mybangalore

Art for the underprivileged at the Bornfree Art School, Bangalore

Posted by Prinahata  |  28. June 2011



‘Are you interested in an art workshop,
’ asked artist John Devaraj to a child living in penury. The child was awed and replied, ‘I really want to, but can I also bring my friends who would love to paint as well?’  The art workshop that started years ago has now been replicated to Bornfree Art School International in Kanakapura Road.  It is a special school created exclusively for street, working children and freed bonded labor children. John Devaraj has been incessantly working for issues of children for more than two decades now.

He is one of those rare artists in the recent times to catapult the issues concerning children. One day while he was painting, an arbitrary thought crossed his mind and made him wonder, “I was asking myself ‘what is my dream’ and I realized that my dream is to become a child again. And I think every artist is a child and every child is an artist,” says Devaraj who decided to give a new lease of life to the nonprivileged children.



The motto was simple ‘Each one teaches one’ and John soon brought the children together to build his school.  With the help of these little wonders he built ‘their’ school of eight classrooms. “I wanted these children to encourage other children towards education. And we built the school collecting cement and bricks from other children who were working near by,” says John who also gathered 3,000 students in Austin Town to make a sculpture which carried the message of ‘All children are the same’. John soon realized that small hands can make tall dreams.

The objective at Bornfree is to educate and develop these children through arts, putting them back into the main stream of education. Children learn sculpture, painting, dance, music, theater, photography and film-making along with reading, writing, and mathematics.  “Education through entertainment and the sharing of knowledge are the core aspects to our dynamic process of learning. Art is a therapeutic means for children from such difficult backgrounds to express themselves freely, regain the confidence and self respect as well as to generate interest in education,” states John.



John has also taken the children on a ‘History Expedition’ on cycle, where the kids pedaled around 4040km travelling to Karnataka, Goa and Tamil Nadu. “This was a trip mainly done in order to make the children understand their lives and their rich history. They recorded 20,000 photographic images of working children. The results of which were also presented in the National Parliament. The children also showed a presentation on working children,” says John who along with his kids also wrote the world’s largest love letter which was addressed to the children of Pakistan.

The letter read, ‘Dear children of Pakistan let us join hearts in Friendship. Together we can create a new world’. John Devaraj is extremely passionate about what he does and refuses to call Bornfree Art School a NGO. “The BASI is not the establishment of another school but a movement for the liberation of toiling children. Therefore participation in the learning and teaching processes is essential for personal development and child liberation,” says John who came as a boon to hundreds of children.  John appeals every individual to lend just Rs 365/- which would make it just one rupee every day. He also requests people to come forward and lend their support voluntarily to Bornfree. “I wish people can come forward and teach any subject of their choice to the children,” he concludes.

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