This is an email from Hunarshala News, a newsletter by Hunarshala Monthly Newsletter.

Hunarshala News: March 2021

March 2021 Newsletter

Darpan Majumdar
Apr 17 · 10 min read

WELCOME TO THE NEWSLETTER OF HUNARSHALA: TRIBAL YOUTH LEADERSHIP ACADEMY, RAJASTHAN

“What if tribal education respected the wisdom and creativity of tribal communities and local economies?”

Fashion Design Academy

Our Fashion Design learners have created quite a few outfits this month — from palazzo pants to ladies tops to designer blouses. Our Fashion design course, under the guidance of Neelam, is gathering steam as the course is in the second month. The female learners learned how to use newspaper to figure out different ways to cut fabric and used it as an example to sharpen their skills for making new outfits. They have learned how to do cutting and stitching, making a blouse, small frock, look at measurement, gents shirt etc.

All the girls from the hub have made 20 potli bags for sale. Our learners also made frill skirts, pouches and skirts from spare jeans. They made seven saree falls and stitched them on accompanying sarees. They have also designed tops for ladies which can be worn either with a kurta, pajama or jeans. Maya, Sharda, Rekha have made blouses of different styles and patterns. It is also encouraging to see many of the young women in the Fashion Design Academy branching out and exploring other areas like photography, computer graphic design, organic farming, etc.

Our Fashion Design Academy learners are looking for mentors to support them and looking for business opportunities to showcase their talent.

We also had a special visitor, Archana Dutta from Ahmedabad, who hosted two Listening circles with the young women to encourage them to more openly express their feelings, stories and challenges. These sessions really helped to increase the confidence of our learners.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Learner Profile: Kishan, 13

Kishan lives with his grandparents and he supports his grandfather in running a shop. He is someone who inspires one and all. He started off with no experience in skating but now he is a top skater of Hunarshala and wishes to pursue skating seriously. Last year in a skating competition in Delhi he won a bronze medal as a member of Creativity Adda Surata.

He is also learning entrepreneurship skills at Hunarshala. He prototyped a panipuri stall and a tea stall for a few days. He is also interested in painting and computers. He has learned to book tickets online and knows how to use Canva to design and publish images. He also asks good questions and probes whenever we have sharing circles and discussions.

What makes him an excellent leader is that he looks beyond himself and can always be found supporting other learners in their own learning journey with his knowledge and experience.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Farming Academy

Avinash and Rahul learning to design organic farms with our guest facilitator Sakib, who is a permaculture farming expert from Delhi. They visited over 40 local farms and practically learned to prepare mandala design, improve the quality of yield, through proper irrigation channeling, mulching, making jiva amrit, composting, creating trenches, grey-water treatment, and planting a blend of saplings. They also explored the deep connection between permaculture and indigenous farming techniques of their ancestors.

Post their hands-on learning with Sakib, they are targeting 30 to 40 farm visits by next quarter to support local farmers in the community. We at Hunarshala are also planning to create a model mandala garden, nursery, mulching space and seed bank at our farmhouse for experimentation and demonstration. Come help us!

Sakib also hosted an organic farming workshop at Hunarshala where he shared how to make bio-enzymes, natural pest-repellents, and jiva amrit with learners from different hubs.

Art, Dance and Music Academy

This month our learner, Kalpesh (age 16), completed the Swaraj University design project with his mentor Shahrukh. They painted 15 wall murals on the campus. Kalpesh was very happy with the contribution he made to the aesthetic appeal of the Tapovan Ashram campus. Kalpesh learned how to use space and how to make different colors and, most importantly, he gained the confidence to experiment and create new shapes and forms. He is looking to start approaching the community for more such projects.

Facilitator Sumi di hosted a workshop with the learners on how to make natural colours using ‘Palash’ flowers so that we can play natural organic Holi. They really enjoyed and asked Sumi di how they can make colors from different flowers from their vicinity and reduce the dependence on buying Holi colors from the market.

Makerspace

We have created 20 + products made of bamboo. We are developing a catalogue so that we reach out to our prospective customers. This time around Saurabh and Vishal have carved out signboards for farming; Vishal, Kuldeep and Mayank have made a kitchen table for the new Kitchen hub; makerspace learners collectively designed a ‘Matka’ stand made out of tyre and bamboo; and, an innovative wooden spoon by Vishal.

The continuous experimentation and hard work of our Makerspace Team -- Vipin, Naresh, Mayank, Narendra, Kuldeep, Vishal, Gautam, Saurabh and Kishore — paid off this month as they received a paid project from India Infoline Foundation to build two tyre playgrounds for their children’s learning centers.

