Queer Campus Bangalore: Where Differences are Respected

qcOn 2nd February, around 40 CSA volunteers got an opportunity to listen to and communicate with people holding different ideas and ways to carry themselves off in society.

Queer Campus Bangalore, initially consisting of only four people, started functioning on 22nd October, 2011. QC is a comfortable space where one is free to discuss anything; it is a shelter where one needn’t hide who he/she really is. Their identity is best described by a rainbow-coloured umbrella which symbolises inclusiveness.

In most parts of India, even today, the queer do not enjoy the right to exercise their will freely. They find it difficult to gain respect, education or employment in the society. However, a recently established transgender employment scheme in Tamil Nadu has enabled three queers to work in the media field.

QC clarified the concept of ‘queerness’, polishing our notions of sex, gender and sexuality. NAS foundation case against carnival intercourse was also discussed. Further brainstorming and discussions brought out newer concepts such as pan-sexuality.

They told us the inspiring true story of Famila, a transgender of about 17 years of age who attended the International Transgender Conference in Delhi. However, notwithstanding the humiliation from society and rejection from her own family, Famila committed suicide.

After a feedback and question-answer session, we left with the insight that each person is different and important and needs to be respected for what he or she is. Each one, like us, has the right to live freely in our society.

–Reported by: Ritu Bachani, II EPS; Edited by Janice Vaz, II CEP

Want to know more? Contact: bangaloreqc@gmail.com, or visit: qcbangalore@wordpress.com.

Visit to the Planetarium and Museum: starring ‘Teletubbies Express’

616379_3848403809141_1402609968_oOn 25th November 2012, the volunteers of CSA took around 100 kids from LR Nagar to Nehru Planetarium and Viswesharaya Museum for a visit. Saying the day was tremendous would be an understatement.

We had reached LR Nagar and were eagerly waiting for the kids to arrive when we first spotted what I call ‘The Teletubbies Express’—a colourful train of kids led by our volunteers and the facilitators. Their smiles and excitement were so contagious that we found ourselves grinning from ear to ear.

Along the way to the planetarium, the kids sang their favourite songs and chit-chatted with us. Between squeals of excitement on reaching our destination, we all aligned ourselves to form our ‘Express’ again. Each volunteer taking charge of a group of kids, we headed straight to the playground.

Adrenaline kicked in at its very sight and our maturity took a back seat! The ‘train’ later proceeded into the planetarium in time for the Kannada show.

Soon after, on the way to the museum, our toddlers halted the traffic to make for the sweetest traffic constables. That was the highlight of the day.

It brought the train into the realm of Science and they engaged themselves exploring excitedly.

After the short tour inside and a head count, we proceeded back to the bus. We had all been exhausted by running after the kids; timely refreshments rejuvenated us. We dropped the kids back home and returned to college.

The day was definitely another feather in CSA’s cap. The excitement and wonder we saw in the eyes of the kids left a lingering smile on our lips.

–SuganyaVelumani, I PME

Hoskote Camp: learning through fun :)

On 11th August 2012, an exclusive tree plantation drive took place in Hoskote, a former project area of CSA, where we, the proud members of the CSA family, were given a chance to plant around 1000 saplings. The programme was organised by CSA in association with Chetana, a community-managed resource centre.

The most exciting feature about this drive was that it was arranged as a camp for us, the very sound of which enthralled us all. After receiving a ‘parental’ talk from Johny Joseph sir, we started our long-awaited journey, which brimmed with fun and frolic. At the end of the three-hour-journey, which passed by like minutes, we reached Yelchamanahalli, our destination.

Once we reached there, we had a brief interactive session with Mr Dominique. He engaged us in a number of ‘weird’ activities—which gave us a chance to meet and know one another—which later proved to be having a deep sense of clairvoyance in them. He made us think on the amount of time we spend self-reflecting, on the aspects that resemble our personality the most, and three good reasons for justifying the relation. This was followed by the story of ‘The Empty Cup’, of which he helped us find deeper meanings to.

These activities helped us understand ourselves better; it made us evolve into better human beings (well, maybe I went overboard, but we certainly did get a chance to search within ourselves).  Later, we had fun watching Dhristi practice for the next day’s play, had a hearty dinner, and retired to bed.

The next day, all of us went to the villages destined to plant the saplings. The villagers had already dug out the pits for us to plant them (which was a little disappointing). We all did our assigned tasks, and had fun working with the children there. Nothing could have been more satisfying. After having a sumptuous lunch prepared by the villagers and a recap of events with Johnny sir, we returned.

The day had drifted away and we found ourselves travelling back to college. In the bus, I found myself pondering over what the trip had taught me. My stream of thoughts led me to three conclusions: be cheerful, be energetic and always have an open mind. Also, the trip had earned me a lot of friends.

