Keeping the Kids happy
Sarah Z H
“It is not the longitude nor the latitude, but the attitude''-the main message of Fahmida Monju Majid's posters help to reflect that a change in ideas are only possible by altering the way we perceive things. As a performing artist all her life Monju Majid has been working with children for more than 25 years now as a story-telling creative therapist. As against the didactic system of teaching she wants to introduce education through entertainment for both children with ordinary and special needs. She holds in her heart that children are not miniature adults who can be taught to understand the world in the same way.
"While children try to understand the meaning, the fun, the connecting ideas of the story, they subconsciously learn to relate one point with another in the light of their own original conceptions and interpretations creating a world of their own and to be able to enter it and be a part of it is a reward in itself''says Monju. She works mainly with handicapped children or children with special needs as she prefers to say it. She sadly explains that mental handicap is not a temporary illness but a permanent disability. These uniquely talented children need more and more educational and social help, creative story-telling sessions which can be a great way to get close to them. Her principle character, Khukhumoni, an eight year old girl from a village in Bangladesh acts out traditional stories for children on stage often improvised by Monju using paper masks, singing, dancing, hand puppets, alpana (painting on the floor) and even home cooked Bengali food which she cooks for them. Monju Majid is the only Bangladeshi storyteller professionally registered in UK. Her stories are recitations coupled with facial expressions, varied rhythm and intonation to make the children capture imageries and ideas that help them discover themselves.
Fahmida Monju Majid has written many rhymes, songs, scripts, essays and stories both in English and Bangla for the children. Her books ''Chharano Chhara''(1982) and ''Pokar Poropokar'' (2001) was published in Bangladesh. Monju has been performing as a storyteller and has had shows in England, Norway, France, Germany, Korea, America and many other countries around the world. In 1970 she received a first class for her masters in General Psycology. She worked as an assistant psychologist in London and completed her post graduate research in Neuropsycology at the Institute of Neurology .She also underwent several other training sessions and courses like movement therapy, art therapy, music therapy, counselling and emotive psycotherapy. Monju was directly involved in a comparative study of Bangladeshi children with Down's syndrome while writing her thesis paper for her PhD from Nottingham University. Later she established the 'Bangladesh Association for Children and Adolescents with Down's Syndrome'. The techniques of her story-telling therapy for children involve music (instrumental and vocal), visual art (painting, vegetable print, alpana), miming, tactile communication for visually impaired children, special movement exercise for children with neurological inabilities, drama (with costumes and props), riddles, crafts, clowning and sign language.
Growing up in a past where she was nursed by the love of her grandfather poet Golam Mustafa she learnt to look at things differently. She was driven by her artistic interest and her immense fondness for children to become a clinical psychologist for them. She believes it all starts from the kind of upbringing a child has that finally decides their personalities as adults.
Monju is a wonderful friend to these children. The children love to be around her and she is fascinated by them. She has captivated many children audiences with popular Bengali folklore customs and culture in different parts of the world. Her songs are lively and catchy and talk of things children recognise and laugh about. They provide just the sort of everyday fun children usually look for in places like Music Funshops.
Monju wishes to inspire story-telling as a new profession in our country to help the children who bears the innocence of recurring hope.