Pallavi Chander

Project 560

Grant Period: Two months

Pallavi Chander works as a creative arts therapist. She completed her training in Drama and Movement Therapy (Sesame, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London) in 2017 and Arts-Based Therapy (India) in 2012. She also has a BA in Visual Arts from Chitrakala Parishath. Her practice uses drama, visual arts, storytelling, music, movement, play and mediation to facilitate creative processes towards psycho-social interventions and compassion-based treatments as well as for self-expression and awareness. The creative sessions are intended to be client-led to create a safe and non-confrontational environment for the clients.

Pallavi has been working with the Buguri Community Library in MGR Colony in Banashankari for the past one year. The Buguri Community Library, is part of the children's programme at Hasiru Dala, a non-profit organisation of waste pickers, that strives to integrate marginalised waste pickers into the solid waste management framework by utilising their expertise in the domain.

This grant supports Pallavi to conduct a part of a Creative Arts Therapy (CAT) programme titled Creative Arts Expression with adolescents. Pallavi observes that the circumstances in the community put the children in the colony under great pressure and risk. While their parents are away at work, children spend most of their afternoons filling and transporting water, sometimes multiple buckets to over three floors high. Often older siblings need to become caregivers to younger ones, pushing them into roles and responsibilities they are unprepared for. Alcoholism among the adults and substance abuse among the youth are common. This leads to further distress within families. With constant conflict and crime surrounding them, the children often remain vulnerable to psychological and emotional trauma.

Given the growing need to find safe spaces for expressions among the children, the Creative Arts Expression programme facilitated by Pallavi, started in early 2018 to address the immediate need to offer a more in-depth intervention. The programme is specifically designed for adolescent girls and boys from the community between the ages of 11 and 15 years. A part of the programme titled The Yellow Brick Road uses art-forms such as drama, visual arts, movement, storytelling and music therapeutically and as psycho-socio interventions to address issues experienced by the adolescent children. The programme uses the arts as a language to explore, learn, make sense of as well as express and witness each other’s responses in the hope of helping the child find better coping mechanisms. The sessions are client-led where, for two days in a week, the library turns into a non-confrontational and non-judgemental therapeutic space of play and wonder.     

Through this programme the boys and girls have been able to reflect on their lives in the context of their community. For example, the girls have spent several sessions talking about their journey of growing up in this neighbourhood. With all of them in their adolescents, menstruation has been a recurrent theme. Through sessions on storytelling and projective play, the group developed visual scenes of the menstrual ritual that is practiced within the community. The ritual is one of celebration, however, the sessions highlighted the many conflicting emotions a girl experiences during this ritual. The scenes were then developed into a book-like format. The group is keen on converting it into a book with testimonials and suggestions to young girls who might be curious about their first period and the ritual.   

The boys on the other have had extensive discussions on their heroes including those from the community. Sessions on gender stereotypes took a turn when the boys showed keen interest in wanting to cook. The group has cooked dishes that they have learned by observing their mothers and grandmothers cook or have learned to cook while their parents were busy at work. The group has been documenting these dishes through an illustrated recipe books which they hope to share with their friends/peers.

Through this grant, Pallavi and the children look to share the outcomes of their interventions with the community. The IFA grant will enable the children to share their experiences and learnings from the programme and the above intervention with the larger community, through a small exhibition, books, performances, talks and cooking sessions. The children will also share their experiences with the Buguri community in Mysore.

IFA believes that this intervention as part of its Project 560 initiative is important in enriching the shared experiences of the children and members of a community of a neighbourhood that is often marginalised. It will focus on the diversity of the cities’ lived realities and will be a valuable addition to the Project 560 Neighbourhood Engagements at IFA.

This project is made possible with support from India Foundation for the Arts, under the Project 560 programme and partnered by Citi India.