Excited little faces line the front rows at the Lohia ground in Margao. The children are dressed in vibrant colours. Polka dotted and multi-coloured tiered skirts mixed with traditional Indian sarees. The Lohia was where a group of freedom fighters gathered to show the Portuguese the defiance of the Goans in their fight for civil liberties. Today, the little children gathered on the historic ground, wish to show their creative talent to the world. But these are not just any children. They are street children usually considered a nuisance at best, a menace at worse.
But its time for change.
El Shaddai Charitable Trust organised the exhibition to display the creative skills of the street children from the area. The children come from various slums in and around Margao, the financial capital of Goa. Their parents are labourers on daily wages. With both parents working through the day, these children are forced to fend for themselves. The boys end up in unsavoury company and lives in petty theft, drug and alcohol abuse and gang violence. The girls are at risk of pimps leading to prostitution or forced early marriage.
Through the public exhibition, The El Shaddai Trust wants to show the public such a life is not a foregone conclusion for these children. The Lohia exhibition invited children from other schools in the area along with Self Help Groups. The idea was to help the children integrate into society and showcase their creative skills on a common platform.
Set in the busy city centre of Margao over three days from March 2nd to 4th, the exhibition sees a steady stream of visitors where rows of hand-crafted work greet them. Paper flowers in glittering pastels, discarded plastic bottles transformed into vases, cardboard crafted into table-top displays for the home, paper cups converted into lamps, old compact disks turned into candle holders.
Going by the smiles and excitement all around the Lohia ground, these children are on their way to integration into mainstream society.
All they need is a little help.