Deepali: The determination to dance to her own tune
Not encouraged to speak, dissuaded from expressing her everyday thoughts, Deepali grew up in a world of silence. A student of the Salaam Bombay Foundation Dance Academy, Deepali began to use her hands, her eyes, her feet to do the talking. Soon she found her hours of dance practice a liberation, an avenue for expression. No longer did the burden of household chores weigh her down, for she had something to look forward to, a space where she was Deepali the dancer and not Deepali the older sibling, Deepali the water bearer, Deepali the cook or Deepali the cleaner. Her journey from silence to vibrant expression did not go unnoticed. Soon Deepali was one of the chosen to undergo special training at a prestigious dance institute in Mumbai as part of her course work with the Salaam Bombay Dance Academy. Today, Deepali is a qualified peer trainer at the Shiamak Davar Institute of Dance. She goes to school, fulfills her household duties, contributes to the family income. Deepali found her voice.
Sanket has learnt to pull the right strings
It was in standard 9 that Sanket Gurav was first exposed to puppetry. But unlike other kids, the puppeteer held his attention more than the puppets or the story they told. The thought that he could control their destiny and could weave whatever magic he wanted into their lives, held immense possibilities for this 14 year old. On that day, Sanket made a discovery for himself that was to have a life long impact – he wanted to be a puppeteer, he wanted to tell stories, he wanted to be the master.
Sanket’s story is that of many children in the Salaam Bombay Foundation Academies. From a resource poor background, growing up in one of Mumbai’s over-populated slums, Sanket attends the local public school. He is also part of the Salaam Bombay Foundation Academy of the Arts, specializing in Theatre. Financial constraints drove the family back to their village where Sanket had little opportunity to pursue his passion for the stage. But as fortune would have it, the family returned to Mumbai and Sanket picked up where he left off. His passion and zeal for puppetry were cultivated by the Salaam Bombay Foundation facilitators and he was encouraged to participate in as many state and national level competitions. His prize money even enabled him to fund his father’s medical treatment and today, his father is once again an earning member thanks to Sanket and his puppetry.
Sanket plans to fund his college tuition with money he earns from private performances and prize monies. A humble school boy, once denied his basic right to education, he is today a young adult filled with hope, determination and the skill to be a positive contributor to his family and society.
Sanket is an example of how children can change their world if given the right tools and opportunities.