Colours of Change: Delhi’s Sanjay Camp Gets A Diwali Makeover

Instead of crackers, New Delhi’s Sanjay Camp exploded in colour in preparation of Diwali this year. 

2 min read

Video Journalist: Abhishek Ranjan

Assistant Video Journalist: Areeb Khan

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan

Salman, a 13-year-old resident of Sanjay Camp, Chanakyapuri, never liked bringing his school friends home. Embarrassed about living in a tiny brick home, with discoloured walls and peeling paint in a lane lined with trash, he’d make excuses to delay their visits to the urban slum he calls home.

While most residents can afford nothing better than a fresh coat of white paint as part of their annual Diwali preparation, this year the residents of Sanjay Camp received a special surprise to make their celebration brighter and better.

With over 2,000 volunteers descending on the slum over the course of two weekends in October to paint over the ugly bits, Sanjay Camp came to life in a burst of chaotic colour.

  • 2,500 households
  • 10,000 residents
  • 1,500 painted walls
  • 400 murals

Earlier a Hub for Drugs, Kids Are Skipping the High to Sit in School

Youngsters in Sanjay Camp narrate tales of minors peddling ganja, spending their days intoxicated, making school a secondary priority.

Earlier, there was a bad atmosphere. Drug abuse was rampant and using ganja was common. Kids would drop out of school and spend their time being intoxicated. Ever since the Each One, Teach One programme was started, there has been a lot of change, kids are actually attending school now and staying on.
Salman Khan, a resident 

As part of their ongoing outreach efforts in Sanjay Camp to make it a child-friendly community, the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation organised Rang Badlav Ke to change the facade and feel of the community and its houses. Along with Button Mushrooms, a Delhi-based community of student volunteers who mix their passion for community service with their love for art, they painted for hours in the hot sun to make the festival a little more special for Sanjay Camp.

Some spots would get painted, some would not, some would be getting dirty. It wouldn’t look nice but now it’s looking good. Changing colours! It’s looking great!
Krishna, a resident 

Childhood Dreams, Pop Culture Icons, and a Dash of Inspiration

While some preferred to get their homes painted in bright colours, others had some more specific ideas.

Given that Diwali is in the offing, diyas and deities were a popular choice. Colourful animals and famous actors and art with a message also dotted the walls of the slum.

Volunteers created their masterpieces, taking cues from the residents. Some wanted ‘Ninja Hathodi’ while some others preferred a more conventional rendition of a Kathakali dancer. Inspired by older didis and bhaiyas, some kids even picked up the paintbrush to try their hand at being creative.

For Salman, and the other kids of Sanjay Camp, the fresh facade means he can finally bring his friends home, without worrying, as children often do, about being teased for where he and his family lives.

Earlier, I would be embarrassed to bring my friends from outside, home because of how dirty the place was. I was conscious and never allowed them to come home. Now, my friends came to stay at my house and we even had a small party! 
Salman, a resident 

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Topics:  New Delhi   Kailash Satyarthi   Ganja 

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