Shanti Bhavan - Full of Heart

It was a Friday night, and my mind was yet to slow down from the hectic schedule the day had to offer. I was not in a mood for anything except to resort to Netflix under the disguise of book research. I have been losing interest in the fictional web series off late, especially the Indian ones.

It seems to me that the production houses have found an elixir combination of sex, cursing & obscenity to be the trump card of success. The protagonist is typically a known face in the industry and yes there always remains a transgender character or a somebody similar to make the series or supposed to make the series enjoyable. I am not stereotyping the Indian series, but I am almost there.

I have resorted to documentaries off late, and interestingly I have found that they get made with the same dedication as that of any leading series, especially in Netflix. One such example which I wanted to quote and talk about is the documentary called “Daughters of destiny”.

I stumbled across " Daughters of Destiny" when I was browsing across documentaries on women’s life for my next book. Initially, I thought “Daughters of Destiny to be a documentary on the life of an underprivileged girl child; however, it turned out to be more than that. This four-part limited documentary despite being not my subject of interest, succeeded in making me watch it till the end.

Daughters of Destiny

The documentary details the life of five girls, namely ThenMozhi, Kartika, Preetha, Manjula and Shilpa. All these kids are underprivileged and belong to the so-called deprived caste of society.

The writer and director, Vanessa Roth, had shot this over seven years. However, the old clippings and pictures make you feel that it had been shot way beyond seven years. The video introduces Thenmozhi as the four-year English-speaking underprivileged girl. In contrast, the other girls are on their verge of completing their education and are beginning to embark on a new journey.

All these girls get an opportunity to learn, live and love at Shanti Bhavan. Shanti Bhavan takes care of their 17 years of school education expenses and even most of their college education as well. They take upon themselves the onus of getting the kids employed.

Shanti Bhavan is supporting the parents of the kids as well not by just sponsoring their child but also them through the child’s stipend. This was apparent when Kartika, one of the five girls in the documentary and incidentally my favourite one, offers her mother the two thousand rupees which were left out of her stipend money.

Her mother, who makes ends meet by breaking stones in a quarry refuses it with a smile. This conveys the emotional turmoil; these people undergo living in a house which hardly lets them spread their arms.

Shanti Bhavan

The Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project was founded in 1997 in Bangalore by the Indian-American businessman Abraham George. It is a boarding school that accepts 24 preschool students a year and provides free education (and food and housing) through 12th grade.

Shanti Bhavan is an educational institution and a social experiment: a demonstration that Dalits can thrive academically, a proposition that still needs proving in India, and an attempt to pull Dalits out of poverty by preparing children for jobs that can support their extended families.

Mr Abraham George decided to sell the successful business he had established in the USA to create Shanti Bhavan, the dream of his life. He started this institution at the beginning of his 50th age and presently is more than 70. His son Ajit George currently is assisting him in his service.

Shanti Bhavan – A Dream

Shanti Bhavan is a dream. Witnessing these underprivileged speaking out their mind in perfect English is a delight to watch. I don’t want to get into an argument if someone questions English as a substitute for knowledge. My understanding, at least with the Shanti Bhavan children is their lucidity of expression and their ability to dream, which speaks volume about the knowledge that got imparted into them.

Volunteers across the borders take delight in teaching the children. I feel this must be one of the significant advantages this organisation has compared to any other international boarding schools in the country. The founder Mr George along with his team of teachers and staff are more of a family than an enterprise.