Sunday, 30 June 2013

Why is it so important to express oneself?

Although there are no words to explain how it feels to witness a child expressing creatively their frustration, aspirations, traumatic past, hopes and imagination, I will try to explain to you the importance of this expression.

All the kids at Ramana's are classified as children at-risk. This is because of previous traumatic experience, abuse, neglect, human trafficking or have become orphans. Now you may say that living in a loving caring community such as this children's home, strengthens up and helps recover from ones past calamities. Providing the kids with food, hug, warm cloths and shelter is enough for survival for the time being. Education adds up towards social skills, interaction & cognitive development providing the foundation for a brighter future, and therapy through creative expression will make the treat for enhancing both physical and psychological skills; Being encouraged to use their imagination, the brain muscle for better problem solving and ways of communication is being nurtured. Through physical & psychological activities like play, movement and story enactment one re-discovers their Self, re-establishes their body-image and becomes more aware of their needs, boundaries and aspirations.

You may say, a fact is a fact indeed and "What has passed belongs to the Past". It is true, but whoever have experienced trauma, they can tell you that they've carried memories of this trauma for much longer than the time it was initially inflicted; either cognitively - in their mind and hearts, demonstrated in thoughts, emotions, attention deficiency or psychopathology - either physically - in the body reactions, stress response, body posture and self-bodycare - past trauma manifests in several different ways. Now one can either deal with it or ignore it. But this is not an issue one can just ignore or 'drop' forever. The more one tries to suppress it the more it builds up, developing to many more calamities, leading to nervous breakdowns and/or delinquent behaviour. There is only one way of treating a wound effectively; it is by acknowledging it and treating it properly. Scars may always remain, but at least there is no constant bleeding and foreign objects have been cleared off so they won't be causing any further harm.

Thursday, 16 May 2013


The time has come to wrap up the dramatherapy bag. Apart from fairytales, coloured cloths, paints and puppets the bag mostly is full of memories from our sessions together at Ramana's Garden.
It was an experience of giving and receiving from being with these guys. Having held space for kids to share their feelings, emotions, fears, hopes, aspirations, dreams and ideas is priceless. It is beyond value to hold space for a kid to play and draw, create and enact stories - sometimes unravelling darkness and horror within these -, and then to witness the 'hero' within fighting their way towards survival and thriving... And the kids enjoyed this time truly, although it was challenging sometimes. They enjoyed the structure and the boundaries, they appreciated this was their time only and no other kid could come in an out of the room. They appreciated the confidentiality and they were coming and therapy did take place.

They are looking forward to dramatherapy resuming in Autumn 2013 or later! Will you help this happen? Please email me at konstantjaAThotmailDOTcom or directly make your donation towards this project via GoFundMe =>

 If you are a registered creative arts therapist, you may wish to join me next time there! :) It would be great if we find a small space nearby to rent and fix one of the rooms especially for arts therapies and make this a regular hosting place for creative arts volunteers!

Friday, 10 May 2013

A few challenges to consider on your way there...

I learned a lot of things in Ramana's Garden. If you talk with any of the volunteers they will tell you that being there can often be a humbling. We all go there with our own agendas: this might include to help, to support or even to find a kind of a 'family', to love and be loved, to feel useful and organically experience life within a community. And the kids know this. They are orphans, used to have people come and go off their lives, one day telling them to brush their teeth and the next one saying goodbye forever. But life is. And these wild flower are growing healthily and they get nurtured by peoples' cultures, their songs, their accents/ languages and their ways of behaving. They open and close like clapping clams. Embracing you, pleasing you, testing you, pushing your boundaries and loving you truly... Oh these kids, they know how to give so much. So rich inside they are. Encouraging them to receive has been quite a challenging thing.

