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An international cultural soiree in Odisha

14th Anjali National Children Festival witnessed the participation of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Statesman News Service | Bhubaneswar |

From a humble begining in 2001 as a state disability
information and resource centre, “ Swabhiman” has grown in leaps and bounds
hosting the only international children’s festival of the country scheduled on
14 November with five international teams and 700 participants. Overcoming all
odds, “Swabhiman” reflects the undaunting spirit of its chief executive Dr
Sruti Mohapatra who started it all with just 70 participants. Established in
2001, “Swabhiman’s” work is grounded in a rights based framework which links
disability issues to a full range of civil, political, economic, social and
cultural rights.

Swabhiman’s main activities are advocacy, research,
information dissemination, training, capacity building and awareness. Its focus
areas are inclusive education, access, employment, arts, leisure, recreation
and sports. From last 14 years “Swabhiman” organises a children festival
“Anjali” bringing children with disabilities and children without disabilities
together for five days in an inclusive camp in Bhubaneswar.

 In 2002 “Anjali”
stretched its hand towards the mainstream students and got participants outside
Odisha, hence making it national. In 2003, it reached out to involve young
minds (students of different college and universities) for volunteering in the
festival and the next year it was a national children festival and has never
looked back. It established itself as a model for inclusive and joyful learning
in 2005 and went on adding value each year. In 2010 mini India was made in the

In 2011 “Anjali” became more colourful and got visibility by
walking on the roads of the city in a “Carnival” along with cultural
performances and organisation of children film festival. In the year 2012 it
got the tag “International Children’s Festival” Last year in 14th Anjali national
children’s festival witnessed the participation of two neighbouring countries –
Srilanka and Bangladesh, 17 states and all 30 districts of Odisha making the
number 1100. 3500 students from local schools visited camp and were sensitised
to the issues of children with special needs. 1500 children watched films on
disability in the film festival. 20 resource persons conducted 17 workshops and
31 guests addressed campers. The camp starts with carnival and inauguration
with a cultural program “Indradhanush”, performances by the participants.

Resource persons from
different corners of the country entertain and teach participants making beauty
out of limited resources and providing them joyful learning in open classrooms
in workshops like art, craft, dance, music, yoga, clowning, ventriloquism, mask
making, pottery and terracotta, jewellery making, theatre etc .

A sensitisation session is done for students from mainstream
by which they understand and experience disability by sitting on a wheelchair
and becoming blindfolded for covering a couple of meters. The competitions are
organised in the camp for the participants to participate show their talents,
impress the jury and to win the prizes. Dance, music, art, collage, science
module etc. Anjali is celebrating its 15th Year , this year, with five
international teams and around 700 participants. 13 workshops will be held at
the camp from from 14 to 18 November.