By NewsGram Staff Writer
Working with the acclaimed director Amol Gupte during the filming of Stanley ka Dabba and Hawa Hawai, Nyla Masood, a costume designer by profession in the Hindi film industry, met many underprivileged slum children. And it was too saddening for her to see that the blooming lives of these kids were actually at loggerheads with the happiness that a child must enjoy and deserves at such a tender age. She thought that the young lives of these kids were being wasted in the mad hullabaloo race of food, money and shelter as many parents want these young shining faces to earn living for their families by doing all sorts of odd jobs like begging, child labor etc. So she came up with the idea to give these children some recreational time and founded the NGO- Project Dhai Akshar. For the nomenclature, Kabir should be quoted here-
Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
Dhai Akshar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye
(Having read piles of books and scriptures, people died, but failed to become scholars,
Only the ones who read two and half letters of love, gained scholarly wisdom.)
Dhai Akshar gives these children the recreational time that they so deserve.
Nyla Masood says, “Our NGO, Project Dhai Akshar, provides these children with a recreational learning centre where they can productively use their time. We have rented a place close to where these children reside, where we have a kitchen, a bathroom, a reading room and a main room where the children indulge in a variety of activities and at the same time learn practical life skills.”
Because these slum children do not have access to toys at home or their own library, Dhai Akshar gives them a space where they can play, learn various arts and enjoy. The NGO remains open for four hours every day, Monday through Saturday, and sometimes even on Sundays. The children are given snacks and food that they have together every day, learning becomes fun for them, they’re given a tangible free play time, regular check-ups are done and theater classes are organized regularly. A well stocked library is maintained. Saturday is ‘movie’ day where animation and children’s films are shown. Children are taught the basic values about life. About not lying, not stealing etc. The NGO has what is called ‘circle time’ where kids are encouraged to talk about problems they might have, not against each other though. Also, they are taught to say something positive about a child that they may have noticed during the day.
The hardships that these young children face at such a young age deflower their innocence. And to keep the innocence intact, indulging in recreational activities becomes a necessity. And that’s what Dhai Akshar is all about.