AWARENESS PROGRAM ON THE RIGHTS OF DOMESTIC WORKERS THROUGH STREET PLAY

Goal and objects of the performing the street plays.

The goal of the performance is to make Domestic Workers as capacity builder, empower them, bring dignity to them and make them as catalysts.

The objects :

1. To foster the values and dignity of Domestic Workers.
2. To empower the Domestic Workers and make them knowledgeable and skillful.
3. Struggle for just wages, work hours, rest and leave, recognition as workers.
4. Foster values of unity, integrity, cohesiveness in upbringing values and make them able and useful persons and march towards progress.
5. Make them stand by themselves to organize activities for their own development.

Effects of the programme
Effects/outcome of the program as per the indicators.

1. Awareness is created among the Domestic Workers.
2. The Domestic Workers feel more confident.
3. Brought to the notice of the government.
4. Awareness created among the public.
5. Enthusiasm and interest is created among the Domestic Workers.
6. Ray of hope is given to the Domestic Workers.

Means of verification

Meet the people at the place of performance.
Can contact Asst. Commissioner of Labour.

Impact of the program

1. Consciousness is raised in the Domestic Workers.
2. Domestic Workers are made to see their own responsibilities for their liberation.
3. Public and politician see Domestic Workers as issue now and want to bring a bill as unorganized workers.

Purpose of performance of street plays

The purpose of performance of street plays is to create awareness among the Domestic Workers through street plays in 20 slums of Vijayawada aiming at empowerment of Domestic Workers and unity among themselves.

Preparation

We first thought to teach young Domestic Workers street play, so that they can continue the effect of creating awareness even after the program. But we could not realize this, as many Domestic Workers and their husbands did not agree to late night programs in the slums. Actually there were days we reached home at 12 p.m. Usually we came back at 11.30 p.m, but sometimes it became even more late. For this kind of timing the parents/husbands of the young girls as well as the Domestic Workers themselves did not agree.
Then we approached “JAGRUTHI” an Voluntary organization for their street play group to give training to the Ideas group in street play, which they gladly agreed to do.

Visit

We also took time to visit the slums to contact elders, youth clubs and women groups as well as our target group Domestic Workers before we performed the play. This process was done three months before we performed the play and then again we visited the slum the day before the performance took place.

Training on street play

From August 24th to September 1st 2003 was the eight-day training on street play techniques and creating the play on the problems faced by the Domestic Workers to twenty actors, out of which nine were female and eleven were male.
The training took place in Christurajapuram in Vijayawada at the premises of Jagruthi an youth voluntary organization. Fr. Immanuel S.J. Vice Principal of Loyola College, Vijayawada is the director of this voluntary organization. We are happy that Fr. Immanuel S.J. came during the training to encourage the participants. During these days we discussed again and again how we can create an impact in the lives of Domestic Workers as well as in the public. The eight days were spent in learning not only street play techniques, but also learning songs on the problems of Domestic Workers. During these eight days the process of internalizing the problems of Domestic Workers took place by sharing our work with Domestic Workers.

Performance of the street play

At about 6 p.m. we arrive at the place, where we have to perform the street play, to arrange the light and sound system. We also meet the women leaders, youth and elders to cooperate with us.
Then about 7 p.m. the actors arrive and then they take the drum and with a beautiful welcome beat with a crowd of children visit the entire slum, announcing the performance of the street play, which contains songs, dances, jokes and the message to the Domestic Workers. Due to this short rally, the entire slum dwellers come to know the time, venue of the performance of the street play.

Before the performance of the play the troupe sing a song of welcome to all people. Then they sing three to four songs on the lives of Domestic Workers. By this time the crowd is grown more and the performance can take place in front of many people. After the performance the actors mix with the crowd seeking reflections, reactions and responses from the audience.

Participation of target group

In many of the slums the leadership emerged from the Domestic Workers themselves by gathering the crowd, arranging the chairs and fixing the place for the performance of the street play. In some places for our surprise the Domestic Workers even gave refreshments to the street play troupe. During the performance of the play the Domestic Workers maintained the discipline such as keeping the little children in order, seeing that they do not run and shout during the performance.

