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Dancing With Street Children in New Delhi, India. Video!

We didn't expect a huge dance party at the shelter, but it was great!

We didn’t expect a huge dance party at the shelter, but it was great!

When I heard we would be visiting a famous shelter for street children on our first day in New Delhi, India, I pictured doing some tranquil arts and crafts projects, or reading a few good books with the kids. What I never expected was what actually occurred: a full-out dance party!

The children and staff were all very friendly.

The children and staff were all very friendly.

Our teacher group had started the day with an intense walking tour of the Paharganj neighborhood of New Delhi and we were in a pretty somber mood as we arrived at Salaam Baalak Trust: a respected network of shelters and resources for street children in New Delhi. The door creaked open and we trudged up the blue stairway.

Walking up the stairs to Salaam Baalak Trust.

Walking up the stairs to Salaam Baalak Trust.

Instead of exiting the stairs at the floor in which we could see a classroom, however, our guide kept climbing. Up and up we walked, until the last door was thrown open. What was this?! A dance party! “Though 80% of India is Hindu,” our guide explained, “they are taking the opportunity to celebrate Christmas by dancing!” My brother didn’t waste a moment in joining in.

David wasted no time in joining in the dancing.

David wasted no time in joining in the dancing.

“Eeeii!” screamed the children, rushing over to David’s 6’7″ frame as he whirled and twirled. Grins spread like glowing flames and the sun blazed through the thick white clouds and onto the Christmas decorations. Bollywood music blared… and we danced!

Here is their schedule of activities. What do you notice?

Here is their schedule of activities. What do you notice?

We took a short break from whirling to tour the school itself. Peruse these photos and tell me: What similarities and differences do you notice from your hometown school? Looking above, the element that most stands out to me is the frequency and participatory nature of “Cleaning of Center.” In America, we rarely ask students to clean beyond tidying what they mess up, themselves, but in both Salaam Baalak Trust and during my time teaching in Ghana, I saw a lovely emphasis on students helping with school chores.

A classroom in Salaam Baalak Trust.

A classroom in Salaam Baalak Trust.

In the next room was the main classroom in Salaam Baalak Trust. In fact, our wonderful guide had sat there, himself, as a child. He is one of the many success stories of the shelter, as its education and job training programs aim to integrate youth well into society.

Our guide was excellent, and he had been a resident of the shelter, himself.

Our guide was excellent. He had been a resident of the shelter, himself.

Ok I must insert another photo here of my brother dancing, because it’s too funny. That little kid’s face is just adorable! Oh, and did I mention that this article ends with the best video ever? But you should read the rest of the article first before watching to be a good bunny.

The little boy's face while dancing is precious!

The little boy’s face while dancing is precious!

Next, we examined the meal plan for the students in the home. It made us smile how different the foods are from ours in Boston… except for the apple and banana! Can you imagine if my school switched menus with Salaam Baalak Trust for a day? Hehe. “Ms. Marshall, what the heck does Chhole mean?? Where’s the pizza?”

The food menu. Is it like yours?

The food menu. Is it like yours?

Gaze once again to the roof dancing. Notice the laundry drying on the fence, adding to the decor. And what about the exuberant boys? Isn’t it neat (evidenced, too, in the second photo where one kid is trying to strangle another) how universal male horseplay is?

My husband Colin with happy kids.

My husband Colin with happy kids.

Now (before the amazing video), let’s get practical. In fact, YOU could volunteer at Salaam Baalak Trust, and their website with more info is here if you are interested. This is what I found so heartening about the shelter: If you look below, you’ll see how creative, practical, and 21st century the volunteer topics are. In particular, “Multimedia” and “Marketing” stand out to me. In an era when American schools are slashing funding for the arts and barely doing technology, how phenomenal that a shelter for street children in India has this curriculum!

Look how creative and 21st century their offerings are!

Look how creative and 21st century their offerings are!

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for: The 1-minute video of my brother dancing with the children at the shelter!!!! Warning: the Bollywood music is partly drowned out by me laughing and shrieking in delight. Enjoy, and do leave comments!

 

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Deb

Wednesday 13th of February 2013

Wow! Your brother really towers over those kids. I love how the one guy copied move he made. Beautiful photos, India is certainly colourful. I do love how often we broke out in dance while traveling in India. The kids just love to dance with you don't they?

Lillie

Wednesday 13th of February 2013

Yes and yes!

Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home

Monday 4th of February 2013

That's why I love working with kids :) I'm in Cambodgia and these kids are amazingly sweet! I would love to volunteer in India as well

Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com

Monday 4th of February 2013

Tthey look like they're having a lot of fun! I work with non-profit orgs for children here in the Philippines as well, and the kids here also love dancing and showing off their moves. What a nice post!

Micki

Thursday 31st of January 2013

I love this! One of the things I love most about traveling is how people and places constantly surprise you.

Aoife

Wednesday 30th of January 2013

HAHAH! HILARIOUS

Farrah

Saturday 2nd of February 2013

Aofie, I agree very much. The article and the video was interesting!

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