Archive for the 'Updates' Category

A note from Kalam

Dear Partners and Friends of Kalam:

Its 2009 and we have some news from Kalam…

For five years we’ve been working in Kolkata with you to build the culture of critical thinking and creative writing among young people in slums, red-light areas, shelter homes, railways platforms, and other unique neighborhoods. We’ve had an exhilarating time working with teenagers who’ve brought poetry from street corners to the page and into the public imagination.

After many adventures — poetry workshops, public readings, literary magazines, footpath poetry campaigns, neighborhood journalism workshops — we at Kalam are bringing our efforts to an end, in the form that they exist now. Due to Kalam’s financial and structural realities, we are suspending Kalam’s active programs and direct services for youth. We also closed our office this month. Although, we will no longer have a physical address and presence, we are committed to finding new ways to continue Kalam’s work and spread the culture of writing among youth.

For one, we are excited about publishing the curricula Kalam developed over the past few years on poetry writing and neighborhood journalism and sharing it with educators, NGOs, teachers, youth activists in India. Stay tuned for details about the launch and distribution of Kalam’s curricula. Secondly, we want to be in conversation with you to think about new and different ways to continue the important work in creative literacy for young people. I invite you to get in touch with ideas, concerns, questions, and imaginings. I’m available at

I am grateful and proud of all the people who have been, and are, a part of Kalam’s changing avatars. I am excited about collaborating with you again on new projects of creative literacy, youth work, and beyond.

Happy New Year.

In Solidarity,

Sahar Romani
Founding Director of Kalam: Margins Write


Khola Baksho: EBook Version for Sale

2008 Khola Baksho is now available online! Our partner, supporter, and funder Rising Voices helped Kalam create an EBook version of our literary magazine featuring writing and art my young people in Kolkata.

Khola Baksho 2008 Cover

Copies are available for $5.00  here.

Thank you Rising Voices!

Rising Voices Reports Back with Rahool

David Sasaki of Rising Voices accompanied Rahool at the Interdependece Day Summit in Brussels last week. Here is is report from the Rising Voices Blog:

interdependence-day banner.jpg

Greetings from the sixth annual Interdependence Day in Brussels, Belgium. I am here with Rahool Goswami of the Neighbourhood Diaries project in Kolkata, India and Patricia Rakotomalala of the Foko project in Madagascar, both of whom are representing Rising Voices at the first ever Youth Summit of Interdependence Day. rahool and pati

Pati and Rahool at Interdependence Day Intellectuals, political leaders and artists from around the world gather each year for the four-day forum that corresponds with the 9/11 anniversary to help find cooperative alternatives to terrorism, and to help create democratic solutions to global challenges related to economics, the environment, technology and health. The theme of this year’s forum, “The City as Commons in a Divided World”, examines the challenges facing multicultural cities like Brussels as microcosms of the greater challenges to peaceful co-exitence in our era of accelerating globalization. Here is a ten minute promotional video about the event.

At last year’s Interdependence Day in Mexico City the organizers of the event realized the importance of involving young people in the discussions about achieving global interconnectedness and ‘interdependence’, which led to this year’s inaugural Global Interdependence Youth Summit. Around twenty young participants from around the world representing Rising Voices, Remedee, OneVoice, and the The Flemish Youth Council all came together to discuss issues related to intercultural dialogue. Picture 1.png

Participants of the Global Interdependence Youth Summit

For Rahool Goswami from the Neighbourhood Diaries project, this was his first time out of West Bengal. Here are his impressions on the differences between his hometown of Kolkata and Brussels.

The Youth Summit gave the participants an opportunity to interact with well known intellectuals and celebrities like Cornel West who candidly answered whatever questions were put to him. Here is Professor West speaking about the internet, hip-hop, and hierarchies of power:

Dalia Labadi, one of the Palestinian representatives of OneVoice also produced a video interview with Cornel West about the Palestinian struggle. The youths also had a chance to talk amongst themselves and lead their own discussions, including a dynamic group exploration of identity. The final day of the conference was specifically dedicated to the Youth Summit. Unfortunately most of the adults from the previous three days did not attend the youth forum, but all of the Youth Summit participants were pleased to find out that they will be invited to next year’s Interdependence Day which will take place in Istanbul in September 2009. They made several suggestions about how the Youth Summit can be expanded and improved. The final panel of the conference examined “The Need for Intercultural and Transnational Collaboration.” It gathered Benjamin Barber, James Early, Adam Michnik, and Ferenc Miszlivetz along with four of the youth participants: Shlomo Haar from Israel, Christoforos Pavlakis from Greece, Patricia Rakotomalala from Madagascar, and Hainalka Szarvas from Hungary.

