TAP’s Journey to Bhopal…

By | March 21, 2012

December 15, 2011: We made it!


Wow… It is so hard to concentrate here to write a blog, and I can’t even begin to express my thoughts right now. It’s pretty overwhelming… but I’ll give it a try.

I’m here… TAP is here… in Bhopal, India! After 3 years, I made it…we made it…

Is it bad to say I did not experience a huge culture shock? I don’t know if it’s my previous experiences, or if the media that did me in. We drove in a car, and passed by dirt roads, cows, goats and TONS of people on motorcycles. I took it all in… the sights, the sounds, and the smells.

Entrance to Sambhavna Clinic, Bhopal, India

More to come…

Much love, Rox

December 20, 2011: The Program Begins

Finding Sambhavna, our program location, was not easy. Abeer (our translator and Bob’s cousin, who met us at the airport) even got lost and had to ask locals! We drove down these tiny roads… the car was too big! Finally, we arrived at Sambhavna.

Sambhavna is beautiful. It’s huge. It’s incredible. The atmosphere is wonderful, and everyone working there is so kind. It was after Abeer left for the first time that we realized we definitely needed translator! The language barrier is very difficult, but we are doing best to communicate with each other. Our first volunteer meeting was interesting. Although we thought our program ideas had been communicated via e-mail, we still had to pitch it to the entire clinic staff. Sambhavna runs like a true democracy. During all the meetings we attended, someone different was taking minutes or leading the meeting. After hearing some of our ideas, we got the go ahead to begin our program!

We decided on a 9×5 mural that will go on the inside of the clinic, so rain will not destroy it. We also brainstormed some immediate ideas of what the mural will entail. This list (after a few days) had over 50 suggestions from clinic staff and clinic users! We also talked about photography, visual art and other fun activities and concluding with a photo and art gallery at the end of our program, and of course – unveiling the mural.

Painting at Sambhavna with Participants

We turned the “round house” in the back of the clinic into an arts workshop space, every day from 10am-230pm! This was the program… and it was going to begin! We put up some signs in Hindi and English saying “Art in progress, all are welcome”. The first day was incredible. We had about 5 or so kids in the morning, and some parents. The afternoon was super busy. Since the first day, it has exploded. More than 50 people are participating in some way. We have multiple stations running at the same time. We have bracelet making with Halyna, Visual Art with Jamez, and Photography with Rox. Lately, Jamez has been working on the mural upstairs so we changed it up a bit. We kinda just go with the flow.

During our second Wednesday… we ran out of beads, but that was ok! Photography is still a hit, and so is visual art. The kids feel they need to draw with rulers and pencils. No going “outside the lines”! We’re trying to break that. We’re feeling ambitious.

Much love,

The Team

December 25, 2011: Our Last Days…

There is no doubt in my mind that this is where TAP needs to be right now. Everything about Bhopal… just clicks. There is something special about these people, and this place. Two weeks is not enough, I can tell already! – Rox

The TAP program is officially finished. Our last day was Saturday. We created an art gallery for Sat/Sun/Monday for everyone to enjoy. We printed 300 photos that the participants took (they can take them home Monday) and put up over 50 pieces of visual art. Yes, Rox still has our Justin Beiber dance party on video – but that will be a private collection!! Great program, executed well. We set goals, and reached those goals. Beautiful journey…

We will miss everyone in Bhopal very much. The clinic staff, who is now family. The neighbourhood children and families.

We’re here…we’re staying…all is good…

The goal… return December 2012.

Sambhavna – Possibilities

Much love and respect,

TAP India Pilot Project Team

Jamez Townsend, Halyna Sopinka-Miller, Abeer Ahmad Siddiqui and Rox Chwaluk 

The Bhopal Mural:

This mural was created and developed by the participants of the 2011 TAP India Pilot Project Program under the creative direction of visual artist Jamez Townsend. Alongside facilitators, participants of the program included clinic users, Sambhavna staff, and local children. The mural depicts the past, present and future of the Bhopal Gas Disaster as seen through the eyes of the participants. It is both a reflection and a constructive reminder of the horrors that took place that night.

 Read more about TAP’s Journey to India in this article featured in the Brock Alumni Newsletter: http://www.brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=15555!

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