I was invited to be a chief guest for a book release function earlier this evening. It was a collection of Tamil short stories written by Shankar. I always get flustered when I am expected to speak in Tamil. I tried hard to find excuses to avoid speaking, but was bullied into getting on stage. I could also not avoid because it was a collection of stories about 12 children who had attended NalandaWay’s ‘Kanavupattarai’ camps. It means ‘workshop of dreams.’ The book was also titled by the same name.
A popular Tamil poet introduced the book. He spoke how he was deeply touched by the challenges, fears, struggles that these children and how the workshop gave them ‘hope.’
These camps are special to us. 25 Adolescent boys and girls from government schools come and stay together at the beautiful Dakshinachitra campus in Chennai, to paint, sing, dance and act for four days. They discuss their fears, anxieties and joys. We use arts to help them face the crowd, show their talents and get applauded. It could have been for the first time for some. We have conducted over 60 camps in the last 3 years. Shankar has facilitated in some of the camps.
The camp just offers them a small cup of sunshine, their issues back home cannot be fixed in 4 days, but they feel rejuvenated and re-assured, confident to continue the fight.
Please let me know if you would like to have a copy.
As a token of my thanks, I gifted Shankar the book, ‘Roots’ by Alex Haley.Gomathi Shankar