Day 5: The Gangs Of Astley Hall!

In my previous post I had written that we have a lot of girls coming in, which is exciting. Here is how.

The main side of Astley Hall that houses Mc Donald’s and President is manned by kids from Chuna Bhatta slums, who beg, gather garbage to sell off and occasionally sell balloons too. There is yet another group of kids from another area here called Kanwali Road who are relatively from settled families with access to amenities. This bunch sells balloons and also works in this part of Astley Hall, though of late the kids have all moved to the KFC complex a little way ahead. We have not targeted the kids who sell balloons because they are not street children.

There is a third group that comprises mostly girls from the dwellers in Parade Ground (the main ground in Doon where all exhibitions, rallies and such events are held). These girls are from a community that, for generations has been begging as a means of survival and there way of talking, along with their physical appearance is different from the kids who live at Chunna Bhatta. The third group that I just described beg on the other side of Astley Hall that houses Book World, Orient Cinema Hall and Lal Pathology Centre. These two groups do not get along (remember, we have not included group 2- the balloon sellers from Kanwali Road in our project).

When I had first tried to talk the girls from Parade Ground to be part of Street Smart, they had refused point blank. They said they did not want to study and that girls in their families did not learn how to read and write. They were also stubborn and had no reason to trust me. This group is led by Tina, a strong, young girl who can be quite rude when she chooses to! They did not join us initially but our brilliant idea to bribe them with samosas worked and we had a lot of girls from that side coming in- shy and giggling at first but all creative and wonderful by the end of it!

We also had a very interesting gentleman who can write backward (mirror image) in Hindi!

A good day’s work, I say! 🙂

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