to be a sombre fashion. The group was fronted by two Indian women holding a large sign between them; I suppose to raise awareness of their particular cause. I wondered what that cause was as I didn’t catch the writing on the sign but to be honest I didn’t need to, it was all over the children’s faces and embodied in their essence; they were from the railway.
Debnanth must have sensed the disarray on my face and explains to me, whilst gazing at the shoeless, rag adorned, dishevelled looking children “Them children are from Sealdah you know, when I used to be at the station people used to come round sometimes and give us eggs and help us and stuff.” I was astonished at his blunt admission.
There was a solemn looking little boy in the group and he was dressed in jeans that were far too small and sat way above his ankle and an oversized striped shirt, which at one point would have been blue and white. I remember the image of this particular boy so vividly as he reminded me of the boy in the film ‘the boy in the striped pyjamas’. Despite this lingering feeling of emptiness and pain I experienced for these children the event began.
Soon the paint was flowing and children were busy getting arty. I took this opportunity to do some drawing myself, but I was interrupted by the event organiser who said tersely “You draw? Draw outline on this white.” I realised she was referring to the large blank canvases lining the walls of the vicinity. “Children will paint after” she said defiantly, so I followed and she shoved two markers in my hand.
My mind raced with ideas of what to draw and how surprising the proposition was, but I soon realised the image of Rajahat, the lush piece of land Future Hope owns with a lake and full of sprawling coconut and banana trees, was clear in my mind from a visit the week before, and would be perfect for the event: as it was related to India going green and the environment.
The drawing ended and the candy, popcorn and ice cream counters opened. Chaos descended as adults fought to get their children a treat. At this point the music was booming from the stage as two performers got the crowd going. Badl was particularly pleased at the opportunity to throw some shapes and the kids soon followed suit, dancing their butts off in the sun to some of Bollywood’s latest hits!
By this point it was nearly 2pm and time to leave, but not before we picked up our small cardboard lunch boxes provided by the event organisers. Inside were purris, a potato curry, a salad with the most delicious dressing on and 3 small milk sweets. Admittedly, I found this part of the day to be a particular delight as by this point I was drained, hungry yet completely contented that all of the kids had had a good time.
Future Hope is changing lives, I saw this with my own eyes at the sit and draw event. Where would the children be without this organisation? Homeless, futureless, loveless and without an education. It’s true, you can’t help everybody and India’s need is vast in terms of bringing about total mass education and eradication of poverty. However, to have been a part of Future Hope and the children’s lives is an honour; serving others is indeed a fulfilling and worthy pursuit.
I will be attending a gala dinner and auction in London on the 21st May 2015 to help raise money for this amazing charity.
Ghost girl photo: Spyros Petrogiannis
Trying to smile photo: HappyHorizons