Finding Hope Through Circles
Posted by Sachi Maniar on Aug 5, 2018
Yesterday, we witnessed the power of bringing young people together in a circle and creating space for them to share their problems, own up their mistakes and come up with solutions.
We are working on a case where 16 children have been alleged of leaking a SSC board exam paper on whatsapp. While the Juvenile Justice Act of India is not retributive but reformative and focuses on rehabilitation through education and vocational training for offenses committed by children under the age of 18, the Maharashtra State Board has debarred these children from giving exams until March 2020. Which means, these 15 year old students will loose out on 3 important years of education. It’s a big punishment for receiving paper on whatsapp.
While we are in the process of drafting a letter to the high court, in this matter, children’s parents have been extremely tensed not just for the future of their children but the fact that they are so depressed. A parent informed that one of the girls was also suicidal.
Yesterday we brought the children together to sit in a circle.
As they entered, they looked, disappointed, tired, anxious but one thing that all of them were looking for was Hope. Hope, midst despair.
After clearing all that we had to with regards to the case, the education process and all the efforts we were putting in to try to not let their 3 years go waste, we finally held the circle.
We asked questions that would make them reflect on life, who they wanted to be?, On the last day of their life what would they want to think of or leave with?, The stigmatization they were facing in the community because of this and how will they over come that? What is the most important thing for their parents in relation to them?
The answers were all about values, some wanted to do good, be like their father, mother, grand father, work hard, be honest, be giving. The children had stopped going out of their house because their friends were teasing them and every one in the community was mocking them. One boy shared, I am now realizing that it is people's job to speak... I don't have to listen to all of them. Another shared that, they will do better than those students who will get admission in colleges and better utilize their time.
Most children said, their parents want to see them happy and successful!
On the last day of their life, they would want to remember all the happy memories, few of them shared, ask for forgiveness for all the mistakes they have made, see that they did good deeds and helped others...
At the end of the last circle, the children could see for themselves how there was no co-relation to this really unfortunate accident in their life and success or happiness. At the end of their life, this one year won’t matter if they chose to be a warrior and do better than any of the friends who are teasing them.
Next they took out pen and paper and created a PLAN B.
Incase, they loose on two years -what will they do, so that, they can be at par or better equipped to reach their goals and make their career. The dull faces lifted up as they themselves planned for their future. No false hopes were given, all of us were realistic of our situation. And together, they jotted down few things which they would like to pursue further. Get command over English, learn computers, get practical experience in their chosen field and much more.
It was amazing to see how being in a safe space and sharing life experiences and thoughts helped them find strength to get passed the tough times. In the end, they asked, "So Didi (sister), when are we meeting again to sit in a circle ?"
And another beautiful day ended, only to make us realize the power of circles!