I have been struck by the power of the dolls depicting the daily life stories of the ordinary people in the villages and towns of India. It has drawn those who viewed the exhibition to relate to the situations depicted and to retell their own stories as it happened twice here in Dharmodaya Seva Ashram, Bellary, Karnataka (on July 2009 during a retreat and on January 2010 during the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the diocese). Shobith a hindu boy of 14 from Siruguppa who had run away twice from home, and Shyam another young man from hindu background from Manvi who had a conflict with his family to talk about their lives and take help in counseling to find peace and reconciliation. The most touching part of our experience was that both these youth volunteered to narrate stories of the dolls to visitors! There were women who went and called their neighbours to come and look at the exhibits. Mr. Jayanth, a Jain has requested that Sr. Francoise should hold the exhibition next time in his rich locality to make them sensitive to the social reality.
I was also privileged to have Sr. Francoise exhibit her dolls as part of a liturgy at the Asian Franciscan Formators’ training program at Bangalore in Jan 2009 opening the minds and hearts of all to a new way of worshipping recalling the spirit in which Francis made the first crib. The Justice & Peace seminar, which I conducted at Franciscan Institute of Spirituality, Bangalore, is remembered for the integrative liturgy where Sr. Francoise led us to pray holding in our hearts the ignored and broken people whose resilience and ability to find beauty and goodness ! The last platform where we collaborated was at the International workshop of Interplay at Carmalaram, Bangalore where Sr. Francoise inspired through her meditation with dolls two other artists to share their glimpses of truth and beauty and moved the hearts of the 45 participants who considered it as a sublime confluence of prayers surging out of life.
I highly recommend that this channel of expression which comes out of real life experience of Sr. Francoise be encouraged to touch and create ripples of such authentic inspiration in the hearts and minds of all so that we move towards exploring a language which will cut across all religions and allow people to relate to life, each other and the Divine bringing the much needed harmony in our country.
~ Bobby Vadakkal ofm
Secretary of Formation & Studies South Asia Oceania Conference of OFM Provinces. Address: Dharmodaya Seva Ashram, Vidyanagar P.O., Opp. Cantonment, Bellary 583 104, Karnataka, S. India.