A wall on which a magic tree and a blue Genie meet football heroes Ricardo Kaka and Lionel Messi has recently become a colourful landmark in Kasturba Niketan area of Lajpat Nagar.
Not too long ago, this was a stodgy wall of the government-run Ujjwal and Uday home for boys, lodging minor victims of abuse, rescued child labourers, orphans and juveniles in conflict with law. Now, a group of these boys, armed with paint brushes, let their imagination run wild on the outer walls of their home.
An art workshop, started four months ago by NGO Manas Foundation, led to the discovery of 16 boys who showed talent.
Over six days around Diwali, the boys, aged between 10 and 17, created perhaps the most vibrant outer wall of a children’s home building in Delhi.
Tejashwani, their counsellor, tried to put their paintings in perspective.
“The children were guided by an expert but the ideas were their own. You will notice that one side is mystical, dreamy with a magic tree and a Genie. The other is more realistic with football players, birds and a boy playing the tabla.”
The big magic tree bears different fruits all at once. A wish-granting Genie emerges from a lamp guarded by a snake.
“This is the first time we conducted this kind of an art workshop for the boys. Another reason behind this was that we wanted the children to feel a sense of belonging and accountability towards their home,” Manjula Kathuria, superintendent of the home that is run by the Delhi government’s Women and Child development (WCD) department, said.
Manjula said the children first painted on paper. Their sheets, displayed in a room inside the the home, gave a peek into their minds.
“After he came in conflict with the law, a boy’s relationship came to an end. The pain of losing his love came through in his painting of a couple in the middle of the sea against the setting sun,” Tejashwani said, speaking of one of the paintings.
Leafless trees in a desert, a tiger’s face with ferocious eyes and a hurried sun painted by a boy diagnosed with bipolar disorder, all found their way to the paper.
The new outer wall of the home came as a surprise to WCD director Saumya Gupta, who inaugurated it on October 22.
“The children worked very hard and were thrilled with the appreciation,” Gupta said.