Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lord of the Dance

We talk about inclusion all the time. It's a concept, it's an issue, it's a right, it's an imperative.

At Latika Vihar, it's just the way it is. That means it may be funny and endearing (that's what we hope) or disturbing and worrying (and that we just accept and try to sort out). Today I saw both. One little girl who hurts herself repeatedly and brutally. Today she came in with her eye swollen shut and bruises all over her face. It's upsetting for everyone - the woman who looks after her followed her around helplessly, trying to distract her with the things she liked to hold yesterday, which, if she has in her hands, prevent her from punching herself. Today, those things weren't working. The other children were distressed; the whole staff was worried. We will speak with her parents, with our doctor, with a teacher who has a special bond with this child. We will figure it out. Or we won't. One of the things we keep learning is that not all problems can be solved. Some things must be endured. But we do it with love and with kindness and we try to make up for the unfairness in as many ways as we can.

Sometimes, thank God, inclusion is easy.

Here's our boy Saurabh, joining in the dance session:

He's confident enough to try out his own moves:

And he is clearly pleased with his results:

But learning to dance well is demanding. It requires discipline.

and concentration

before you can strike out on your own . . .

But once you've got it:

Oh, man, you've got it . . .

Saurabh's teacher - did you notice? - is a child not much older than he is. She's been coming to Latika Vihar since she was very small and she has taken in the idea of inclusion so naturally she couldn't begin to explain it to you. It would be like explaining how she breathes.

She listens when he speaks to her. It's really that simple.


shipra said...

Honestly Jo, Latika demonstrates!God bless all who are there....wish for many more such places around...

ana @ i made it so said...

there's a reality/competition type of show here (not sure if you get it) called 'so you think you can dance?' he certainly does, just from the look on his face! and beautiful last photo there. you capture those fleeting and special moments so well.

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Oh, Shipra, we miss you there so much!!!

ana - thanks! I was so lucky to get these shots - there were so many children and it was a melee of legs and flailing arms. Sometimes the fates conspire!

Peter Phun said...

These are so precious. At the heart of these pictures is a great story teller. Your wonderful images embody the spirit of what photojournalists everywhere strives to capture.

Congratulations on a job well done, Jo. You will have some wonderful images for next year's calendar.

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Peter, thanks so much. It means the world to me coming from you!