Each playground had five structures made of upcycled tyres. We had to do a lot of planning in order to build each playground in the 4 days allocated each and to stay within our budget. One of the strategies we came up with was to divide into two teams to work on this project. We had excellent coordination between these two teams to complete each project on time. We also made sure to look into important design factors like durability, safety, beauty and fun. Luckily, the local kids were with us to guide us along the way.

The physical location also gave us challenges as it was full of rocks which made it very difficult to dig up. An additional hurdle was the heat. Therefore our strategy was to work from the late evening well into the night. How we actually planned and finished the project given all the constraints was quite a learning experience. The credit goes to the whole team that it never for a moment felt the stress and pressure. It was quite a joy to stretch ourselves to finish the project on time. The huge smiles and sounds of the children playing in the playground gave us a real sense of accomplishment.

Considering the success we had with making our first two tyre playgrounds, we are looking to formalise it into a company and a brand in the near future. Please let us know if you would like us to build a tyre playground in your community.

Our learners Vipin, Naresh and Narendra attended an Earth Building Workshop hosted by Gopal Negi from Himachal Pradesh at Tapovan Ashram, Udaipur from 1st - 5th March 2021. They learned about environment-friendly mud bricks which are made out of natural material. They learned how to design mud arches, make a mud dome and roofing using bamboo. Another important skill was to learn how to slice bamboo which is a technique known by bamboo experts. As a bonus, they learned how to make mud rocket stove and mud wood-fired pizza ovens.

Our learners had a beautiful experience at Tapovan and did not feel like leaving. When they came back to Hunarshala, they were inspired to create models and work more with bamboo for construction purposes.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Learner profile: Vishal, 23

Vishal is one of the promising learners of Hunarshala. He knows how to drive a JCB, cook healthy meals, do farming and was also an active member of our tyre playground project.

His never-say-die attitude and completing the project well before time, even if the challenges are many, is something that inspires all the learners. Once we just had a photograph of a caterpillar which we were planning to make as a model for our tyre garden project. Vishal was so excited that he did not sleep till 2 a.m. until he actually figured out how to make it himself. His determination is admirable.

He is leading the cooking in the kitchen and all the meals cooked by him are healthy and nutritious. He ensures meals are prepared and served on time. One of the happening things to see at Hunarshala is the time during lunch where all the learners come together. Vishal can be found in the center of activity.

His sense of responsibility is a big plus. For example, when we were not getting the necessary tire from nearby community shops for our playground project, in the late evening, he and Vipin went to Udaipur and managed somehow to get the requisite tyres without which we could not have finished our Maabari project.

We see a lot of potential in the work he does with bamboo and are seeking to provide him advanced training so that he can design more products.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Media and Computer Academy

Our media team was at work on several new documentary film and photography projects.

Some stories happen in front of your eyes and such is one story of Vishal when he saw a buffalo get stuck in one of the nearby water bodies and his life was in danger. What could be done to save him? Vishal did everything possible including getting a JCB to get the buffalo out of the danger. The media hub decided to turn this event into a documentary film showing the courage and compassion of Vishal.

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TDcS9LwpIc

Hunarshala is located in nature’s bounty and we are blessed to have so much greenery around us. Our media team decided to make some documentary films about the nature surrounding our learning space to showcase it to the outside world.

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnKoNl46fcU

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hHIOe3aLUs

Mayank, Gautam and Kuldeep designed a documentary on our tyre playground project.

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byMqSBcP6l8

Our advanced learners, Mayank and Kuldeep, conducted a photography workshop for new learners of the media team who are complete beginners. They also shared how to use Canva for photo editing and designing.

We faced leadership and facilitation challenges as well as a huge opportunity when Peter, computer facilitator from Navgurukul, went home on leave. Our learners Manisha, Ranjana, and Kavita decided that they could lead the hub till the time he returns. This gives a glimpse into the tremendous learning spirit of everyone involved in Hunarshala as they believe learning should continue regardless of the facilitator.

Please enjoy some of the photographs shot by our Media team this month:

What would it mean to enable youth leadership in tribal areas?

Do share if you like what you see. We hope some of the stories have tugged at your heart. We would be happy to hear from you and invite you to be part of our ever-growing family. Write to us at gautambharti0@gmail.com.

Hunarshala is a project run as part of Shikshantar Andolan and is supported by DS Group. It is affiliated with Swaraj University.

Made with ❤️ from Rajasthan.

Hunarshala Monthly Newsletter

The Tribal Youth Leadership Academy