MADURAI: Slums in Madurai are not as squalid as they are in bigger cities. Yet, there are heaps of filth lying unattended by the municipal workers. Dr C Jim Jesudass walks through the narrow bylanes unmindful of the squalor.
Close to 30 years, Jim (55), who has a PhD in Child rights, has been working more than half his life to brighten the lives of children as he continues his efforts to uplift kids from slum areas. Always cheerful, he has been spreading awareness and teaching kids skills that give them self-esteem and opportunities to make it big is his sole mission.
Sakthi Vidiyal, an NGO founded and run by Jim, has been working on children’s rights for the last 28 years by imparting media education to 400 children from eight slums and providing a platform for their participation. To ensure that the kids accept it as their own, the NGO operates a Child Education Centre inside or near each of the slums. Each centre has rooms and facilities for activities, games and meetings.
“We are working in eight slums in Madurai for the welfare and holistic development of children living in them. We have been designing novel programmes to cater to their physical, social, psychological and intellectual developmental needs,” Jim said.
Apart from conducting workshops and fun activities, the NGO helped a group of children from the eight slums direct and release six short films on six different themes - treatment of girls and boys at home, challenges faced by girl children in society (including child marriage), ill effects of drug use, addiction to online games, child labour and cyber safety. Apart from creating awareness, the films have given these underprivileged children the exposure and chance to work in films.
Prior to producing these short films, a workshop was organized by the NGO to kindle interest in short film making among children in October 2021.“The objective was to impart skills in digital media, enable children to discover their latent talents, encourage children to express their thoughts, views and concerns through the digital media platforms including short films and also develop an attitude among children to use digital media for child rights advocacy,” he said.
“27 children who participated in the workshop brainstormed as six teams and wrote scripts for their short films. We provided them with technical support which enabled them to hone their skills in acting and directing the films,” added Jim.
P Kabilan, a Class XII student, who acted in one of the short films, said that it gave him a chance to express his thoughts and views. “The six short films come under the theme karuppu kaiyeluthu (black signature) and earlier batches of students created eight short films under the theme Drums of the dark and six short films under the theme Shadow angle,” he said.
K Janarthanan, a Class X student, who directed a short film, said that before filming began, the children deliberated on the plot before finalizing the script and screenplay. “Shooting such films will increase our self-esteem, create opportunities for us to discover our potential and recognition among friends,” he said.
M Nivetha, Class X student, and D Abi Ssakthi, Class XII student, both who acted in short films, said that the efforts by the NGO is creating opportunities for children to express themselves using digital media.
The films which have a run time of less than five minutes can be watched on the YouTube channel Vidiyal Madurai.