Creativity Instead of Resignation

Prabodhini Street Theatre

Creative Project

The Indian democracy concedes equal chances and equal rights to each human being.  But if living in slum conditions it means enormous efforts to realize the human right of personal development. In an environment characterized by poverty, ignorance, superstition and the law of the jungle, women and children are given a hard time. For many of them a peaceful life, enabling them to learn, be creative and consciously assume their rights, is only a distant dream. Without an exterior impulse and capacity building it is nearly impossible to affect the own living conditions positively. Too often, only resignation and fatalism are remaining.

Prabodhini, is a project in Nagpur helping first and foremost women and children to become proactive and to stand up for themselves. Karuna Deutschland supports this project by calling attention to deficiencies with uncommon methods and then also helps to change the people´s conditions of living.

The project, developed and conducted by Dhammacharini Abhayadana and her team, consists of three main sectors:

Perceiving One´s Own Abilities


With street theatre, chanting and music in accordance with their ancient traditions the storytellers are rambling through the villages of Maharashtra and in the meantime even through the slums of Nagpur in Central India. Emphatically and humorously they demonstrate the often unnoticed aspects of the cheerless day-to-day life:

  • The discrimination against women by claiming higher and higher marriage-portions even after years of marriage by means of psychological and physical violence.
  • The decision to abort female foetuses because girls later on stand for a possible financial ruin of the own family due to the dowry demands of the future family in-law.
  • Domestic violence by husbands: 45 per cent of the Indian women are beaten by their husbands or his relatives; in the slums the rate increases to 75 per cent.
  • Women and children are suffering from alcohol dependency or other drug addictions of their familymen – poverty and domestic abuse often are inevitable consequences.
  • Superstition based on ignorance and lack of education is of great importance in slums and villages. Charlatans of all kinds charge a lot of money, and their dubious advice often lead to further violence or health hazards even causing death.
  • In the slums old age often implies begging for one´s own livelihood. – Here the traditional extended family often collapses or is too poor to support the elderly.

Strenghtening the Women

150 girls and women of the slums and villages around Nagpur aged between 14 and 40 will be informed of their capabilities and rights in workshops. They also undergo training in self-defence, health education and sex education. The project assistants can advise the women on their personal circumstances.

In cooperation with the local authorities training courses for those women are offered who wish to have their own income by small business enterprises.

Quite a number of Buddhists are living in Nagpur and its environs. They mostly belong to the poorest ranks of the former "untouchables". It is especially important for them to be confirmed in their awareness that poverty and oppression are not  fate of caste but result of social traditions. Therefore these are not divinely ordained but man-made. For many "dalits" this was the main reason for conversion to Buddhism. And they are highly in need not only of social but as well of spiritual countenance. Hence there is a component in this project having regard to this necessity and combining the Buddhist teaching with the emphasize on human rights and on practical education.

Health Camps For Children

During school holidays there are camps for children aged between 5 and 14  to help them develop physically, psychologically and mentally as well as possible, in spite of their frequently difficult homely environment. Children living in orphanages are regularly visited. In the camps children coming from slums and children of well-to-do families, often even with a different background of caste, play and learn together.

This project can revert to an amount of experiences with groups of volunteers coming from similar living conditions.They have already learned to stand on their own. Many of them find great satisfaction in now sharing their own positive experiences.

Prabhodhinisupports people, especially women and children, to work their way out of burdening social conditions on their own initiative. Instead of giving up hope and resigning themselves to a life in poverty, illiteracy and often in violence, despite of all difficulties there arises creativity and enjoyment of life and a self-confident trust in their own capabilities.