HOPe On

CHILDREN OF IMPACCT FOUNDATION

This taxi fabric facilitated by Studio Anugraha (comprising Manasi Mehta, Sanjana Nanodkar, Carol Nair, Tirtha Gandhi, Nupur Kulkarni, Deshna Mehta as a part of the team in different capacities) in association with Impacct Foundation, is filled with dreams and aspirations of young children fighting cancer.

Despite the difficulties, pain and suffering, they put up a brave front, not missing any opportunity to smile. Be it expressing their dreams of what they want to grow up to become or speaking about their favorites: places, food, friends or moments; their visual expressions don’t fail to amaze, surprise and inspire.

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This taxi fabric is a depiction of the collective dreams of these little fighters drawn by themselves. Parts from each of the drawings that correspond to a particular profession that they aspire to pursue are grouped together and form one surface of the interior fabric. The ceiling displays dreams of children who intend exploring outer space and question the existence of aliens.

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The passenger back seat cover is a representation of each of the professions demonstrating the gamut of dreams children have from becoming policemen to doctors to artists to growing trees which would have hanging chocolate as its fruit.

These visuals inherently reflect their inner conviction and belief that they are on the road to recovery. With all energies working collectively to support this journey, they continue to dream with hope.This is a plea to raise awareness that paediatric cancer is curable if it is detected at the right time and treated appropriately. These little fighters deserve the best chance at cure. In order to support children with cancer, organisations like the Impacct Foundation and Anjeze require the support of generous hands and hearts in cash and kind. Through this Taxi Fabric, the hope is that more and more people will reach out to these organisations and contribute towards this cause.

 On being asked how they arrived at the design of the taxi, the team from Anugraha shared, “Conversations with Shalini Jatia, Secretary of the Impacct foundation made us realise that there is a widespread notion in the smaller towns in particular that once a child contracts cancer, there is no scope for cure. Statistics reveal that only 10 out of every 50 children suffering from cancer actually reach the hospital. On understanding this perception, the larger message that we wanted to communicate was that Paediatric cancer is curable and that every child deserves the best chance at cure. That cure is possible only when people support in cash, kind and intentions. Impacct Foundation has been working towards this cause at dual levels of creating awareness and at the same time providing for all the support required in translation of this message into reality thus impacting the lives of many.”

On giving it more thought, they found two ways of doing this. One that was participatory and involved the children who suffered from the disease who also are the beneficiaries of the cause. The other was one that was determined by them as design practitioners on understanding this realm of paediatric cancer. They opted for the former and after consulting several individuals who worked with children as doctors, consultants, counsellors and therapists, arrived at a framework to conduct two workshops in the children’s ward at the Tata Memorial Hospital.These workshops involved play and expression at their core. Warming the children up with pictionary, followed by sharing prompts that would trigger expression of their dreams and aspirations, these workshops bore testimony to the imaginative and creative minds of the little cancer fighters who seemed to be living in the ‘now’ and radiating its significance all along.

The tools and surfaces for expression were pre-thought and pre-conceptualised by the studio emerging from conversations within the team at various points alongside the research and interactions with the children. This involved use of injections, gauze, cotton balls and droppers to draw, paint and express which as objects were otherwise more native to a medical practice.

Since injections (minus needles) were tools they wanted kids to use, they readied several sheets of paper with coloured wax crayon layers topped with black paint mixed with detergent. The children peeled their dreams by the method of erasure using injection tips to find layers of colour reveal themselves as the impressions, lines and forms were being made on the paper. Metaphorically, for them this was peeling the black (dispersion of the dark cancer) to reveal the colour (emergence of dreams) and thus the continued hope. The hope that they live on to be cured, with all energies working in this direction once they associate themselves with Impacct foundation and Tata Memorial Hospital with several supporting NGO’s of the likes of Anjeze who back these organisations to do what they do best: save lives and promise brighter futures.

On being asked from where the title of the taxi was inspired, they shared it was from the ‘Hop on-Hop off’ tourist buses. The words were played upon to arrive at ‘Hope On’, indicating that every child suffering from cancer once undergoing treatment lives with ‘hope’, because cancer is curable.

“Once we knew the reason we were doing this and the message we wanted to communicate; we took some time to explore different ways of conveying this. We wanted it to be participatory and emergent from the children themselves and not pre-determined or conditioned by us. At the same time, we were mindful that the cause needed to be clearly communicated. We therefore felt the need to understand the disease, its implications and its effect on the mindset of children and their families. Also, we thought it was very important to be sensitive to the children and their parents and that any interaction with them must not feel forceful in any way, but instead to use these moments as opportunities to bring a smile to their faces,” they shared.

