It was only January 2010 when Brinda Chudasama Miller asked me to work with the Kala Ghoda Festival team and curate the film section for the 2010 edition of the festival. A part of the process was to produce some short films with people other than film makers. One of the most fulfilling experiences as a creative producer for me was to make three short films directed by Artiste Bina Aziz, Fashion Designer Salim Asgarally and Chef Max which were then screened at the festival as well as many other occasions later.

Chef Max took us on a journey with him to discover how he shops for seafood in Mumbai city. When he took the camera team to Khar Danda Fishermen's Village where he purchases his lobsters from, he introduced us to Bhaichand, who is one of the most senior and respected citizens of the village. Bhaichand told us about the village and took us to the jetty from where the boats leave to bring back the catch everyday.
We were stunned to silence with the beauty at the sea front and completely taken aback with the state it was in. It was filty beyond imagination with waste collected more than 10 feet deep, drowning the beach which Bhaichand explained, they once played football on. With years of negligence, one of the oldest and purest places Mumbai can enjoy, has also been allowed to waste away.

Narrow lanes lead to the sea front and the filthy beach and it was preposterous that none of us who pass that way on an average 10 times a month, didn't even know of its existence. The Khar Danda Fishermen's Village Association, formed by roughly 4000 families who are the present generation of the original inhabitants of Mumbai and headed by Ashish Shellar, along with Shiv Sena elected Corporator Vilas Chavdi had been fighting a losing battle with authorities to bring to their notice, a paradise gone waste, for years now.

THE VILLAGE PROJECT INDIA was born right there and then. All those involved with the making of the three short films came together to form the NGO which in partnership with the Fishermen's Village Association pledged to clean the sea front and assist the 45000 plus population of the village, to maintain and keep it clean. As we collectively explored further, the need to assist the inhabitants of the village to build adequate toilets, provide ambulances for emergency and basic health services as well as help create awareness and enterprise to improve the quality of lives of the people of the village came up. A crisis management team trained by experts is also being prepared by the youth in the urban village with the help of the NGO. A campaign to inform the people of their legal rights, specially the women and children, is also underway.

THE VILLAGE PROJECT INDIA has its office strategically placed opposite the local Municipal School and what better way is there, but to launch all initiatives by involving the children of the village, who are the future of the country, on the 63rd Independence Day of India, first.
Taking forward the motto 'ART CREATES AND VIOLENCE DESTROYS', the members of the Governing Council of the NGO along with the Fishermen's Village Association, Bhaichand, Ashish Shellar and Vilas Chavdi have organized a painting competition amongst 50 children from the school, of which 20 will be selected for a 2 day workshop with India's top artistes to be held around Diwali this year.
The top three winners will also be given kits and tools to take their art further and their paintings will be selected as the designs on the T Shirts which the 230 organizers of the Ganpathi Mandal of the Village will wear during the Ganpathi festival in the 2nd week of September.

Chef Max Orlati, Fashion Designer Salim Asgarally, Choreographer Nisha Harale Bedi, Artiste and Curator Bina Aziz, Graphics Artiste Madhuri Iyer, Waste Management Expert Stewart Klevan, Executive Producer Akash Thakker, Youth Activist Nitin Pore, PR expert Dale Bhagwagar and I, aim to engage with the people of the Khar Danda Fishermen's Village through various activities by way of which we can communicate and disseminate information about a clean and healthy environment.
Hands on we are, and toil we will, along with the Association, the villagers and their leaders, to give to Mumbai one more corner to be proud of.

A special thanks to Camlin for sponsoring the colors, crayons, paints and brushes for the children to use and Parle Agro for providing drinking water, soft drinks and snacks.

The Village Project India would like to thank our friends Nadia Chauhan Kurup, Raj Kurup and Surekha Kotwani for supporting the initiative and our mentors Subhash Kamath and Mahesh Murthy for giving the project vision.