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Turning three at the E-Base!

November 26, 2014 • Posted in: News, Workshops

Sometimes, all we need is a little inspiration to give us the thrust in the direction of action. With simply the intention of inspiring on the third anniversary of the E-Base, we had a small celebration to mark three years of educating and motivating to lead change.

This anniversary the students got an opportunity to interact with very dynamic guests- Bhajju Shyam, Vikram Sridhar and the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) of the Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra.

The immensely talented and renowned Gond artist Bhajju Shyam wowed the students with the story of his life. Coming from the Pradhan tribe, a sister tribe of the Gond, Bhajju Shyam has seen it all and done it all. From working as a security guard in Bhopal to giving talks in Paris and London; Bhajju ji’s life took a complete 360 degrees turn.

Bhajju Shyam taking the students through his first book: The London Jungle Book. Captivated by the systems and culture of London, Bhajju ji retells each of his experiences with enthusiasm as the students listen and marvel at his Gond depictions of the same in his book.

Bhajju Shyam taking the students through his first book: The London Jungle Book. Captivated by the systems and culture of London, Bhajju ji retells each of his experiences with enthusiasm as the students listen and marvel at his Gond depictions of the same in his book.

He was at the E-Base to share just this amazing journey; from a daily wage worker to an apprentice of his artist uncle to finally becoming the renowned Gond artist he is now.

In groups, students try to work out the time line of Bhajju ji's very interesting life. (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

In groups, students try to work out the time line of Bhajju ji’s very interesting life. (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

And, the results of the game.

And, the results of the game.

He is proof for the students that anything is possible if one puts their mind to it and being a tribal is no disadvantage by any means. Through his witty humour and humbling anecdotes, this very message was so effectively communicated to the students.

Bhajju shyam: the artist; the witty comic. (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

Bhajju shyam: the artist; the witty comic. (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

The seven young girls of the 28 member (an all girls team) STPF showed the students just how much work goes into protecting the wildlife of Pench, and that today’s girls can do just as much as boys!

Talking to the students about what goes into the conservation of the forest of Pench.

Talking to the students about what goes into the conservation of the forest of Pench.

Through discussions with the girls, the students got the most detailed accounts of the girls’ lives, their jobs, their struggles, their successes and their goals and aspirations. The students were also taken through a physical training session by the girls to show them just how tough they have to be. The cherry on top was the karate lesson by the STPF girls.

Karate at the E-Base! (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

Karate at the E-Base! (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

An honest statement- we had at least four to five girls come up to us to ask us how to enroll in the forest department! All in all, we say this is inspiration at its best.

Conservation is a lot of hard work and the students found out after sweating it out.

Conservation is a lot of hard work and the students found out after sweating it out.

Vikram Sridhar, a performance artist and story teller with a focus on conservation, wove the message of conservation in his performance of the book ‘Jaadui Macchi’, a Gondi folktale.

Vikram performing the story 'Jadui Macchi' for the students.

Vikram performing the story ‘Jadui Macchi’ for the students.

The message of environmental conservation is so often riddled with pessimism and fear. Vikram’s message through ‘Jaadui Macchi’ is one of hope and inspiration.

And the story read "the wave carried everything away with it". Here it comes!

And the story read “the wave carried everything away with it”. Here it comes!

It carries everything with it. Quite literally!

It carries everything with it. Quite literally!

Moreover, the students of Pench belong to the Gondi tribe, but are unfortunately disconnected from their roots. It is wonderful interactions like the one with Vikram that help take a step towards exploring their own culture and the richness of it.

The inspirational buzz at the E-Base had no bounds!

The inspirational buzz at the E-Base had no bounds!

To be in the company of such extraordinary but humble personalities was perhaps the best third anniversary gift we could give our students. We witnessed curiousity and inspiration through the questions our students put up to our guests. We are certain that this interaction has left a mark on the students and perhaps in the years to come we may find our own girls and boys following the lead of these inspirational individuals.

To end, we would like to thank Navreet Kaur, who joined us as a spectator of the E-Base workshops but became a team member, helping with coordination, photography, arts and crafts, ideation and all that goes into a successful workshop!

Navreet with the girls from STPF.

Navreet with the girls from STPF.

Bhajju ji autographing his books at the E-Base.

Bhajju ji autographing his books at the E-Base.

At the end, we screened 'Sava Sher' a movie by our students on their life and relation with the forest of Pench. (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

At the end, we screened ‘Sava Sher’ a movie by our students on their life and relation with the forest of Pench. (Photo: Navreet Kaur)

Looking forward to seeing all this inspiration translate into action in the Pench Tiger Reserve!

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