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Vagrants & street children: they need a hand...
Express News Service

Kolkata, Aug 5: The privileged and the employed have, more often than not, regarded vagrants with suspicion and contempt apart from the usual dismissive sneer. Little are they aware of the creative fire that lies in them. The �Bhabaghure O Pathashishu Mela � 2006� aims at exploring that creative streak in vagrants and street children.

The exhibition-cum-sale was inaugurated on August 2 and will continue till August 5. Several homes for vagrants and street children are taking part in the event organised at Gaganendra Pradarshanshala.

The articles displayed include hand-embroidered sarees, table cloths, handkerchiefs, door mats, sitting mats and small showpieces. �The cost of the articles on show in the exhibition is much less than what is charged at other places,� said Uday Chakraborty from the controller of vagrancy, department in West Bengal.

For instance, a delicately-embroidered cotton saree is priced at Rs 350. A hand-made cotton shirt costs Rs 60 and a small toy dog can be bought for Rs 15.

A spokesperson for the Dhakuria Vagrancy Home said that three sewing-teachers have been employed by them to teach vagrants the art of stitching. �Primarily, they make mats from pieces of cloth. Gradually, they learn to stitch beautiful articles. After they are taught any assistance is hardly needed. They are patient and diligent and slowly recover from their illnesses as they work,� said Rita Basak, a sewing teacher at Dhakuria Vagrancy Home.

The articles are selling quite well. Hence the Controller of Vagrancy department is trying to set up a permanent sales counter for theses articles made by the vagrants in the Public Works Department Bhavan. There are also various things made of wood and clay like utensils and showpieces. The exhibition was inaugurated on August 2 by Biswanath Chowdhury, the state minister for health and social welfare. Also present on the occasion were theatrician Rudraprasad Sengupta and Jasodhara Bagchi, the chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women.

�This kind of exhibition-cum-sale would help the vagrants realise their potential and help in their mainstreaming,� said Chowdhury.

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