“I’m so scared, I don’t know what’s gonna happen!!” 12-year-old Sumaiya was near tears as we were getting ready in the bathroom. I hugged her and said, “It’s fine, we are going to be wonderful!” It was Kranti’s first public dance performance on 17 March at an event to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. As the choreographer and coordinator, I was having mixed feelings: excitement and fear. We turned our heads as the door banged open – Robin entered and said “They’ve moved you up, you need to be on stage in 5 minutes!” We grabbed our makeup, Kranti tattoos and extra clothes and sprinted from the bathroom, dodging between rickshaws as we crossed the street.
When we reached the stage, it seemed like EVERYBODY was starting at us. And they were – we had already been announced! Robin got onstage and introduced Kranti. The rest of us were still scared, and I was also a little excited. We all climbed on the stage, nervous and shaking, but then suddenly the music, and excitement ran through my body. As we started dancing, the crowd that had been small 5 minutes ago started growing by dozens! Everyone was cheering for us.…our coordination was a little off, but we were full of energy. Most importantly, our little angel Sumaiya was incredibly good on stage, she left behind all her fear and danced with her heart for her first dance performance in public. The special thing about this dance performance was that we (Revolutionaries) choreographed this dance without any outsider’s help. It was a HUGE success!! There is a link below if you haven’t already watched….why haven’t you watched?? (Like us on Facebook to see all of our videos: http://www.facebook.com/kranti.india)
The other exciting thing happening at Kranti is that summer vacations are coming and Kranti’s staff have planned so many ways to get rid of us so they can have a staff retreat. The two youngest girls are visiting their village for 2 weeks then going to camps. We older girls are applying to 3 internships in India’s rural areas that will build our leadership abilities while learning about social problems. You can read about them here:
I am applying for scholarships for a program called Semester at Sea, where I was accepted for Summer 2013 trip to visit 10 different countries! Also, staff and all of us are working hard to get passports made. Especially my passport, everyone is helping me (even the local politicians!) because I am trying to go on Semester at Sea and study in America next year.
Well this was our story and plans for summer vacations, what about you? Have you planned your summer vacations if not then get started soon! Also, a Happy Holi in advance, look out for photos in our next report!
P.S. Robin just told me that summer vacation does not start in America until May or June. Ours starts in early April and we go back to school in June. So I hope you are planning your spring breaks then instead!
How did you spend your Valentine’s Day? Do you want know how we spent ours? We spent it cheering on our revolutionary Sheetal who became the star of the day as she spoke at the One Billion Rising event in Mumbai!
For more about the One Billion Rising campaign, click here:http://www.onebillionrising.org/pages/about-one-billion-rising.
Sheetal shares her feelings and experience : “When Robin asked all of us about speaking at One Billion Rising I thought for a minute and then said that I want to talk about my mother and the violence she has faced. Robin said, ‘Okay, that’s great, write down what you are going to talk about.’ She was happy because I volunteered without any coaxing and this was the first time that I was going to talk in front of so many people. When I saw the crowd I became afraid because I was thinking about what people would say when they came to know that my mother is a sex worker and that I am going to talk about the struggles she faces. Would they listen to me? My body was shaking when they announced my name. I thought I’d be blank but when I started I felt encouraged. In the middle I started crying because I was missing my mother, but I was surprised by crowd who were shouting and encouraging me. I felt really happy. There are people who want to hear about my mother and the thousands of mothers like my mother. I gave this speech because I wanted to talk about sex workers. I wanted people to know about problems sex workers are facing and dealing with every minute of their lives. It was an exciting and very important experience. I am glad that I finally spoke about what I had wanted to for ages.”
Watch Sheetal Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppbCCu16Fho
Everyone here at Kranti was really happy for Sheetal. She went ahead and did what she wanted to do without being stopped by obstacles. Now it is your turn! If you have anything to do or say then just do it—now! Don’t wait until the last moment.
Last week I attended two conferences which were about how technology can help NGOs. The first conference was Connect IT: Social Media and Cloud organized by the NASSCOM Foundation and the second was Tech Camp, Mumbai, where we got the opportunity to partner with the Blue Ribbon Movement and connect to many people. It was all surprising for me because I never thought of technology helping NGOs in so many ways. I attended these conferences with Kranti’s staff.
Nowadays we Krantikaris (Revolutionaries) are attending Akanksha’s Service Learning Program sessions as part of Kranti's new partnership with Akanksha SLP (see link below for more information). We Krantikaris and Akanksha’s change makers went to Borivali National Park to learn more about the environment. I wasn’t with them when they visited the park but I was there when they were discussing issues and the things they saw. I was sad and jealous that they learnt so many things that I missed. Now I am not missing any sessions and will tell you that these are the most interesting classes; we talk, we share, we discuss, and we learn new ideas.
I am Shweta Katti. I am one Kranti's revolutionaries and have been here since Oct 2011. For the next 2 months, I'll be sending you updates about Kranti. I am taking a gap year and studying for my TOEFL so I can study abroad. I have also started to apply to universities, including America and NYU. I was admitted in the Semester at Sea program but wasn't able to go because my passport was not ready. Hopefully I'll go to the next voyage in June. During the past eight months I have travelled around India and Nepal volunteering in different organizations. It has been exciting and valuable months.
Happy Valentine's Day..
Valentine's Day is a day for love. This is the day when everyone shares their feelings, spends their time with the ones they love. But some people don't have the right to celebrate this day. I realized this at the pride march.
On Saturday two weeks ago, we all went to Queer pride in Mumbai. This is the third pride I have attended. Before Kranti I didn't know about different genders or about gay, lesbians and trans genders, but when I was exposed to these issues I became an ally of LGBT rights. At the first pride in Bangalore It was totally strange for me. I had never seen so many queer people together. It was different experience for me. I was in the pride but I was not there not with queer people; I wasn't enjoying it I was just thinking. But now it's not strange for me at all, I really enjoyed pride and dancing with queer people. I want to be an ally because I know how discrimination feels like. I too have experienced discrimination because of my dark skin, growing up in red light area, being lower caste, and language discrimination. Many people think if somebody can't speak English that means that person isn't smart enough. I have also faced discrimination due to lack of proper documentation - I don't have a birth certificate, therefore I couldn't get my passport and wasn't able to take TOEFL exams, which prevented me from applying to universities. That's why I believe that everybody should have equal rights, and it has been great to learn about and stand for queer rights!
That's it for now; my goal is to send a report every week. Thank you all for supporting Kranti!
You’ll be hearing from me soon.