EKATVA is coming! Indian slum children take Gandhi's message of ‘Oneness’ to UK stages

Sixteen children from slums in India are giving their UK premiere performances of EKATVA, a show inspired by the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

EKATVA, which means ‘Oneness,’ is a pilgrimage by these young global ambassadors, aged between 11 and 17, to spread the message of compassion, service and unity through a multi-media dance-drama production performed in English in London, Birmingham and Leicester from June 18th 2012.

Organised by Manav Sadhna, a non-profit organisation based in the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the EKATVA journey began 2 and half years ago with auditions of more than 8,000 children from Ahmedabad’s four main slum communities.

Over nine months, sixteen children were selected: some made the grade because of their good hearts, others danced well or had good acting talent, some were inspirational team players and others just had really tough life situations.

The overall aim was to nurture a deep transformation in the spirit and lives of the children and those involved, and demonstrate the potential for all children to shine if given the opportunity and proper support. During their UK stay the children will also be volunteering and making connections with charitable organisations.

Together with the creative support of Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, the EKATVA show and experiment has been directed by Nimesh Patel, a Business School graduate and gifted hip-hop artist from the United States.

Nimesh, who has been volunteering with Manav Sadhna for more than two years, says:

“This has been a journey of personal transformation for me and an opportunity to plant seeds of love and transformation in the hearts of these kids. It’s an experiment to share with the world and powerful message that will hopefully inspire others to connect and give back to the underprivileged children of our world.”

Each EKATVA child has faced the daily challenges of living below the poverty line. Each has a unique story. Dharmaji used to pick rags in a rough slum and looked after his father’s donkeys that carried dirt. He never cared about school and was beaten by his elder sisters. He got connected to Manav Sadhna through their street school program, auditioned for EKATVA and was selected to give him a chance to grow up in a different environment and improve his prospects. Things are picking up. Recently, Dharamaji was being forced to get married, but because of his mentor’s relationship with his parents, they were convinced otherwise. Now, he is excited about education, and everyone talks about how he used to be, who he now is, and how his whole spirit has changed for the better.

EKATVA’s UK international tour is being organised by UK-based charity, Connect India which has had a long-term relationship with Manav Sadhna. Connect India’s Ani Develi says:

“We believe that not only will the lives of these children be transformed but they will act as role models and an inspiration to all those around them.”

www.ekatva.org

According the United Nations…

…about 1 out of every 6 human beings on this planet lives in poverty with many living in slum areas. Slum life has many challenges including heavy population density, poor infrastructure, low income, illiteracy, scarcity of food, and a diverse array of health and sanitation issues, amongst the many others.

Manav Sadhna

Manav Sadhna is a non-profit organisation which is dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children. Based at Ahmedabad’s Gandhi Ashram today it serves more than 8,400 children and women daily through 38 projects tackling issues like education, health, employment and empowerment. Manav Sadhna is guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s unshakable beliefs in peace, truth, non-violence and compassion. Every year Manav Sadhna attracts over 100 volunteers internationally to work on various projects.

www.manavsadhna.org

Darpana Academy of Performing Arts

Darpana Academy of Performing Arts is an arts institution with a vision to show that arts play a vital role in human development. It welcomes artists from all countries, traditions, and walks of life to come together and use art for the betterment of humanity. Darpana uses Indian dance, puppetry, music and theatre to raise awareness on contemporary issues.

www.darpana.com

Connect India

Connect India is the UK-based charity which has organised the UK tour. It aims to raise awareness through service-based programmes and build connections between Britain and India though programmes that involve engaging with India’s diverse population.

www.connectindia.org