As our supporters may know, Somerset-based charity Children’s World International (CWI) recently visited Bhopal to give performances to the many children still affected by the on-going contamination of the water supplies and ground soil. Below is the group’s round up of their experience in Bhopal.
CWI have done a few tours since it’s creation in 1999. We have worked in countries affected by war and natural disaster but this is the first time we have been to a place devastated by a corporation’s economic greed! It is hard to believe that although the original poisoning occurred nearly 30 years ago, the land around the plant is still contaminated and people are still living there and children are playing in the factory grounds!
From the 8th – 23rd January 2013 CWI in partnership with the Bhopal Medical Appeal sent a 4 person team to provide a two hour programme of performance, fun and games to children and families still affected by the tragic poisoning. Both charities felt that our programme of laughter and entertainment would be a real boost and be of real value. And we felt it was right to remember the ongoing plight of the people affected – the area is still toxic, people are still suffering!
Our first show was at the Nawab Colony which is right next door to the factory on marsh land which was part of the “solar evaporation” area that Union Carbide used to dump their contaminated water. It was slightly disconcerting to find that we were performing in the same area that appeared in the acclaimed documentary “Bhopali” that showed that all that protected the land and water from the toxic waste were what looked liked sheets of bin bags!
Everywhere we performed we were able to speak to people about their experience and indeed the ongoing effects. No place highlighted the ongoing effects more than our visit to the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre which works with children born with birth defects, disabilities, or life threatening conditions due to the ongoing pollution and contamination of their environment. The youngest child we met there was 18 months old!
During our time in Bhopal we managed to run a total of 16 shows and reached an estimated 4500 children and families! All the shows were either in schools and communities directly affected by the disaster or were recommended as worthy by the Bhopal Medical Appeal and/or the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal.
We were able to donate a parachute to the Aayaam School in Bhopal who have a large number of autistic children in their care. We were also able to donate a small generator and PA system to the Sambhavna Clinic. They have a lot of volunteers who visit and the equipment can be used by them to continue to provide entertainment for the community.
CWI would like to thank the Bhopal Medical Appeal for their partnership of our trip and for providing us with an amazing guide and “tour manager” Mr Sanjay Verma. We would also like to offer our grateful thanks for the generous support of Aggreko and the Anne Harris Children’s Fund without whose help this tour could not have happened.