The Jyot Project, launched in July 2012, aims to spread the ‘flame (jyot) of awareness’ of social issues in villages and remote regions through the performance of street plays by the school children of Sayla. If knowledge is power then raising awareness of social and health issues at the village level could lead to a dramatic shift in self empowerment.
Prevention is better than cure
The first Jyot project focused on key issues around the health of pregnant mothers, both before and after giving birth. Understanding of the key issues is lacking, made worse by superstitions and bad practices. As a result the rate of maternal and infant mortality is very high in rural villages.
It was decided that a colourful street play explaining the precautions that need to be taken by mothers would bring the messages to life. A 30 minute play was written and directed by skilled professionals in Mumbai under the guidance and leadership of Brahmnisht Vikrambhai Shah. This was then performed by female students from the LMV High School and College.
Full of humour and simple, practical tips, the play has been an instant hit with an audience of 600 in Vadiya village and 500 in Kerala village. The plan now is to take it to as many villages as possible across the Sayla district.
The positive impacts of the new awareness can already be seen. In Vadiya the very next day many pregnant women who had previously avoided regular check ups went to the hospital to be checked. Others are now asking authorities to receive benefits from government schemes that they are now aware of, such as free iodized salt during pregnancy.
Their play ‘Stri Jivan ni Katokati’ was aired on Rajkot Radio ‘Akashwani’ in February 2013 and heard throughout Gujarat and Mumbai.
‘Jeevi Le Jara’, Live a little
This second Jyot project focuses on the issues of alcohol addiction: physical, psychological and social.
‘Jeevi Le Jara’ was first performed by students of Nalanda School, Sayla (Gujarat) along with professional artists from Ahmedabad in 4 villages and in front of 128 Sayla district school principals. After receiving a great response from villagers, the play was aired on national television by Doordarshan Girnar and telecast across India, U.A.E and Saudi Arabia and continues to be shown in villages and local TV channels.
Though consuming alcohol is banned in Gujarat, it is widely sold on the grey market. The poor quality of illegally sold alcohol is extremely detrimental to mental and physical health of the consumer. Much of the anti-social behaviour and domestic violence is attributed to excessive alcohol consumption.
Jyot project aims to cover many more social issues in the coming years.