Young people in slums who are interested in sports or cultural activities such as dance, theatre and other artistic pursuits are often unable to pursue these due to lack of resources and space for expression of creativity and talent, no support from the government or their own community members.
Thus, the Inchara project was born in 1999 from the belief that every child should be able to express themselves through art or music and motivated children, irrespective of their background, to express themselves through street plays, puppetry, clay modelling, painting, music, dance and theatre. Through creative expression, children learn to employ cultural activities as tools for social mobilization and awareness creation on various social issues in communities. The project also seeks to provide a means for constructive recreation for young people, to train them in skills which they might be able to use professionally, and to strengthen migrant families’ cultural roots, something too easily forgotten in city life.
In 2004, a group of Inchara children released a song book titled ‘Chili Pili’ containing songs written by the children of APSA on various aspects of child rights. This was followed by an audio rendering by the children of 11 of the songs in the book, which was also released as an audio cassette. The songs have since been used by various radio programs and in campaigns, protests and cultural events.
The Inchara Art Gallery was inaugurated at APSA’s Dream School in September 2006. The exhibition displayed paintings, canvas painting, murals, sculptures, clay sculptures and glass paintings created by street children, child labourers and children from urban poor slums. Today, the Art Gallery is also being used to conduct recreational and creative classes in theatre and dance. Children’s work under the Inchara project can also be found on display in the Bangalore Police Commissioner’s Office.
Children who are members of Inchara conduct street plays and role plays in urban slums to educate communities on various social issues such as child and gender rights, civic issues, importance of education, healthy living, water privatization and HIV. Using the power of wall paintings as a tool to spread awareness on children’s issues in local communities, Inchara members also undertake painting of murals on social themes in schools and various significant community areas, and paint classrooms in bright themes of flowers, animals and trees to promote child-friendly school environments.