Step out and help out

Amrita Prasad
Friday, 23 February 2018

The Good Graffiti Fest, which starts today, encourages active volunteerism. It is an attempt to introduce people to organisations and individuals who are making this world a better place to live in

The Good Graffiti Fest 2018 (GGF), which starts today, is an annual ‘impact-event’ that brings together social change leaders, artists and active citizens to explore, express and evolve. The fest is led by volunteers and involves various engagement activities like talks, workshops, community graffiti, music and dance performances etc. 

Started in 2016, GFF is an initiative by Karmyo, a Mumbai-based active citizen group. Karmyo was initiated by Anshumaan Bansal and Deepika Goel in 2015 with a mission to encourage volunteerism.

The one day-one night festival, which is open to students, professionals and families, will take place this year at Thakursai village, near Pawna lake. We catch up with speakers at the fest, Ashish Kumar Shrivastava, founder of Shiksharth and Divyanshu Ganatra, founder, Adventure Beyond Boundaries.

Talking about the initiative, Anshumaan Bansal says that there are certain misconceptions associated with social work, NGOs and non profit organisations. “Many people hesitate when it comes to associating themselves with NGOs. They doubt the genuine intentions of the organisations. We started the Good Graffiti Fest with a motive to bring together people from all walks of life and create a platform, which will make them aware about volunteerism and social responsibility,” says Bansal.

The fest is a medium of self-expression and Bansal says that it is a great to way to inspire and exchange ideas and learning.” Explaining the concept of joy of giving, and the core values of the fest, he says that social work doesn’t mean giving away something that has to be discarded or is of no use to you, but it is investing in and sharing things that are precious to you. “Time is precious and what better way to ‘give back’ than giving someone your time? At the fest, the participants will spend 5-6 hours of their time painting a local village school at Thakursai and also bringing small gifts to the students of the school,” adds Bansal.

Divyuanshu Ganatra, who is one of the speakers at the fest, has never let his visual impairment come in his way of pursuing his passion for adventure. An IT expert, Ganatra is the founder of Adventure Beyond Boundaries, and he became the first Indian with visual impairment to fly as a solo para-glider.

Ganatra, who has been promoting adventure sports among individuals with special needs, says, “I am going to the fest with an intention to create awareness about disability. It is an opportunity for me to engage with artists, architects, CEOs, students, volunteers and so on. People with disability are a big part of our population, but they are invisible; they lead lives in isolation. I want people to understand that disability is not contagious and they have similar dreams, hopes, and aspirations like the enabled. However, they do not have opportunities.”

The psychologist and social entrepreneur also expresses his concerns about how some people harbour notions about disabled people, without knowing about their lives. “How many of you have friends who are blind? How many of you have attended schools where blind came to seek education? The fact that people do not interact with those with disability and never attempt at bonding with them is where the real disability lies. It is not about physical weakness but an attitudinal barrier,” he explains.

Speaking of the lack of disabled friendly public spaces such as theatres, malls, schools, Ganatra says, “A wheel chair bound person may have a job, but how does s/he reach there? Public transport, architecture is not disabled/special people friendly. It doesn’t give them confidence to go for a film or visit a coffee shop. We need to build empathy towards the community and that can be done only when there is a dialogue and communication between them and the enabled.”

According to Ganatra, if architects, journalists, artists, theatre persons, CEOs begin to spend time with these people, they will return to their jobs with clear ideas and begin to make the world a comfortable place for the disabled in their own ways. This will be out of empathy and not because it is their job.

Engineer-turned-educationist Ashish Kumar Shrivastava, says that he likes the idea that GGF is engaging youth for a good purpose. Shrivastava with strong desire and commitment to contribute to the tribal/rural education, has been working in the tribal region of Chhattisgarh since 2012 . The region has been affected by Naxalite problem. 

Through his foundation Shiksharth, Shrivastava is working towards  improving the academic level in schools and empowering community to contribute in the education space.

“In conflict-ridden areas, it is women and children who are affected the most. We are trying to give children a peaceful environment and engage them in a constructive way. However, we do face challenges. In a region dominated by Naxalites, and people living on the edge, it is difficult for the administration and people to trust an outsider. So it is important to build a relationship and trust with the people there,” he explains.

The problems there are too complex and hence the change will become visible in a few more years. “Having said that, in classrooms, we see children’s academics levels rising, their confidence increasing and their creativity improving. The school environment is becoming better,” he concludes.

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