Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) India launched workshops for the wives, daughters, sisters and mothers of police constables who courageously protected lives during the 26/11 attacks. Held at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana, Charni Road, the workshops were attended by a group of 65 mothers and children ranging in age from nine to 70.
Since sports are an innovative way of helping victims deal with stress, the day began with a swimming workshop where the women learnt to swim together to build a sense of community. SAVE had earlier conducted similar classes with women in the coastal areas.
What’s in a name?
In the storytelling workshop, trainer Anne Carr, a dialogue practitioner from Northern Ireland, made participants share the meanings of their names, which she insisted were connected to their personalities. Surprisingly, many participants didn’t even know the meaning of their names.
Within the two-hour exercise, the women began visibly bonding. In another workshop, innovative tools like rangoli colours and beads were used to get participants talking. Jyoti, wife of inspector Vilas Joshi, felt that it was the first time that she had the opportunity to reflect and talk about herself.
“The responses and reactions to this workshop will set the ground for a global campaign, Mothers For Change, that will travel from here to Pakistan, Yemen and then Indonesia,” said Dr Edit Schlaffer, founder of SAVE.
Children are often ignored in the process of dealing with violent extremism. Elaine Hargrove, from SAVE Global, used creative media to help the children release their emotions. Drawings of the terrorists and the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers provided an insight into what they were going through.
Taj, symbol of terror Documentary director and president of SAVE India, Archana Kapoor said, “We started the workshop by asking the children to identify some black and white pictures. It was shocking to find out that the children did not recognise the zoo, Regal Cinema, or Marine Lines, but they all recognised the Taj Hotel. For these children, it has become a symbol of terror, which is horrifying.”
Insisting that these workshops were a way to release the children’s stress, she added, “Despite being wives of officers, these women have never had a chance to speak. These workshops are about giving them a voice and it’s fascinating because they have been able to vent all their suppressed emotions and thoughts.”