Mumbai: Slum kids get free vocational classes at Vasai studio
Brother George Vitus, a sculptor, is imparting essential skills training to empower underpriveliged school dropouts
Vasai-BasedKala Sadhana Arts studio has been empowering underprivileged, school dropouts by offering free tailoring classes to girls and free computer classes to boys. Held over a period of three months, the aim is to teach valuable skills to children from downtrodden homes.
The founder of the studio, Brother George Vitus, 60, is a sculptor, who has also studied at Rome University of Fine Arts. Since the last 20 years, he has helped more than 5,000 slum children. Vitus funds the initiative by making religious statues for churches and organisations. His sculpture of Mother Mary has even been installed at Uttan Bhatia Velankanni Matha Church in Bhayandar.
Vitus, originally from Ernakulam, Kerala, has been living in Mumbai for the past several decades. "I used to live in Borivli and studied interior designing at Bandra School of Arts [currently LS Raheja School of Art], before going to Italy, where I did further studies in fine arts and sculpture. I am the founder and first principal of St. Francis Institute of Art & Design, Borivli. Four years ago, I shifted to Franciscan Missionary Brothers, Fatherwadi area of Vasai."
At present, 72 slum children in the age group of 5-9 are undergoing basic computer training. The computer classes are conducted by Muskaan Shaikh, 19, who says, "We run two batches of computer classes from 5-7 PM every day. There are six batches and the strength of each batch is 12 children who come from nearby slums." For the tailoring classes, the trust has hired 24-year-old Archana Palkar, who teaches 16-19-year-olds. The centre has six sewing machines.
One of the students, Ujala, 19, told mid-day, "I left my school because my father fractured his leg in an accident. He is the only earning member and we are two sisters and one brother. I joined the centre to get tailoring skills to earn in the near future." Besides these free courses, Vitus has also been training budding artists to make statues at the studio. "I am into the profession of statue-making for decades. I want to share my skills with youngsters," he said.
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