Do you all remember the Rickshaw Race Team from the Netherlands which came to visit us and our connection projects in January? Here a small reminder:
Carla was one of the team members and she kept especially the art program well in her memory. After finishing the rickshaw race challenge she decided to stay longer in India to travel around. Two months later she reached Mumbai again, this time to volunteer with Reality Gives for ten days.
Her first task was to help out with the women’s day treat. Dermalogica sent five masseurs to give free hand massages to our female Youth Empowerment and English Language Support Program teachers. Carla told us that one teacher asked her why they would need that, what it would be good for. Carla laughed and explained her it would be to relax her muscles and angles. She realised that these women never received such a treat and get very less chances to relax from their daily struggles. After the teachers left Carla bumped into a crowd of women demonstrating for their rights and spontaneously joined them. She loved that women stand up for their rights in such a male dominated country.
After this first day Carla mostly worked with the Bombay Underground art program in Dharavi and beyond. She joined Himanshu, the founder and art teacher of the program while he went to the schools and other art programs all over the town to teach kids painting, drawing and photography. She also helped him with his book sales on the street on the weekends.
Carla told us that she especially observed differences between the schools: “Where the students were more privileged and the school was better equipped the children would also pay more attention and concentrate on the subject. In other schools kids were very loud, impolite and difficult to handle. But it became a challenge for me to get them focused on one thing. So I created Witte Tonie!”
Witte Tonie means “I don’t know” in dutch and is a very simple drawing of drawing of a male being. Carla started to ask the kids how they like Witte Tonie, how is family looks like and where he lives and suddenly there were lots of new drawings of that small illustration. Some of them even said: “I love Witte Tonie, he is my best friend”. That was Carla’s best experience of the ten days!
Another great experience she kept in good memory was when one of the students invited her and Himanshu for tea to her home. She saw how a slum family typically lives and experienced their great hospitality.
“During my short time with Reality Gives I realised one very important thing: if you forget about the living conditions, the bad schools, the missing sanitation and the garbage, these people’s and kids’ lives isn’t so different to ours. They enjoy entertainment, they enjoy laughing, painting and playing. We are all the same and we shouldn’t treat these communities different than us.