–Suganya Velumani, I PME

Reflections–Exposure to Bosco Mane

Being a group that aims towards making a difference, we, the volunteers of CSA spent some quality time with the kids at Bosco Mane, Chamrajpet, on Saturday, the 28th of July.

Bosco (Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota) is an NGO which has been working with the ‘Young at Risk’ in Bangalore city since 1980. It rescues and rehabilitates abandoned and orphaned children living on streets or working as labourers and those victimized to drug or child abuse and beggary.  BOSCO provides the kids a quality environment where they are educated, and employed later on. It believes that every child has the right to shine like a diamond and to live life in all its fullness. Today, BOSCO has seven rehabilitation centres and six street presence locations in Bangalore.

Bosco Mane has around 50 boys who have been rescued from various work places and streets. We engaged in different games with the boys. After having being nauseated and giddied by my little adventure in the merry-go-round, and jogging around the ground determined to land a good-football-kick (though unaware of the rules and details), and finally realizing that I could not find anything to suit myself amongst the various games that were going on, I resorted to the swing. The kids outran me every single time. It was fun to play and be with the kids. Though language created a wedge between us, our spirits overrode it.

The heaven too seemed happy seeing our happiness that it started drizzling. However, it did not dampen our spirits; we resorted to the shelter of the verandah and played Passing the Ball and danced to Banana Shake, rediscovering the child within us.

On the way back to college, I could not take my mind off the kids. We had seen a parallel world which always existed without us being aware of it. Though we were returning to our world of comforts, we had lifted up those kids’ innocent hearts. As to the volunteers, the exposure seemed to be about achieving mental satisfaction and responding to our inner voices. Bosco Mane gave us proof that we are not fighting for a lost cause. When there is a will, there is a way—Bosco Mane proves so.

–Anupama John, I EPS


A trip to Yeldur (CSA rural exposure camp)

Centre for Social Action conducts village exposure trips throughout the year. This time it was to a place called Yeldur in Kolar which is about 150 kms from Bangalore city. We were to leave on 15/6/2011 at 1:00 PM and return by saturday 16/6/2011 by 4:00 PM. On our way to the destination we got to know our fellow volunteers. We reached Yeldur by 4.30 PM. We prepared ourselves for the village visits as it was about 30 kms away from the place we were staying in.

Before leaving we all were divided into 6 groups as the total strength was 97. This was also done so that everybody would get to know each other,each group visited a specific village. Our mode of travel were mini tempos. This journey with a small group of people enabled me to get to know people on a personal level and make friends. Our group was brimming with  energy and enthusiasm right from the start to the end which made the trip eventful.After reaching the place we visited homes of the people living there and spoke to them about their occupation,education of their children, access to health care etc. We were shocked to see the inadequate facilities available to them. We played games with the children and for me to see them smile and laugh was a  wonderful experience. Memories such as these will be etched into my mind for a long time. The lesson learnt by me was to find happiness in small things in life.” All good things come in small packages”, at that moment  I knew how true it was. I realized that in order to work together as a group i had to interact with everyone  so that we could work as a unit. The way senior volunteers took up responsibility  is one quality which I would love to imbibe in me.

Like this the village exposure trip came to end leaving me yearning for more. I would like to end by stating a very famous quote “A journey of thousand miles begins with one small step”. Csa has indeed taken the small step towards the progress of our nation.



CSA goes camping

On the 5th of February 2010, 58 young men and women went on a village exposure trip to Hoskote,a rural area within Karnataka. The motley group consisted of a mix of Indian, Swedish and Norwegian students,with a German thrown in for good measure. The main objective of the camp was to get to know and experience a village setup, and the way of life led by villagers.We also learned about the ways in which CSA caused social emancipation,through its various projects and schemes initiated in a particular village.

Day 1: Initially the journey started in the village by a trek to a nearby hill, where the volunteers conducted a few games and activities as an ice-breaker and to build bonds with each other which was very much evident on the way down the hill. And then later in the evening the volunteers and other friends were informed about the various initiatives conducted by CSA in the village.

Day 2: Started with the refreshing yoga session which energized us for the activities of the day. The base for the most interesting part of the camp was set up with the interactive orientation session by a resource person. It was a give and take session by the volunteers who shared their experiences about the ancestral homes and experiences in villages. it was wondering to know the similarities and differences that existed among different villages.

Diversed groups were made for the cultural performances that would take place next day in the village. In groups, brilliant ideas came up that could be put up in the form of skit, dance, songs, etc. All the volunteers equally participated and practiced for the next days performance.

