Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ And in Bangalore!

I first heard from Swati Kakodkar, a storyteller in Bangalore in India, some five years ago when she wrote to me about storytelling. While we’ve had some good face-time I have often thought how much I would like to be able to meet her in person. Maybe one day that chance will arise! Meantime, to complete (for now!) my little series on storytelling spreaders, here’s some of what Swati has achieved.

As well as being the busy mother of a son and cooking for the family, Swati is a management professional who has worked in the areas of Brand Building and Corporate Communication. She is also a certified storyteller who holds a Diploma in Storytelling from Kathalaya Academy of Storytelling in India, an institution affiliated both to the University of Sweden and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. In 2013, Swati founded Story ki Bory, into which she has poured all her varied experience. When I asked Swati the meaning of Story ki Bory, she answered that ‘bory’ means ‘sack’ in Hindi. So Story ki Bory means a sackful of stories. But the vision behind it is wider than any sackful. As Swati describes it,  the vision is ‘to make a definite difference and create a positive change through the transforming energy of stories and storytelling’.

Here are some of the different parts of Swati’s Story ki Bory project.

The Dental Hygiene & Awareness Programme:

This programme arose in response to the growing exposure to junk snacks, aerated drinks and convenience foods which were resulting in  children experiencing tooth decay and related dental problems at a very young age. Developed fairly recently in partnership with an experienced dental professional, the programme seeks to address oral health problems by making children understand the importance of teeth from a young age and inculcating good eating and oral hygiene habits. Puppet stories, songs and enriching activities help the children imbibe these lessons on the principle: stories teach without the preach.

The Grand Story Sessions:

Initiated in 2017, the Grand Story Sessions are a forum for grandchildren to bond with grandparents over stories, songs and activities to do together. The sessions have also grown to be a platform where senior citizens are able to connect with each other and forge new friendships.

The Environment Protection Program:

This programme kick-starts with World Environment Day every June. Conducted in Montessori environments and after-school hobby classes, it aims to drive awareness and enforce positive action on such issues as waste segregation, resource conservation, animal protection and recycling. Carefully selected stories, puppet shows and engaging activities make the sessions effective. This year saw the launch of a related video, Be the change!  See it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA8LkVKXNAs

Storytelling with Puppets Workshop:

The purpose of these workshops is to initiate the children into simple puppet making and then use the puppets effectively to narrate stories. The idea of using puppets is to help children to easily shed their inhibitions and present themselves with confidence. The workshop has been well received in schools and on after-school programmes for children in the 4-8 age-group.

The Silver Linings Project:

It’s a basic belief of Story ki Bory that stories have the power to inspire, heal, and connect. Resonating with this belief is The Silver Linings Project which was initiated in May 2020 in response to the global pandemic. The objective here is to foster positive thoughts, encourage exchange of real-life stories, create an optimistic environment and utilize the energy of stories as a therapy in these tough times.

My response:

By now I think you can see why I have so greatly valued my storytelling friendship with Swati Kakodkar. Her work has brought storytelling into the heart of working with so many of the world’s current problems. Not only a storytelling spreader par excellence, she is one with a huge sense of purpose.

PS: Swati’s website is at www.storykibory.co.in

PPS: If you know of  other storytelling spreaders and would like to send me details, please do let me know. There’s plenty of room for them in this blog!

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