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This is a special space – one where the team of teachers, staff, children, alumni, partners and customers use their colours, shiny sequins and pompoms to talk about their art ideas, stories, triumphs as well as challenges. This is the voice of Art for Akanksha.

“Happiness Depends Upon Ourselves”

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Written by: Anoushka Agrawal

Story: Tanisha Nalavadi

Anoushka and Tanisha are young Art for Akanksha volunteers who’ve been with the organisation since they were 12 years old and have practically grown up with the Akanksha Art Lab students. Their love for art and their want and willingness to do something more keeps them connected to Akanksha in different ways.

Tanisha with the kids at Chidiyatapu

Aristotle once said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

What do the children coming from the low- income areas of Mumbai that are a part of Akanksha have in common with the children living in the little hamlet of Chidiyatapu in the Andaman’s? It’s simple – they both share an immense understanding of Aristotle’s quote.

This is something that leaves 16 year old Tanisha Nalavadi in awe. She wonders how children who don’t share even a quarter of the privileges and luxuries she lives with and who live in conditions far worse than those that she lives in would ever be, are always so happy, so enthusiastic, so excited.

Sitting on the warm sand of Chidiyatapu, next to the clear, blue ocean, gazing at the endless sky that bled wonderful shades of red during sunset, she finally understood. She finally realised how the children of Akanksha always bore an immensely positive, contagiously happy attitude. It was because they had everything that they wanted, desired nothing more. And to them, that was more than enough.

During her one month internship in Chidiyatapu, Tanisha met people she described as the kindest she had ever come across, much like the children she worked with during her experience at Akanksha. These were the children of the tiny village of Chidiyatapu.

She was to put up a play with those children, concerning the theme of litter and its effect on marine organisms. Since Chidiyatapu was an insignificant, minuscule area, no garbage trucks were sent to it by the government, which was the reason for the major build-up of litter. With Tanisha’s help, the children were able to put up a fabulous performance in their community hall, which had an impact not only on Tanisha and the entire community, but on the government officials as well. After watching the play, the government finally agreed to send garbage trucks to Chidiyatapu.

Working with each youth of Chidiyatapu, Tanisha realised that she was able to understand them and connect with them. She knew exactly how to get their attention and how to guide them, solely because of her experience at Akanksha. Because she had previously worked with the children of Akanksha, she found that working with the children of Chidiyatapu was so much easier. They were always so eager to help, and wanted to do rehearsal after rehearsal while preparing for the play even before Tanisha asked them to. Their enthusiasm and joy made her want to continue spending time with them and working on the play with them, even on the days she was the most tired, even in the sweltering heat of the scorching sun that always covered the beautiful Andaman Islands.

Just like the children of Akanksha, the children of Chidiyatapu were always smiling and were never seen to be even the least bit unhappy. Being around them, Tanisha couldn’t help but grin.

When I asked her what she felt was the biggest similarity between the two sets of children, she said two things – their eagerness and energy, and their enormous love for art. Both of them taught her much more than she could ever teach them, they inspired her far more than anyone else has. Along with them, she found that she could actually make a difference to the people around her, and, eventually, to the world.

Tanisha claims that the reason her experience at Chidiyatapu was the best one she had ever had was because of her experience at Akanksha, since she learned so much from the children there and was able to implement that learning while doing what she loved to do. Most of all, she learnt that, to be happy, all you had to do was love yourself and do what you love to do, and believe that that is enough.

 

Reaching Beyond

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Our installation is an elephant with wings of a butterfly. It has been made out of plastic bottles and used tubs. The animal is decorated with glitter, mirrors, gift papers, etc.

Our students brainstormed on ideas around feeling light, bright, free and reaching beyond. The elephant is a thinking creature and is among the most intelligent species. The wise elephant seems to be bogged down by the weight of limitations that surround him.

The butterfly is free and light but may have a tendency to become flighty and vapid. So our animal is a hybrid of an elephant and a butterfly representing freedom and astuteness to reach beyond all internal and external shackles.

