Tuesday, December 7, 2021
HyderabadFirefly Community raising awareness on sensitive social issues

Firefly Community raising awareness on sensitive social issues

Published: 7th Jan 2021 12:13 am | Updated: 6th Jan 2021 10:26 pm

Hyderabad: A group of four young girls, three of them students, create a platform where people can come and speak and also sensitise themselves in addition to educating themselves on sensitive social issues pertaining to gender and inclusivity. Sounds interesting, right?

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That is exactly what the Hyderabad-based Firefly Community is. Started in 2018 by Alifiya Khan, Ayesha Syeda, Aaliya Syeda and Neeti Sudarsi, the community aims at raising awareness through art and has worked on LGBTQ+ issues, mental health, sexual violence, menstrual health and disabilities.

About the beginning, Alifiya, a law graduate, says: “The four of us wanted to create a platform and a safe space of sorts, also offering sensitising sessions on issues that are less spoken about. We chose to name it Firefly Community because a single firefly might not be visible but a group of them are definitely visible and in a similar way, we wanted people from marginalised and excluded sections of the society to collectively stand up and come forth speaking about their issues.”

Over the last two years, the community has conducted several events in the city by themselves and in collaboration with other NGOs. Their standard format has a primary speaker, a subject expert and an open mic, with an art display where arts of various forms, fitting the theme of the event, are displayed or performed. Over the time, they have expanded their avenues, from just being focused on gender and LGBTQ+ to focussing on issues pertaining to law, minorities and disabilities. Releasing videos on lesser spoken issues with artists, conducting workshops for students in conjunction with other NGOs on mental health, bullying and more, the community has also been making constant attempts to sensitise and educate in every manner possible.

One of the key avenues that the community has worked on, according to Alifiya, is related to the hearing impaired community, specifically focussing on increasing awareness and knowledge of the Indian Sign Language (ISL) among schoolchildren in the city. “We conduct workshops in schools on the Indian Sign Language as it is easier to teach kids and apart from that, we have also initiated a Change.org petition on making ISL an official language as a way of being more inclusive towards the hearing impaired,” explains Alifiya adding that these were stopped on account of schools being closed during the pandemic.

While their activities have been affected by the lockdown and the shutting down of all events, Alifiya says going virtual has enabled them to do things they couldn’t do earlier. “The lockdown affected our activities as we couldn’t conduct art displays virtually and our virtual events didn’t have the level of interactiveness that our offline events usually have,” Alfiya says. But the group was able to have speakers from other countries as the events were virtual.

“In fact, we had speakers from countries like the United States, speaking on gender-based violence, emphasising on the fact that irrespective of where in the world a person is, certain issues are universal and have to be tackled,” she shares, adding that they plan on restarting their offline events in the near future.

Firefly Community

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