There were many ways to help out over there, help at the garden, cafe, with tuition or other things, but from early on I decided that it was better for all that I won't mix roles up, especially the role of the 'teacher' with that of a 'therapist', so to the managers disappointment I needed to say no to that.
Things generally were not so easy in the beginning with getting things ιn a flow and I had to grow flexible to adjust with the organisation whilst keeping the standards high for a therapeutic intervention. You see, the right recipe for a therapeutic intervention asks for some very basic technical ingredients: an appropriate space, a scheduled time, props and obviously at least two people to attend it, a therapist and a client. All else can build from that. Well, when I arrived at the orphanage, there were no appropriate rooms for therapy, no specific schedule to arrange an appropriate time and no one available to help me sort things out.

To that, please add this to your picture: The kids along with the staff and the volunteers are all part of a community, which requires that every individual in it is working in several posts within its premises. This is crucial to its self-sustainability. So even if you are 10 years old and you have dramatherapy scheduled at 1pm with a lady from Europe,  if all of a sudden another kid falls ill and it is required to take their place helping at the café, it is the latter that you will do indeed. You would leave the white dressed lady to dance her pirouettes and bite her plats (I didn't really have any) and help your community, wouldn't you? This is of course what anyone would do and what did happen - quite often... Please bear in mind, that we are talking about an organisation in India, which is not government funded and it really depends on donations and the hard work from its staff, volunteers and kids.

This is no child labour. Even you as a kid looked after your younger sibling, washed the dishes, cooked a meal or polished your dad's shoes every once in a while, no? So imagine this is a biiig family with lots of that kind of demands. And ok, it is true that the kids learn a million things and grow awesome skills through this eco-community structure. But can you imagine trying to schedule a therapy session in this context? Kind of a nightmare. In the end we found a system of scheduling the sessions that was failing us - let's say roughly - only about 35% of the time... :S But in the long term it did work well enough. The kids knew that they had their own scheduled time and that I was waiting to meet them at a particular appropriate room, at a particular time. And this is how the therapeutic context were met... :)

Friday, 26 April 2013

Γράμμα από το Ramana's Garden, Tapovan, Rishikesh

Αγαπητοί φίλοι, οικογένεια και συνάδελφοι,

Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ για τη συμβολή σας σε αυτό το πρότζεκτ!

Είμαι στην ευχάριστη θέση να σας ανακοινώσω, ότι το έργο έχει βρει σπίτι εδώ και ένα μήνα περίπου σε ένα 'σπίτι για παιδιά' στο Tapovan, Rishikesh. Λέγεται Ramana's Garden Children's Home και παρέχει σπίτι, τροφή και εκπαίδευση σε περισσότερα από 60 παιδιά, που βρέθηκαν/ βρίσκονταν σε κίνδυνο. Προσφέρει ακόμα, δωρεάν εκπαίδευση σε περισσότερους από 130 μαθητές από τοπικές, μη-προνομιούχες οικογένειες. Διαβάστε περισσότερα για αυτό το καταπληκτικό έργο στη σελίδα τους. Kέρδισε την καρδιά μου με την πρώτη ματιά, ίσως θα συμβεί το ίδιο και σε εσάς. Yπάρχουν τόσοι πολλοί τρόποι που μπορείτε να φανείτε χρήσιμοι σ' αυτούς!

Το πρότζεκτ είναι ανοιχτό σε όλα τα παιδιά, εθελοντές και μέλη του προσωπικού του Ramana's Garden, που θέλουν να συμμετάσχουν. Υπάρχουν τρεις ομάδες και τέσσερεις ένα-προς-ένα συνεδρίες, από αγόρια και κορίτσια μεταξύ 7 και 19 ετών, που τρέχουν σε εβδομαδιαία βάση. Διανύουμε τώρα την πέμπτη εβδομάδα συνεδριών, και θα συνεχίσουμε μέχρι τα μέσα Μαΐου, όπου και το σχολείο κλείνει. Τα παιδιά τότε για να αποφύγουν την ανυπόφορη ζεστή μετακομίζουν περαιτέρω σε υψόμετρο στα Ιμαλάια στο καλοκαιρινό σπίτι του Ramana's Garden.

