The story of Kamya Dargan, Founder of MY PERCH
Childhood, a time in an individual’s life, when there’s an insatiable hunger for answers to everything, the will and the time to play all day and the inquisitiveness to explore the delightful treasures that the world. But if we look closely, we can see that there are millions, who are deprived of these subtle nuances of childhood. They are bereft of education, basic health, a free space to grow and a place just to have fun!
Observing this tragic lack of a space, where children from different background and communities can be in their true self, Kamya Dargan decided to act for it. Raised in Haridwar, Kamya was a corporate sales trainer in Noida. Unhappy with her choice of profession, she always yearned to do something where she can explore herself. This dissatisfaction led her to leave her job and unexpectedly join the ICICI Rural fellowship. It was here, that she understood her true calling.
Working in the slums and villages she realized the need for a safe and nurturing space for children where they are free to learn whatever they like. The aim of such a space with her idea of a library where children, especially those from a deprived background, such as the children who live in slums, whose parents are ragpickers and beggars. These children usually end up on the streets and become easy prey to anti-social aspects of the society. The idea got appreciated and was supported by the Changelooms Fellowship, a year long fellowship which provides technical, monetary and social mentorship to a group of talented social entrepreneurs. After the fellowship, she decided to take the project to the next step.
She decided to give shape to her yearned place for children where they are free to be themselves. That’s how My Perch, a space where kids can read books, learn Art and Crafts, play games, solve puzzles, Draw and discuss freely came into existence. Boosted by weekly activities like Poetry and creative writing sessions, comic creation and Yoga Sessions, My Perch became a cocoon of hope for these kids and gave them a solace beyond their brute worlds. As the interactions increased, the space was able to delve deeper into the diseased lives of these children. When they conducted some gender and violence, a new wave of problems came into the light. Problems of violence at home and school and how deeply has this sort of abuse ruptured them, both physically and psychologically. They used storytelling to bring out and heal these memories of fear, pain and angst. How even a single word of explicit variety can scar these children for life. Kamya decided to find out more about these issues and use My Perch not only as a vehicle to achieve a constructive leisure and learning for these children, but also a solution to their perpetual angst. At this juncture she came across UNMANIFESTO – which was a nationwide campaign initiated by CYC- PRAVAH and supported by UNFPA in the year 2014 and was run for a period of 3 months in 2015. With the objective of engaging youth participation in the political process, bringing social inclusion and effectively involving government bodies for a change, this campaign ran across 20 states and Union Territories of the country.
It was UNMANIFESTO which gave a direction to her work, helped her overcome the cynicism towards the government and taught her how to include governance with her work. She opened up a process of dialogue with authorities and officials like MLA Vimla Batham and the City magistrate of Noida. She has now started her work to streamline these issues with the District Child protection committee and has also included the school management committee in the process.
In a course of just 6 months, Kamya has worked with around 60 children and worked on their issues single-handedly. When asked about the impact of her work, she says her work will actually make an impact only when parents are awake about such transgressions towards their child due to their own actions. And this applies not only to those of the underprivileged background, but also to the ones of a privileged scenario. A child has the right to play, to sing, to study, to have fun and to live freely without any violation. It is upon us to fulfil these promises to give our children the life they deserve.
Story by : Tuhin Sen
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