Jammu, Mar.1 : An orphanage in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir (J and K) Academy of Art, Culture and Languages and the Jammu and Kashmir Police recently organised 'Shehjar Carnival 2008', a two-day theatre festival at the Abhinav Theatre here.
The State's Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khuda, was the chief guest at the festival.
The Human Efforts For Love and Peace (HELP) Foundation in Jammu has adopted children who have been affected due to militancy in Kashmir.
Over 42,000 people have been killed in the region since insurgency broke out in 1989, officials say. Human rights activists put the toll at about 60,000 dead and missing.
Officials say violence in Kashmir has declined after India and Pakistan, which claim the region in full but rule in part, launched a cautious peace process in 2004.
HELP foundation used theatre as a tool to usher in change and spread the message of peace and harmony.
Ishfaq Malik, a participant, whose father was killed by militants and has been living with the foundation for the last 9 years, expressed joy on performing in the play.
"We are very happy as orphans rarely get a chance to go out of their orphanage and display their skills. We have got this chance to come out and to talk and perform in front of people. We are very happy," he said.
The students of orphanage staged plays with huge of enthusiasm and passion and also are to compete with the entire world.
"In this era of intense competition, I want to send across the message to all Kashmiri children that we are second to none. Earlier militancy created a fear psychosis and we stayed indoors. But that's no longer the case, as we have learnt to overcome fear and are also moving forward and competing successfully," said Romana, a participant.
Surveys reveal that there is intense suffering amongst the people and the 20-year-old insurgency has created a stress-filled society.
Chairperson of HELP foundation Niqhat Shafi says that Kashmir people are constantly confronted with violence and death every single day and so it is the responsibility of society to care for those who are affected by the strife.
"I think the onus for caring for these children falls on society. I call them special children. My orphanage is known as a home for special children. And since I interact with them closely I realize that the best way to deal with their stress, their anger and trauma is to get them involved in theatre and extra-curricular activities so that their mind is diverted towards more positive aspects. If negative thinking prevails, they'll be on the wrong track," she said.
The number of widows and orphans in the state are increasing at an alarming rate.
Started in 1997, founders of HELP Foundation set out on the mission to provide a home to widows and orphans and also helping them cope with stress and bringing them out of their turmoil.