H δραματοθεραπεία εδώ επικεντρώνεται στην παροχή ενός μη επικριτικού, αποδεκτικού, ασφαλούς και εμπιστευτικού χώρου όπου οι συμμετέχοντες μπορούν να εκφράσουν μέσω δημιουργικων τρόπων, τα συναισθήματα και τις σκέψεις τους, να χαλαρώσουν από ανησυχίες και άγχος, καλλιεργώντας αυτο - εκτίμηση και επικτίνοντας τις δυνατοτήτες τους για προσωπική ανάπτυξη. Μέχρι τώρα, τα παιδιά φαίνεται να απολαμβάνουν το χρόνο και το χώρο αυτό, όπου συνεχίζουν να έρχονται και να εκφράζονται δημιουργικά, τόσο με λεκτικούς όσο και με μη λεκτικους τρόπους. Αυτό που είναι πολύ πολύτιμο είναι πως εχει δημιουργηθεί μια συνέχεια στις συνεδρίες μας και rapport, με αποτέλεσμα να βαθαίνει η θεραπευτική σχέση και διαδικασία.

Βιώνω μια πολύ ιδιαίτερη εμπειρία ζώντας στην Ινδία αυτούς τους μήνες. Tο ταξίδι αυτό μου έστειλε υπέροχους ανθρώπους στον δρόμο μου (από την προετοιμασία και μέχρι τώρα). Είσαστε όλοι μέρος αυτού του ταξιδιού. Κάποιους συνάντησα σε αυτό το συγκεκριμένο 'σπίτι' και κάποιοι άλλοι με έφεραν σε αυτό (ακόμα κι αν δεν το ξέρουν). Αυτό που έμαθα μέχρι τώρα είναι πως όταν απαντάς στο 'κάλεσμα', η ζωή κυλάει με ευκολία. Θα ήθελα να εκφράσω την ευγνωμοσύνη μου στο Ramana's Garden, γιατί είναι το μέρος στο οποίο αυτό το πρότζεκτ υλοποιείται.

Θα ήθελα επίσης να ευχαριστήσω την όμορφη Aditi Prakash από «Pure Ghee Collections», η οποία χορήγησε σε αυτό το έργο διάφορα κομμάτια υφάσματος σε υπέροχα χρώματα, προσφέροντας με αυτόν τον τρόπο ένα υποστηρικτικό στήριγμα για απεριόριστες ώρες παιχνιδιού! Στο «Pure Ghee Collections» της Aditi, το οποίο βρίσκεται στο Ayanagar Village Δελχί, μπορείτε να βρείτε όμορφες, μοναδικές τσάντες και αξεσουάρ που είναι μοντέρνα αλλά διατηρούν ταυτόχρονα ινδικό χαρακτήρα. Ρίξτε μια ματιά εδώ!

Τέλος, ένα τεράστιο ευχαριστώ στους αγαπημένους μου φίλους, Vidya και Ruda, και τα υπέροχα μέλη της οικογένειάς τους: Mona, Prableen, Diya και Vidyun για τη θερμή φιλοξενία τους και για την παροχή βοήθειας με τόσους πολλούς τρόπους!

Σας ευχαριστώ όλους και πάλι τόσο πολύ και θα είμαι μαζί σας με περισσότερες ενημερώσεις!

Σας παρακαλώ να συνεχίσετε να υποστηρίζετε το έργο αυτό, προωθώντας το και σε άλλους που μπορεί να ενδιαφέρονται να το υποστηρίξουν.

Συζητάμε την επιστροφή του πρότζεκτ το φθινόπωρο στο Ramana's Garden. Συνάδελφοι δραματοθεραπευτές είναι επίσης ευπρόσδεκτοι να έρθουν μαζί μου ώστε να βοηθήσουν στην εγκαθίδρυση της δραματοθεραπείας ως τακτική πρακτική στο Ramana's!

