Saturday, July 19, 2008

“Babu Beheni Aao Comics Banaye” (Boys and Girls come lets make Comics)

(22nd June-24th June, 2008)
After the second ToT workshop, our new trainers went back to their villages and the very next day conducted their comics workshop. This time the trainers felt more confident after their first experience. Moreover, through detailed sessions in the ToT workshops, these trainers have been able to rectify their shortcomings and overcome their hesitations. Ten such comics workshops were held from 22nd June to 24th June, 2008 in Shyamkat, Trilokpur, Sundi, Dharora, Kunserva, Hardi Dali, Ramnagar Pandetola, Ganwariya, Jaswal and villages.

In Shayamkat village, it was the assurance and eagerness of our youngest newly joined trainers Sadhna and Vandana to conduct the workshop in their village that made the effort successful. These girls also convinced Abhinesh of Nonia village, who has an experience of conducting one workshop, to volunteer to assist these two girls.

In the morning, the girls were seen wandering house to house to call the children individually. They walked through the fields to invite other children from a settlement near their village. They even got the children by hand for the workshop! Meanwhile, Ram Prasad, the Balwadi teacher cleaned and prepared the venue of the workshop. Around fourteen children attended the workshop.

It was surprising to note that the children had remembered the sequence of story writing, the format and other specifics of drawing figures, from the last workshop which was conducted almost one month back. Neelam was one of the new participants. She had heard from other children about the comics workshop held last time. She felt that creating comics is easy since her younger brother, who attended the workshop before, does it all the time!
The youngest participant in the workshop was a seven years old girl Neha. By the second day, she had finished drawing her comics but since the girl was still small to write, she had left the space for dialogues, and dictated the dialogues to the trainers to write for her.

By the end of the second day, each child had completed at least two comics. Some were on their third story. Total twenty one comics were prepared while around ten more were expected to come by the third day of the workshop. All the stories made were new, different and fresh after all these days of comics making.

In Trilokpur, the workshop was conducted by Saraswati. Thirteen children participated in this workshop. The workshop was conducted in a much organised way. The children finished their preliminary exercise of making drawings early in the day. Saraswati had neatly pasted their individual drawings on a string and hung it up for display. The trainer was using the Trainers Manual to instruct the children. Each child was called on the board to address the participants. By the end of the third day, each child had made their own comics. The children made use of black and white beautifully. They made appealing drawings and used different stories to address the issue.

Santoshi, one of our eloquent and articulate trainers, was conducting the workshop in Dharora. The workshop began at 10 am at a Balwadi centre. Initially there were fourteen children for the workshop but by lunch time only nine had remained. Most of the children were called by their parents to work on the rice puddles. Out of the nine children, six children were new to the workshop. The villagers were standing around the place of workshop to observe the children work. They were watching Santoshi train the children and expressed that it was a matter of pride for them to see their village girl addressing the children of her age and even older to her so confidently.
Since more number of children were new to the workshop, the other earlier trained participants were helping them wherever they felt any difficulty. Majority of the participants were girls. The girls who had participated earlier told that the last time when they were called for the workshop they were very reluctant to come. But this time when they came to know about the workshop, they readily agreed to come even for the second time. These girls were sixteen to eighteen years of age. Two of them were also married.
Santoshi was attending the children more on their sheets and ideas rather than giving strict guidelines on the blackboard. By the end of the third day, around eleven comics had come from this group. All the comics reflected new stories and experiences.

The workshop in Kunserva was a pleasant sight to watch. The workshop was been conducted in a private school. The ambience of the school was delightful. This private school had no walls. The classes are conducted in open under a thatched roof. There are benches laid for the students and behind the blackboard there was an overlooking field. Rainy season was a pleasantry here.
The workshop was conducted by Seema and Dimple and the new trainer Arun was assisting them. The best part about this workshop was that Seema was articulately instructing the children in Bhojpuri, the local language of the area. She was also trying to explain the frequently used English words like ‘box’ in Bhojpuri.
The drawings and posters were displayed around the class. The trainers had also prepared a poster for the workshop. There were total sixteen participants from different backgrounds. Out of these, for three children it was a first time experience of any kind of workshop.
The children were responsive. They were cross questioning the trainers. The trainers were attending each participant individually. They were also checking the spelling mistakes and other grammatical errors in the comics. Every time the children were getting distracted from work, the trainers also took them out in open for a small play activity. After reviving themselves, the children got down to work with double the enthusiasm and energy.
This workshop had girls in majority. Most of the girls had their younger siblings along with them. They were working as well as keeping a watch on the young ones who were toddling around the school.

In Sundi, the workshop was conducted by Ghanshayam. The workshop had seven participants. All these participants had attended the first workshop. Therefore, the children straight away went onto writing their stories and also prepared the fair draft of their comics on the first day itself. By the end of the first day, there were four complete comics and rest all were on the stage of finishing. By second day morning, all the children had finished their first comic and quickly went onto writing the second story.
Each time the children felt more confident about making comics. They had made a wonderful use of special effects. Their characters showed movement and actions. After each comic, the children were experimenting with new styles and effects. The children were now playing with ideas, innovations and creativeness.

[The Balwadi in-charge was with the group throughout the morning. She thought of this workshop to be very fruitful since the stories and issue was not fictitious but based on real incidents and experiences. She herself is a staunch critic of corporal punishment. Her son of four years of age was also attending the workshop from the last two days. He was imitating other kids and was copying their drawings on his sheet of paper.]

[Workshop in Sundi was a nature’s delight! On the second day, because of the unavailability of Balwadi, the children gathered and made the preparations for the workshop under a mango tree. The children settled on a plastic sheet on the ground. The area was surrounded by a big pond on one side and fields and cattle on the other. The workshop was attacked by cattle at one time or species of biting red ants and extraordinary kind of spiders at the other. During the workshop the children suddenly started to scream when a water snake crawled at the scene. The children were in laughter with the series of attack of nature but then also retained their concentration back in time.]

The children also thought of showing their comics to the villagers who had gathered for some other event. For the illiterate men and women, the children read out their comics step by step. The villagers understood the issue of the comics and appreciated the children for their tremendous work.

In Pandetola village Sudhir Choudhary was conducting the workshop. On the first day the workshop began at about ten in the morning. When our facilitators reached the workshop they were surprised to see that most of the children were comparatively small for their age at the workshop. There were around twelve participants in the workshop. For most of the participants, it was a first of its kind of experience. Some of them didn’t even understand what comics meant.

Our facilitator Anam Purty was from the Jharkhand state. It was difficult for the children to understand the instructions in Hindi which was an alien language to the participants as well as our trainer. Initially children were unable to identify the issue. But gradually when Anam Purty brought a touch of Bhojpuri in his Hindi, the children happened to understand the instructions better.
Because of lack of time on the first day, only identification of issues and story writing could be dealt with. Overall by the third day the children worked hard and came out with their comics. However, everybody felt that three days were less to learn and gain expertise over a new skill.

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