The elephant symbolizes great strength and intelligence but it is grounded by societal dictates. The butterfly wings symbolizes freedom without judgment but together they form an animal with the ability to reach within and beyond. We think that the world will be a better place if each one of us reaches beyond caste, religion, borders, nations and limits in order to live a harmonious and productive life.  The installation is an emblem of our children’s wish to reach beyond what is expected from them.

Created by:
9 to 13 year olds of Dadabhai Navroji Mumbai Public School –
an MCGM school run in partnership with The Akanksha Foundation 

If you love the installations and the hard work put in by our children and teachers, do send us your picture with our installation and a line on why you like it to art@akanksha.org. The best answers will win our art tiffin box filled with goodies. We’d love to feature you on our blog! 

Art Tiffin Box Give Away

Zoo Mania at Kalaghoda!

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The installation is the culmination of four animals – an elephant, butterfly, seahorse and a fish – creatures from water, land and air.

The installation shows the importance of every creature, be it as giant as an elephant or as small as a butterfly. Every creature’s role is very essential in the ecosystem and for its better functioning.

Created by:

8 to 12 year old students of
Mahalaxmi Mumbai Public School and 
Sitaram Mill Mumbai Public School –
MCGM schools run in partnership with The Akanksha Foundation 

 

Coming up: Reaching Beyond

If you love the installations and the hard work put in by our children and teachers, do send us your picture with our installation and a line on why you like it to art@akanksha.org. The best answers will win our art tiffin box filled with goodies. We’d love to feature you on our blog! 

Art Tiffin Box Give Away

ELEFISHISTIC: Installation at the Kalaghoda

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We chain them, abuse them, whip them, shoot them, eat them, shoo them, beat them, kick them. It’s a pity they don’t know to speak, if they did, our ears would have bled with the echo of their expletives.

Animals! These wonderful creatures deserve to be free, in their homeland, in the midst of lush green trees and idyllic mountains.

This model is a reminder of how these rock stars need to survive happily, just like you and me, and we need to help them find their perfect place rather than driving them towards extinction.

There are five animals that are merged together in the model, as if forming a whole, asking you take notice of their plight, their beauty and their struggles. All of them have decently long life spans, but do we really let them live that long….THINK!

Installation created by:

8 to 14 year old students of
Laxmi Nagar Mumbai Public School and
Shindewadi Mumbai Public School –
MCGM schools run in partnership with The Akanksha Foundation 

 

Coming up: ZOO MANIA!

If you love the installations and the hard work put in by our children and teachers, do send us your picture with our installation and a line on why you like it to art@akanksha.org. The best answers will win our art tiffin box filled with goodies. We’d love to feature you on our blog!  🙂

Art Tiffin Box Give Away

CRAZY ANIMALS: Installation at the Kalaghoda

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The Akanksha Foundation is proud to say that our students have 4 art installations this year in the children’s section at the Museum Gardens.

This installation depicts the unity and fluidity of our ecosystem. We are all shells of life, connected and vast. The way each animal fits with the other, we want to depict the similarity between us all, animals and humans alike. We are all one, part of one beautiful ecosystem, coexisting and living.

Installation created by:

7 to 13 year old students of
Abhyudaya Nagar Mumbai Public School  
Natwar Nagar Mumbai Public School  
Wadi Bunder Mumbai Public School –
MCGM schools run in partnership with The Akanksha Foundation 

Coming up: ELEFISHISTIC!

If you love the installations and the hard work put in by our children and teachers, do send us your picture with our installation and a line on why you like it to art@akanksha.org. The best answers will win our art tiffin box filled with goodies. We’d love to feature you on our blog!  🙂

Art Tiffin Box Give Away

The Stories A Wall Can Tell

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We believe art can bring different people together, tell their stories in a unique way, be a way to unwind and connect with yourself and others. We believe art can have a huge impact on our lives and there are examples of that all around us.

Art for Akanksha came together with a team of volunteers from Godrej to do all of that and a little bit more.

On World Volunteer Day, around 60 volunteers from Godrej painted with 6 Akanksha alumni to transform the walls of a pukka Municipal School in Mumbai. This group together helped over a 125 children repaint the walls of their schools – walls that they saw everyday with messages that would remind them of the importance of health and sanitation in their school as well as home.