From natural disasters to devastating epidemics, M.Bharati has seen, and survived, it all at the young age of 23 years. A resident of the Chepala Chennabai Baraf in Penthakata, Puri in Odisha, M. Bharati has been more than instrumental in handling her family’s financial situation and fulfilling her aspirations. Since her husband is a boat laborer and spends most of his time in the sea, the responsibility of making do with scarce financial resources falls on Bharati’s shoulders. She, along with her mother-in-law, a door-to-door fish seller, has been repaying the loans that her family has had to take to renovate her house in the aftermath of cyclone FANI that hit Odisha in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when all economic activity had come to a standstill, she had mortgaged all her jewelry to make ends meet for her family. She’s fighting tooth and nail to send her children to school, so that they get a good education, and are able to secure a better future for themselves. Despite the financial constraints, she’s able to scrimp and save to send her children to a private school, which generally costs more.
Bharati has attributed her steely will to the metaverse painting that she created. As a part of the Hope Building exercises conducted in the area, community members were asked to paint a picture of one of their aspirations and put them up in their houses. Bharati painted a picture of sending her children to school, and looking at the picture daily reminds her of planning for the same and working towards turning that dream into reality.
These hope-building exercises use art as the medium of expression since art and culture have the capacity to evoke within us the motivation and determination to act toward finding solutions under the pressures and challenges of change. Art allows us to reimagine our environment and shift our perspective to discover new possibilities. The activities have been designed such that they center the narrative of community members that have faced and overcome hardships, such that it provides a sense of hope, and faith and helps build resilience in other community members.