PPT in association with Xavier's Institue of Communication (XIC), Mumbai launched the first Free Diploma Course in Photography for Children of Conservancy Workers. The project aims to crush the decades old social cycle of these Manual Scavangeing jobs being passed on from generation to generation.
The PPT had been conducting workshops with the children since 2005, most of them were between the ages of 5-10 and a few older youth. The workshops were conducted by city based photographers Ravi Shekar, Atul Loke and Sudharak Olwe. These workshops conducted at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh were not only an learning experience for the children but also for the PPT team as we learnt so much about the community and their sufferings on a deeply personal level as the children shared stories of their daily lives through the camera we had given them. This being the early 2000’s we used film cameras. The children were taken through the entire process of developing film and then were also introduced to digital cameras.
The first workshops were an attempt to give the children a look into the world of media. Fascinated by the camera and the workshops, we had a successful series of workshops resulting in increased no. Of participants after every workshop. The word had spread in the community.
In the next 10 years, PPT conducted regular workshops with the same children, inviting photographers and mentors to guide them. They were shooting pictures of the city and their lives and learning to talk about their issues.
In early 2016, The Photography Promotion Trust and Xavier’s Institute of Communication came together to collaborate on the the first ever Diploma Course in Photography for Children of Conservancy workers which would be free of cost.
About XIC: XIC as its known, is one of India’s premier Media and Film institutes with courses in film, journalism and PR and produces outstanding individuals who go onto work for major media houses and corporates. The following were the main aims of the course:
Above all this, the most important aspect the PPT team focused on was to make the students more confident in public speaking, sharing thoughts and ideas. Coming from a background and a community that has been for decades neglected and kept on the sidelines of mainstream jobs and careers, the students find it difficult to shed the stigma attached to the community. As the course progressed, we saw an huge improvement in the confidence of many students and how they presented their work and ideas.
An extremely evil process of job creation exists in the system of conservancy workers. When a worker dies, his next to kin -usually the wife or elder child is given the job - a so called “Pity Case”, an evil system shrouded under the cloak of well-being. The family takes up the job because they get to keep their “Kholi” - small house allotted by the government. They take it up without any objections to the prevalent issues of the job, a job which comes with a retirement date that the worker does not live to see. Over the years, this system has become the norm and most of the children in the community think of it as an inevitable part of their life. In order to break this cycle, it is imperative to introduce a contrasting view point of the world, a questioning lens and the camera works like a tool to achieve exactly that. These children have never been given or had access to the opportunities of a globalised world. That needed to be changed.
What started as a way to get children, youth and even the adults to speak up about their community issues and demand action soon turned into a model of self-development for the children. The camera in their hands was not only a tool to talk about issues, it could well be a part of their livelihood.
“Me and Sudharak are friends for a quite long time now, and when he came to me to ask if XIC can provide facilities for a free course to the children of working class I went to my director and he happily agreed to that. We made it free and gave him the space because they were doing it for a good cause and I feel we all should help him with this to progress smoothly.During the course, one day I saw a picture clicked by one of the students, it was so terrifically good that I suggested that that picture should be sent to the “National Geography”. I went and personally congratulated the boy who clicked it and Sudharak knows about it. It shook me
and I felt so good that students are learning about it despite having problems with the equipments at the beginning.”
When we first met them, they were very unsure about themselves and once the workshops and everything was done they became so happy and strong which exactly you need in your life. I have seen a lot of children doing good for themselves after the workshop and it’s so nice to see that. It was a great learning for me too and helped me open up. Also, we went to some places which we never thought of going and shooting.
"If I didn’t go for the course, I would have become a BMC worker like my father. Because of
PPT I worked in DNA newspaper, Bollywood, Lokmat newspaper and now currently I am
working in Global Vipassana Pagoda International. My ancestors decided my job as BMC
worker but I chose to do something else and PPT helped me fulfill my dream."
I am a BMC worker and I know Sudharak sir from a long time now. He changed my children’s
life and many other people in my colony. I will be forever grateful to him. Now many
children of BMC workers took up photography as a profession and are very happy with their
life. After Sudharak sir’s photography people got to know that BMC workers doesn’t use
hand gloves or caps and how miserable our lives are but now we have the minimum
facilities. They are doing a great job and I salute them from my heart.
"Photography was something we never though of doing in our wildest lives because of our
family background but the free course by PPT changed our entire life. It enabled us to
choose something we like and also I believe they changed the lives of our next generation
"I met Sudharak sir and was a part of PPT from 2006. It changed everything for me, from
learning to present myself in front of people to talking in English and also about
photography of course. After that when I started mentoring people who belong to the
poor families, who had hundreds of problems in their lives, it was a very nice experience
and now when I see those students becoming a photographer, freelancer basically
standing on their own feet that’s something I cannot express."
"Whatever PPT is doing is doing is for a good cause with a good intention. It has changed me
as a person and also a lot of kids who could never afford learning photography. It is a great
feeling to see the students whom you mentored doing so well in life right now."
As a non-profit, all resources go towards funding workshops and other educational/documentation activities. You can donate any amount to support our different projects or invite us to conduct workshops for you or your institute. We are also looking for long-term funding to mount national projects in communities across the country.