Κωνστάντζα Μανιατοπούλου
(Satdeep Kaur)

PS: Η σύνδεση με το διαδίκτυο είναι εξαιρετικά υποτονική εδώ, γι 'αυτό παρακαλώ αναμένετε για περισσότερες ενημερώσεις...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Letter from Ramana's Garden in Tapovan, Rishikesh

Dear friends, family and colleagues,

Thank you so much for your input in this project!

I am glad to announce to you, that the project have found home about a month ago at a children's home in Tapovan, Rishikesh. It is called Ramana's Garden Children's Home and provides home, food and education to over 60 - at risk - children, as well as free education to over 130 students from local underprivileged families. Please check this amazing project out. It won my heart from the first glimpse, it might do the same with yours and there are so many ways you can be of use for them!

The practice is open to all the children, volunteers and staff members of Ramana's Garden. There are three groups and four one-to-one sessions running on a weekly basis. Attendants are both girls and boys between 7 and 19 years old. We are now on our fifth week of the project, and the service will carry on until mid May, when the school closes. The kids then will escape the heat by moving further up to the Himalayas in another Ramana's Garden home.

Dramatherapy here focuses in providing a non-judgmental, accepting, safe and confidential space for individuals to express through a creative way, feelings & thoughts, release from stress, nurturing self - esteem and expanding potential for growth. The kids seem to enjoy having this time and space, where they can express creatively in both verbal and non-verbal ways, and they keep coming back for it. What is very precious to have been established is consistency of the sessions and rapport.

It has been a very special experience being in India so far, with all the wonderful people I have met. They are all part of this journey. Many of them I met at this particular home or have in some way parts of linking me with it (even if they do not consciously know it). When you answer your 'calling', life just flows. I would like to express my gratitude to Ramana's project for being such an inspiring place to channel this dream into realisation.

I would also to thank the beautiful Aditi Prakash from 'Pure Ghee Collections', who has donated to this project several pieces of cloth in wonderful colours, offering in this way a supportive prop for unlimited hours of play and movement!

In Aditi's 'Pure Ghee Collections', which is located in Delhi's Ayanagar Village, you can find beautiful and unique bags and accessorises that are modern and yet pure Indian. Check them out here!:

Finally, a massive THANK YOU to my dear friends, Vidya and Ruda, and their wonderful family members: Mona, Prableen, Diya and Vidyun for their warm hospitality, and for helping out in so many ways!

Thank you again so much and I will be back to you with more updates!

Please continue to support this project by clicking on the Donate link on the right side, or promote it to others that might be willing to support it. We are discussing on resuming it in Autumn! Other dramatherapists are also welcome to join me into helping in establishing this as a regular practice at Ramana's!

Konstantza Maniatopoulou
(Satdeep Kaur)

P.S: Internet connection is exceptionally sluggish here, so please bare with me when it comes to updates...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What is Sesame Dramatherapy then?

Namaste dear ones!

You probably already know what dramatherapy is about. 
However you might not know what 'Sesame' dramatherapy is...

This video is meant to answer your questions about it!

'Open Sesame' to your hearts and minds!
'Open Sesame' to your inner treasures, your right for happiness and for reaching your full potential!

Love to all,

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Little by little...a dream takes a physical form

Dear friends,

A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU who have supported this project so far! The collection of material has grown because of your support!!! Along with things I got from London, now on the magic parachute of dramatherapy, lay local fairytales I got from Yodakin. (Such a nice book shop in Hauz Khas, New Delhi!)

Apart from these fairytales, the props include: Finger paints, colour pencils and markers, watercolours, Saga cards and themed postcards, finger-puppets, papers to draw and paint on, and a couple of percussions-rattles!

What needs to be added to complete this collection is some meters of white fabric to paint on, a few more percussions or simple music instruments, and a few mono-coloured pieces of cloth for supporting role-play & enactment of stories!

I am anticipating meeting all the children and starting the sessions very soon now!

Love and Light to you All!