In the evening, we were split up into seven different villages. Each of these villages had three to four families hosting us and therefore we were further divided in groups of two/ three which consisted of one Indian and one foreign student. And then comes the fun…. Tempo ride! Tempo like always was the vehicle used for dropping the students to their respective villages. It was not only a means of transport but also served the purpose of entertainment. Some of us had already experienced such a ride but for some it was overwhelming and an exciting experience. we were welcomed with warmth and affection of the kids and the people of the villages. In general, all of us had a different experiences like making and eating Ragi mudde, eating and sleeping on the floor, sleeping on the floor, sleeping in the same room as the cow, warmth feeling in the cold night…. etc.

Day 3: For almost all of us, our Sunday started with the natural alarms of the cock, moos of cows. After the routine work at homelike fetching water, sweeping, cleaning and milking the cows, we walked to the fields to join them in sowing and ploughing, cleaning the fields, etc. It was a bit difficult for us to do these simple tasks but as we continued we enjoyed it. At noon time we were picked again and travelled by the joyous ride- Tempo!

The practice sessions, which had started the previous day, continued and we later left to another village for our final performance. We were able to gather a large crowd with our most useful way of campaigning- Beedi Naataka ! ( street theatre). The ideas and practice finally led to the enjoyable performance through skit, dance, songs with active involvement of the people of the village.

It was a tiring day for the volunteers, yet it would not have been complete without the traditional campfire. We had a whale of a time, grooving to the latest Bollywood and Kollywood hits, blaring out of our Director, Johny sir’s car. At last, though, the fun and games came to an end,as we gathered close to the campfire to have a formal ‘send-off’ for all our third-year volunteers, who would be leaving CSA in another month or so. This was, perhaps, the saddest part of the camp. The first year and ” designated senior” volunteers put up a hilarious skit miming the mannerisms of the outgoing volunteers.The third years countered by putting up an equally brilliant play of their own. Then, they were given mementos

Volunteers camp, coming soon….. :) :)

Four days away from the city life in a peaceful atmosphere with basic amenities is what the volunteers are going to expereince!!!

CSA Volunteers will be out on yet again on a rural exposure camp to experience the village life for 4 days in Hoskote project area. The camp will start from Feruary 5 and end on February 8, 2009.

It is an annual camp for this academic year. The camp will include family stay, discussions, cultural programmes for the villagers by the volunteers, discussions, games, etc.

Looking for to another fun- filled learning experience!!  🙂 🙂

Experiencing India, the CSA way !

The ever expanding CSA family received new members recently. From the 5th of November to the 23rd, we had with us a group from Lerum Gymnasium, (a high-school in Sweden). This group comprised of 9 students and 3 teachers. They were here on a exposure visit, wanting to see first-hand the great, charming country that is India.

Together with CSA volunteers, they embarked on a visit to the less often seen parts of  Karnataka. They went on a two-day village exposure camp to Hoskote, where their experiences included staying in the mud huts with village families. They went on treks to the neighboring areas, during which they unwittingly provided breakfast to leeches ! They were also introduced to the beauty and mysticity of the Indian pooja.

They also had a bollywood film screening. Although it was all pretty confusing to them (despite our best efforts to act as translators),  it was obvious that they were having a good time!

During their stay here, each of the students also worked on projects of their own, as it was part of their academic work They conducted studies on varied topics such as art forms of India, comparison of private and Government schools, etc.

All in all,  we can confidently say that they had a great time seeing India, the CSA way !

Camping with CSA!

CSA had quite an exciting weekend, with the first camp for the year happening at Kenjanapalya. As always, it was the camp that was organised by the Fredskorpset exchange participants of last year.

The participants for last year, Afreen, Sharath, Vandana and Vineeth organised the camp and had discussions and presentations on various aspects of Norwegian society and culture. We had animated and lively discussions, with first year volunteers actively taking part and expressing their opinions.

The other fun part was the campfire and the songs, dances and games around it. We took walks to the farm where we saw cows, pigs, a lot of piglets (:)) and even a deer. The place was wonderfully silent and peaceful. The camp was a refreshing break from our regular routines and a chance to get to know our new volunteers better.

A couple of thank yous are in order – to our co-ordinator, student co-ordinator, troop leaders, the four ex-FK partcipants and all the volunteers who came camping with us 🙂

For a healthier tomorrow

The health camp for the Rajendranagar children was conducted on Saturday, the 29th of August. A team of three doctors from Sri Venkateshwara Hospital, headed by Dr. Vijaya Kumar conducted the check ups ffor the children.

Around 120 children had their general health evaluated at the camp. It was a proud moment for Activity Centre when the doctors lauded the child sponsorship program and the volunteers for organising the camp. They also urged volunteers to conduct it on a larger scale and target more schools in the area. It was a fun day for us volunteers as well. Though we were tired after a day of running around filling forms and helping the doctors, spirits were high at the close of the camp.

The junior and senior volunteers alike deserve a pat on the back for their efforts and the camp’s success. Comgratulations, Activity Centre!