July 3, 2013

For the first time ever- World Belly Dance Day Celebration in Mumbai, India

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten
- Cree Indian Prophecy -

We are currently passing through a space of time, where we are not exactly facing the full impact of the ramifications of the above quote, or are we. It all depends upon which end of the looking glass, one is looking through.

Mumbai, the Capital city of the state of Maharashtra, also called as the Financial and Entertainment Capital of India, is probably one of the best examples of the same. On one hand, it is home to many famous Stars from the Film and the Sports Industry and on the other hand, home to Dharavi, the biggest slum in Asia.

In present day Mumbai, Water is one asset whose flow is directly proportional to the flow of another precious (not) liquid asset – Money. The rich and middle class, more or less get, 24x7 supply of water; even as thousands of villages across the state face tremendous shortage of water all throughout the year. One doesn’t need to travel to the interiors of Maharashtra to see the appalling shortage of water that the lesser privileged have to face. The hard-hitting truth is much closer home.

Even as one starts moving towards the outskirts of Mumbai, one can see many small ‘adivasi’ (tribal) villages, which have been neglected by society and government and they face tremendous shortage of the most basic necessity of life - Water.

By god’s grace, there are many NGO’s that are selflessly working hard towards the upliftment of these Adivasi villages.

DAC – Dance Across Cultures is one such NGO which has adopted a village on the outskirts of Mumbai and works towards improving the condition of the villagers by providing them water and education. They also strive towards building and supporting the self-esteem and confidence of the children of the village, especially the girl children. 

To aid this endeavor, DAC conducts regular Dance classes and English Conversation classes at the village.

They have also successfully built a rain-water harvesting well which aids in providing water throughout the year. Their aim is to build another one soon and also test water quality and implement measures to better it.

Since many years now, Veve Dance has collaborated with DAC on a number of different occasions for conducting fun classes and also in providing the children of the village opportunity to travel to the City and take part in various cultural activities like art festivals and stage performances.

After seeing the problems faced by these adivasis so up & close, Veronica Simas de Souza, Director of Veve Dance had made up her mind to take one step further and to do something more towards helping ease the water crisis at the village. This gave rise to the idea of ‘Project Water’. Through ‘Project Water’ Veronica wishes to create awareness amongst the city dwellers about the scarcity of water faced by the people in these Adivasi villages.

Veve Dance has been conducting Belly Dance classes in Mumbai since 2006; is India’s First ever Belly Dance School and is presently more than 1500 students strong. With the help of this student resource, Veve Dance wishes to create awareness and also raise funds for the building of another water treatment plant at the village.

There comes a time, when every idea or concept has to rise out of the pages of the blue print and the conceptualizer has to take a leap of faith and launch their project, unmindful of success or failure. For us at Veve Dance the time came in the form of World Belly Dance Day – 2013.

On the 11th of May, 2013, which happened to be the 7th Annual celebration of World Belly dance Day, we at Veve Dance launched our most awaited and treasured project – ‘Project Water’,  a project to help raise funds to help build a water treatment plant at the village. 

As this was our first ever World Belly Dance Day celebration, to mark the occasion, Veve Dance donated Rs. 20,000/- to the Mumbai based NGO – ATMA. The NGO works to address the issue of quality education for underprivileged children and young adults through a unique consultancy model.

We also conducted Workshops of different dance forms like the Indian Classical Dance form of Kathak and Belly dancing, free of charge, for the girl children of the adivasi village. These workshops were conducted at the Whistling Woods International Institute for Films, Media, Animation and Media Arts at Goregaon – Film City, which happens to be one of Mumbai’s best Media Arts Institute. During the entire part of the day, right from the trip from their village to the Whistling Woods Institute and then back again, the children were taken care of by DAC & Veve Dance.

Due to the enormous efforts put in by our Director Veronica, 3 other NGO's Aseema, Salaam Baalak Trust & Samarpan also joined in this special workshop. 

Aseema is a Mumbai based non-governmental organization with a mission to provide underprivileged children with a nurturing and stimulating educational environment that helps them recognize their limitless potential. Since 1997, Aseema has been providing holistic and relevant education to Mumbai's most neglected children - children living on the streets or in slums and under inhuman conditions.

Salaam Baalak Trust was first established as a direct result of the movie Salaam Bombay! It used the power of cinema to depict the lives of street children. As the film was made with real street children, the film makers saw the potential in these children and created a trust from which programs could be implemented to provide resources and services to street children. In Bombay, the first center was opened in Dongri in association with Maharashtra State Women's Council in the 1989.

Samarpan in an NGO started by the ER2 Academy with an aim to provide the under privileged children of Mumbai with education and helping them to incorporate the right values of life and also in overall personality development. It helps these children blossom into socially developed adults.
Everyday new activity is under taken for these kids. Different subject matters with creative interaction form a part of their regular classes. 

There were in all 120 kids from 4 NGOs dancing without inhibitions and having pure fun at the workshops arranged just for them. The light of pure joy and happiness that was shining from these kids cannot be described in mere words.

They listened to all the instructions given to them very carefully and the utter concentration with which they were executing the Kathak Todas and Belly Dancing Shimmies was very heartening. It is at instances like this when we realized how we take so many things around us for granted and the value of it is lost to us. We learnt a very important lesson from these underprivileged children; to be thankful for what we have in life and to value it forever.

We thank all the volunteers who helped us in successfully conducting these workshops. Last but not the least, a heartfelt thanks to all the NGO’s and the children without whom this event wouldn’t have been the resounding success that it was. Your smiles and laughter was our greatest reward.


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