Youthreach: ‘if I were rain’ publishing for a good cause

Exhibited by
Sattva.
Added
February 27, 2010
Medium of Communication
Publications
Target Audience
Awareness
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, poverty / social justice
Country of Origin
India.
Date of first appearance
December, 2003

SOFII’s view

The book ‘If I were rain’ is something of a publishing success in that it has sold well and been reprinted several times. Through sales it has also raised money for a range of causes working with disadvantaged children, has attracted multiple sponsorships to cover its costs of origination and spread awareness of a variety of social issues. It has given young people encouragement and a chance to express their hopes and aspirations through telling positive, but revealing, stories about their lives and the particular problems they face. It also promotes volunteering. ‘If I were rain’ is quite a book. Indeed, it could be a publishing sensation.

Creator / originator

Youthreach team.

Summary / objectives

Founded in 1997, Youthreach is an NGO that seeks to spread awareness of social issues and to create programmes that will enhance the work of its 104 partner NGOs. Youthreach’s partners are spread across nine states in India, working with disadvantaged children, youth, women and on environmental issues. Youthreach reaches out to volunteers, NGOs, grassroots organisations, companies and businesses to foster partnerships among these groups.

After working with children’s organisations and the children themselves for some time, Youthreach saw that many myths had grown up about the children and their lives. If I were rain was created to dispel these myths, whilst also financially helping the organisations working with the children.

If I were rain is a photographic book that explores the lives of children from varied disadvantaged backgrounds in urban areas. The book creates and provides a platform for the children to speak for themselves to a wide national and international audience.

Background

The objectives of the book were twofold. Firstly, to sensitise a wide audience (adults as well as children) in India and abroad to the lives of the children – to dignify their lives and to inspire effective volunteering for children’s organisations. Secondly, to generate funds for specific pre-identified children’s initiatives through the sale of the book and events surrounding the launch and exhibition.

The book took three years to produce and involved a core editorial team of 14 people, over 20 photographers, 12 translators and over 75 children from 10 children’s organisations. The material was gathered from all over the country. Forty-five editorial workshops gathered the children’s testimonials that form the essence of the book. In addition, seven art workshops were conducted around the themes – if I were rain, God, love, fear, self, dreams and discrimination.

The book was finally released as a hardback with 300 pages, over 150 images and eight in-depth photo/text stories, shot by six commissioned photographers. The book includes the work of top Indian and international photographers (including photo editor Prabuddha Dasgupta), the creative work (drawing, painting, poetry) of children from Delhi and other urban centres, excerpts of the children’s stories in their own words, their perspective, their perceptions. A group of children with whom Youthreach has worked closely formed the in-depth stories in the book. It also has some facts and statistics.

Special characteristics

There have been many initiatives that highlight the plight of children in need. While some are effective in creating awareness, they often do so by inducing pity for the children. If I were rain is a tribute to the wealth of intelligence, creativity and spontaneity that is an integral part of the children’s lives. Without diminishing the hardship they endure, the book shows how these children are whole and beautiful despite their circumstances.

By blending the children’s voices as testimonials, stories, poems with photography, art and the social perspective – the book beautifully captures their imagination and contrasts it with the conditions and the lives that they lead.

Influence / impact

As part of the first printing, 4000 copies of the book were released. The book was priced at 750 rupees (about 15 dollars) and was available in all the major bookshops. It was an immediate success and was soon followed by second and third reprints of 4000 copies each. If I were rain received tremendous acclaim and touched the hearts of people nationally and internationally.

To date, approximately 10,000 copies of the book have been sold through leading bookstores, retail outlets, businesses and individuals. The aim was to reach at least 10,000 people. Today, more than 20,000 people have seen the book and between two to three million rupees have been raised, which have been channelled into organisations working with children.

This book transforms lives. It poignantly captures how children retain their intelligence and innocence despite the most trying circumstances.
One of the colourful drawings illustrating a child’s response to the question, ‘What would you do if you were rain?’.

Related case studies or articles