At the Umerkhadi Observation Home, through our counselling unit we come across children from a variety of backgrounds, educational qualifications and talents. Most children in the home are either school dropouts or have never been to a school. They are engaged in carpentry, tailoring and educational classes. Few are appearing for their 10th and 12th std exams and are college going students.
It’s very challenging to engage these children and keep them on a positive track while they await their trial. Two such children inspired the Radio show project! Hafiz has spent 2.5 years in the Observation Home and has completed both his SSC (X) and HSC (XII) exams from the confines of the institution. The exams kept him motivated and focussed but once they were over, his mind wandered and boredom took over. Rakesh on the other hand, is a software developer. Carpentry and tailoring of course did not meet their interest and both of them struggled with passing their time in the home.
As counsellors, we needed to think of something challenging that will occupy their mind and positively engage them. We introduced the idea of having Dongri’s own ‘Radio Show’! To them and they immediately said “YES” to the project.
From the beginning we wanted the boys to take the lead. They took minutes from the very first meeting. They had a lot of creative ideas for the radio program. For the first show they chose the subject ‘baarish’. While the main aim of the project was to engage children, the secondary aim was to groom every the participants and help them gain confidence.
After finalizing the draft, preparing a signature tune, they started to select the participants. They were told that they might not get readymade trained participants, they had to prepare them. Here, they learned leadership qualities. Without losing temper, they gave every participant enough opportunity for giving his best.
They would come to the CGC during office hours and work on a spare computer or cell phone under supervision. Sometimes there were fights and disagreements, but they eventually learned that if they wanted to complete the task, they needed to listen to others and to respect others’ opinions whether right or wrong, whether important or not. They had to work as a team.
The boys needed to get permissions from probation officers and superintendent, and other children to interview them. They needed to work on their communication skills. They learned to talk with respect and confidence. We even had a discussion about the use of abusive language after which they decided themselves to strictly have only ‘sabhya’ (decent) language in the script.
While developing the episode, the boys decided to pay homage to the many people who lost their lives in this monsoon. We were happy to see them care and increase their sense of connection to society.
Over the course of two months we saw Hafiz and Rakesh and all the other participants passionately involved in something they loved doing. We saw them work hard, support and encourage each other.
We realised that a project like this had not only occupied two frustrated children but also offered them the potential to learn skills and attitudes that would facilitate their reintegration into society. Not least of all it gave them a sense of pride at their accomplishments and helped them realize their potential.
They have prepared a 25 minute long Radio Show, which will be played in the home for all the children. And we hope that this becomes a regular project and we are able to produce a show every month with different children! Sometimes these out of the box ideas create greater ripples!