After the performance the audience shared their feelings and views on the street play.

Some of the views shared by the Domestic Workers after the play:

Shakuntala (32 years): play is excellent. The injustice and exploitation that is taking place to the Domestic Workers is shown in the play. You have really understood us well.

Rama Devi (19 years): Play is good. Domestic Worker dies by hanging to death though that is not her fault this touched her heart. If we are united, we can achieve lot.

Appalamma (29 years): Though the play is good there are many who perform the play, but never meet us after that.

Subbalakshmi (32 years): The plays you perform never solve our problems.

Ramulamma (42 years): My daughter’s life is exactly like in the play. She receives beating and they never give salary in time.

Rajya Lakshmi (30 years): Play is good. The real issues are highlighted in the play.

Padma (37 years): If you help us financially it will be real help, not just performing the play on us.

Subbamma (39 years): There will be awareness through this play and keep on searching other methods of awareness.


Difficulties and constrains

The first difficulty was to make the male persons of the family to convince to send girls/women for training and performance of the street play. Though we did not succeed in getting Domestic Workers we managed other girls to agree to be in the street play troupe.

While performing the play in the slum, there were many drunkards who disturb the atmosphere and wanted to speak and act instead of the actors. We always approached an elder leader in the slum before the play to ask for his assistance to control disturbance thus, these drunkards were well taken by their own people of the slums.

As we have no vehicle it took long time to reach home – sometimes even after mid night and at 1 a.m.

Continuity and sustainability of the project

As National Domestic Workers Movement is present in Vijayawada City and this project is done with their cooperation there is hope and guarantee in continuity and sustainability of the project.
The aim of the project was to create awareness in the Domestic Workers through street plays. This process is completed and now next phase is visiting the Domestic Workers, forming into union and designing and implementing programs through their groups is to be done by the NDWM organization and they are committed for this work and are already doing so.

Gist of the play

The incidents that are portrayed really happened in the City of Vijayawada

1st scene: All the actors sit in a circle and order the Domestic Worker to do house chores. She will be doing what others say and as the employers give orders faster and faster she will run and run at last totally exhausted she falls to the ground (song on her plight)

2nd scene : Though the Domestic Worker did not steal the gold chain, the employer blames her and the Domestic Worker is harassed in the police station for days and days. Due to shame she commits suicide. Later the truth comes out, that the employer’s son himself had stolen the chain to give a grand party for his friends (song)

3rd scene : A child Domestic Worker is raped and killed. (song)

4th scene : Torture of physical nature and torture by means of psychological nature. (song)

5th scene : A meeting of Domestic Workers takes place and they decide to form union to fight for their rights until death. (song)

It takes one hour to perform the play and another 15 minutes to interact with the audience.



IDEAS (initiatives in development, empowerment, and awareness society) sincerely thanks all those people involved in the preparation and performance of Street Play in the Vijayawada City, in Andhra Pradesh.

We are grateful to CARITAS INDIA who financed the performance of the Street Plays in the City of VIJAYAWADA, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA.

We do thank and appreciate

Fr. P. Balaswamy
Executive Director of Social Service Centre, who encourages us constantly and who is a channel to receive funds from CARITAS India.

Sr. Jeanne Devos
The national coordinator of the National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM), who introduced me to involve in the lives of Domestic Workers and also for contributing financially to bring out our book-let.

Mr. Avvari Antaiah
Who wrote powerful awareness songs in Telugu, which are more useful for the empowerment of Domestic Workers.

Further we thank,
Fr. Koshy, Executive Director of Navajeevan Balabhavan Fr. Noel Harpar of Care & Share, Mr. Balaraju of Jagruthi, and his team, Ms. Shalini of Child Line, Mr. G. Prasad of A.P. Craf, Vijayawada and Sr. Lissy Joseph regional coordinator of NDWM, Hyderabad and the Staff of NDWM, Tiruvuru.

Ms. Juliane Wintz, German volunteer and Mr. Frank Joussen who contributed a poem on Domestic workers.

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