In addition to our regular work with educational institutions, healthcare professionals and senior citizens, CCDC has been reaching out to other communities interested in addressing specific issues or themes. These workshops have been in collaboration with organisations already embedded in or working with these communities.
One of the special features of these workshops is that they were conducted in the local or regional language which the communities were comfortable with.
Here are glimpses into some of these workshops.
Workshop for Prison Inmates
In probably the first initiative of its kind in the country, Ravi Ramaswamy of CCDC was invited by the Department of Prisons, Government of Karnataka to lead a week long workshop for inmates of Bangalore Central Jail. Ravi's workshop was a part of the programme initiated by the NGO Peacemakers that focussed on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of the inmates.
Between the last week of November and the first week of December 2016, Ravi conducted two workshops for a group of 60 prisoners.
At the end of the workshop, one of the participants shared “I never felt that we were being seen as prisoners and criminals [in this workshop]. You saw us as humans who had capabilities, strengths”.
Some of the other feedback from these workshops were “It’s been years since we played games”. “It felt like we were outside jail and looking at how to deal with issues outside”. “Gave me confidence on how to deal with outside world”. “In times of difficulty, keep trying, never lose hope”. “This workshop has given me hope”!
Workshops for young farmers
In collaboration with the Azim Premji University and Samvada, an NGO in Bangalore, CCDC has embarked on a Legislative Theatre process to work on issues of young farmers in Karnataka.
Through a two-day TO workshop, a group of 8 young farmers explored issues in their lives, shared real experiences and created a forum play. The play was performed for students of Samvada’s Agriculture Course at Kolar.
The play highlighted the struggles of a young farmer being caught in between the lure of the of the urban life and the desire to work in the fields.
There were 3 scenes in the play and 8 interventions in total. The interventions came from a place of understanding the conflicts of not just the protagonist but also the other characters. Everyone understood the complexity of the conflict and the motivations of the characters as they were going through similar conflicts in their lives.
The group found the process both challenging and insightful. Putting themselves in the roles of their real life "oppressors" - the father, the teacher- was not easy. They shared that they could now understand the struggles of these people as well.
Community Leadership Programme for women
Over a period of 7 months in 2013, CCDC conducted monthly workshops for a group of women in Karur, a small town in Tamil Nadu. They were in the age group of 25-50, with different profiles- some were working women, some were shop owners, or were street vendors, some were housewives. What they had in common was a desire to be change makers in their communities. The local Youth Congress leader who had invited CCDC had heard of TO and believed TO could be a transformative experience for the women, and that they could then carry this energy and hope into their communities.
It was inspiring to work with these women who faced so many challenges to even come to the workshops, for 6-7 hours a day for 3 or 4 days. By the end of the workshops, they had fully grasped the idea of 'leadership'. As one of the women put it, " Others should speak more, you should speak less! That is what a leader is!"
Forum workshop with women
One of our most memorable experiences was working with a gutsy group of women employed as housekeeping staff in a large apartment complex. Initially shy at the idea of performance, the women made time at the end of their work day, meeting for an hour every day for 7 days. Their play depicted their daily struggle. The women had scripted their lines, and rehearsals were never perfect, with lines changing each time! " You don't worry, amma," one of the actors told me, "I know how doctors speak to people like us." The makeshift rehearsal spaces, the challenge of juggling everyone's free time, they braved it all, to finally produce a spectacular Forum performance on Dussehra day, in floodlights in front of a noisy 300 strong crowd! The concept of Forum excited them, and they handled interventions from the audience confidently.