Unfortunately most of the conversation bounced back and forth between the adults on either side of the table, which makes Pati’s point about adults needing to take more seriously the thoughts and suggestions of youth all the more poignant: There were originally supposed to be five young representatives from Rising Voices at Interdependence Day, but Diego Ospina, Deneiber Mesa, and Taslima Akter all had difficulties securing their visas. Hopefully they will be able to join Rahool, Pati and the other youths at next year’s Global Interdependence Youth Summit in Istanbul. While Diego, Deneiber, and Taslima were not able to join us, we were fortunate to receive a surprise visit by Sipagasy, a longtime supporter and volunteer of the Foko project who is based in Paris. She wrote a post in French on the Foko blog about her participation in the event, and particularly the guided tour of Molenbeek by activist priest Daniel Alliet. Rising Voices has shown that, slowly but surely, the internet can bring together individuals from across cultures, countries, and languages. But nothing beats being able to sit down face to face and enjoy relaxing conversation.

We are grateful to the organizers of Interdependence Day for enabling us to do just that in Brussels and we look forward to more great conversation with more diverse voices in Istanbul next year.

Brussels in Rahool’s Eyes

On the second day of the Interdependence Youth Summit, Rahool went on a city walk with local tour guides. Take a look at photographs Rahool captured here.

Also, here is a photograph taken by Rising Voices Coordinator David Sasaki of Rahool and citizen journalist Pati from FOKO Madagascar.

From Bowbazaar to Brussels

Rahool Goswami, an insightful and prolific writer, in Kalam’s Neighborhood Diaries program is on his way to Brussels this week for the Global Interdependence Youth Summit from September 9-13th.  Rising Voices, selected and sponsored Rahool to attend the youth summit in Belgium as a citizen journalist to represent Neighborhood Diaries, Kalam and his fellow peers. At the summit Rahool will  meet with other young people across the world to engage in dialogue on local and global issues effecting and shaping young peoples lives.

Rahool, college student, musician, poet, and aspiring journalist, grew up in a congested urban settlement in Bowbazaar. He’s known as Rahool-da (da for older brother) among young people in his neighborhood.  This trip is Rahool’s first adventure outside of India. As a passionate writer, keen observer, and critical thinker, we’re certain Rahul will bring richness to the Youth Summit.

Stay tuned for a report back from Rahool.

‘Writing Out’ Series with Vikramshila comes to an End

Last month marked the end of Wrting Out Poetry workshops with youth at Vikramshila’s Dhakuria-Lakes youth center at the Nabadisha Center. Our prime Writing Facilitator, Nargis Khatun (with mentorship by Urbi and documentation assistance of Rohit) worked with fourteen young participants from Vikramshila’ since January to foster youth as creative writers in their personal and public spheres.

The workshop  guided the participants in the inquiry of identity in relations to the self, the community, and the world while building skills in the craft of poetry writing.

The Nabadisha Center where Writing Out workshops were held.

The Nabadisha Center Education Center. Every Monday workshops were held from 6 - 8pm.

The Poets

Nabadisha Center

Hanging Out after Workshops.

Update about Thoughtshop

After a long interval, on 2nd may, Kalam facilitators and Rohit, our intern, met up with the young people’s group from Thoughtshop. We went through the scrapbooks they had designed, containing their introspective writings, maps and other artwork surounding their personal neighbourhoods. See the picture above for one such personal neighbourhood map which we used in the session to point out the difference between a geographical map as contrasted to one that reflects personal landmarks, important associations and favorite places in the neighbourhood.
The youth had designed their scrapbooks with a lot of care. All the writing and art created during the course of these 4 sessions had been appended, along with interesting snaps of neighbourhoods taken from an insider’s perspective. Where cameras were not available, they had made people and places come alive through drawings. When asked how they felt putting together these scrapbooks, they said that the same neighbourhoods that they had grown up in, that had felt small, unremarkable and not ever evoking any pride, had begun to expand for them in this process. There had also been a sense of “mine”, “my para”, “my people”. We felt happy. This was what we had set out to do, to increase critical and creative thinking about their paras, and to increase the sense of belonging and pride with it.