For this, Manasi from Studio Anugraha spent a large amount of time doing primary and secondary research; having conversations and in person meetings with therapists, counsellors, doctors to gather as much information and insights as she could to be able to conceive the workshops that would yield effective outcomes. “The uncertainty of how kids might respond or not; took over quite a few times and got us thinking and changing our modus operandi. The process was time consuming however worth all of it.”

Understanding how fabric as a medium might work as they had not engaged with it in the past was new learning. Also, communication and coordination loops were many as their immediate stakeholders involved 4 organisations including themselves. Barring this, several people consulted and several others supported.These interactions although time-consuming added value to the outcome in ways that were meaningful in their opinion.

On the execution mode, the dependency on the taxi driver to show up, the printers, fitters and test phases for each demanded patience and coordination which had its own learnings to offer.

When asked if the fabric design was influenced by Mumbai or Indiain any way, they shared, “The aspirations and dreams of children are more often than not shaped by conditioning from regional and geographical influences.  During interactions with the children, for many usage of a distinctive lingo was eminent and also subsequently different from the rest. Some of the visual elements that bore a semblance with the cultural Indian landscape seen within the drawn dreams by the children include:

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-To go to the Taj,

-To become a ‘ganit’ teacher – maths teacher,

- Happiness is peacock and Durga puja

- To go back to the village to mom and my siblings

-The use of hindi, bengali in the artwork – specific to regions that the kids hail from

- The representation of characters and the usage of iconography that is Indian

- Hopes of the kids such as friendship between India and Pakistan and such like.”

On being asked about their initial thoughts when approached for the project, designer, Deshna Mehta from the Studio Anugraha Team expressed, “I was initially approached a couple of years ago to engage with Taxi Fabric. Back then, I almost dismissed this invitation as it felt like an engagement with fabric using aesthetic sensibilities and creating a pleasant experience for a passenger which for me was not reason enough to do it. Over the past two years, the strand of Taxi’s for social good has grown with beautiful intentions and their subsequent manifestations; and most of all the inclusion of children, young adults, old people (who are insiders to various institutes and the causes they stand for) making it a participatory process. The taxis done by Harshit and Jezreel in particular served as inspiration and the causes they stood for: to me were very meaningful. This prompted us to re-initiate the conversation with Taxi Fabric, this time as a studio and not me just as an individual, to enage with the initiative. As a studio, we at Anugraha have been working in a small capacity to design for the ImPACCT foundation at the Tata Memorial Hospital. The holistic care and support and the tremendous amount of selfless work it carries out for the cause of Paedeatric cancer : towards recovery and lending new lives to children and their families is heart warming. We wrote to them with a proposal of doing a Taxi Fabric that furthered their cause and they embraced the idea and decided to engage. All next steps were then planned: to conduct workshops with children at the hospital and use some of their artworks for the design of the Taxi Fabric.”

In the team’s words of what they feel about The Taxi Fabric project: It is a blank, unique canvas to put out a message that has the potential of reaching the general public through the access that the taxi as a mode of public transport offers. In their opinion, it is very interesting and also encouraging to allow young designers to engage with this surface and help reach an audience through their work which they may not necessarily have access to otherwise. The uniqueness of the medium and all that it offers through being surrounded by it and to remain in its confines for a stipulated time period (of the journey)  has the potential to grab the attention of the passenger in a manner like no other advertising, publishing medium does. The passenger finds himself in an experience that is immersive without any prior notice. This element of  encounter by surprise adds to the magic. But like with all media and all tools, it is a great canvas and it is the responsibility of every designer that engages with the initiative to put out something that’s meaningful in intent and also thought provoking as an experience. We think to use this medium in this manner is a great idea in itself.

The little cancer fighters,  Children of the Impacct foundation at the Tata Memorial Hospital who have made the art work that form the taxi fabric:

Mohammad Ayan, Aditya, Khushali, Ridam Sheet, Arman, Anjali Dhaware, Ananya, Arti ,Anisha Vishwakarma, Nida yasmin Ansari, Palak, Harsha, Arushi, Preeti Sheikh, Snehal, Kanaiya Singh, Sudipta Samui, Rushil Vitale, Ayon Saha, Indar, Faidan, Ganesh, Sakib, Ibne Ali, Aman Branwal, Divyanshu Raj, Ayan Sheikh

Learn more about Tata Impacct Foundation and Anjeze.