Oct 24, 2005

A head-start

I don't know from where to start. Ok, flashback, turn your calendar pages to August 2005, to be precise, 14th August 2005. That was the first time when I visited Ananya, a school for under privileged kids as part of my first volunteering activity with Dream a Dream. I was feeling very scared. How am I going to interact with the kids? How am I going to be playful throughout the day with a new set of people? I was pondering over lots of questions on my way to Ananya. Finally we reached a place, almost like a resort in Kerala with lots of trees all around the place and small tents here and there. Needless to say, little kids like the fresh flowers in the morning were playing in that place. As soon as we got down the car, the kids swarmed around us, asking for names and other details. They were so open to newcomers like me. Holding my hands with their soft, little palms, they took me on a site visit around their school and showed all kinds of plants and trees, giving a translation of names in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. So knowledgeable were these kids about their garden that I felt like a toddler among these experts.

While waiting for a walk to Jerry's farm (that's where we would spend the entire day playing treasure hunt), Durga and Sowmya taught me "Mana Manakka One........." . It is a very interesting "girls" game where you clap your hands and make expressions as per the lyrics. Then it was my turn to teach them a couple of games. "Categories" and "Concentration" had stuck my mind all of a sudden. I remembered the days when Preeti, Ramya and I would play these games in our apartment terrace (Guess I was in 8th std then!!!). The kids liked these games very much and we played many rounds. The day went on with treasure hunt and other games. Overall, a nice beginning for my stint with Dream a Dream.

Flashforward. October 2005. As part of my organization's volunteering activity, we decided to spend a day at Ananya. I felt glad that a good number of volunteers turned up for the pre-activities like planning, games selection and gift wrapping. The day dawned and we boarded the bus. Will the kids remember me? Will they interact with our volunteers in the same way they interact with Dream a Dream volunteers? Will they participate actively in all the games? Again, I was pondering over questions on my way.

Having stepped down the bus, I walked towards the place where the kids were playing. Some of them instantly recognised me while a few came close, asking for my name and whether I had met them before. Durga immediately said "Aunty, let's play categories". I can't express how much I was surprised. This little kid recognised in a flash that it was me who taught them this game and on top of that, she remembered the lyrics so well. We started playing and the other kids also joined us.

A round of Mana Manakka, Mary-Mary and two of my games - a perfect start for the day. We had arranged for a first-aid camp. It was pretty interesting, though a few kids (including my hubby) slept during the session. It was good to see many of our volunteers playing the games while waiting for lunch. I got to know some interesting facts while serving lunch.

1) Kids don't like salads. I had to force them to eat atleast one piece of tomato, cucumber and onion.
2) Many kids prefer to mix salt with water and drink it. This kid named Suresh was playing with me asking for more and more salt. Whenever I cross him to serve dishes for other kids, he would shout "Aunty, salt!!!".
3) 95% of the kids like to eat curds as such without mixing it with rice. And yes, sugar is a must. Also, a spoon of sugar is very less. They were demanding more and more sugar from Skely that he got a nick name "Sugar uncle".

It was our turn to have lunch. I don't know how the food tasted much better though it was the same food and the same caterer who serves us lunch everyday at office. Probably, we were too tired and hungry playing with the kids.

The afternoon session was packed with games like passing the parcel (I organized this game :-) . Though I stumbled initially with seven-up rules, I guess kids enjoyed the game) , the ever-green musical chair , the funny lemon and spoon and the fierce baloon bursting. Prizes were distributed to the winners and to all the kids as a small token of appreciation.

After snacks and tea, it was time to leave. It is unbelievable that the entire day passed so quickly. The kids gave us hand-made greeting cards and bid good bye to us. Sowmya, my good friend asked me when I would come again. I said "Very soon". Thayamma always full of smiles said in Kannada "Aunty, when you come next time, I'll get the first prize." She came second in lemon and spoon game. But look at her spirit. "Kids are the best teachers", echoed my mind. Ajay and Jayanthi, cute little kids and darling of everyone, Sharat, the talented kid who can twist and roll his entire body using his right hand, Arun , a nice boy always full of smiles, the two young boys who had sung a Tamil song and danced in front of me - wish I could remember all their names. It was an emotional bye-bye. When the bus started to leave, they shouted "Come again, uncle. Come again, aunty".

Many volunteers are visiting them, spending a day with them, giving them gifts etc etc. It's fine but how are we going to help these kids in the future? Dr.Shashi Rao is doing a great job in giving affection and support to these children. We should support her in the upliftment of these kids. Let's not just show them dreams, let's help them to achieve their dreams. Definitely, this Sunday was one of the most meaningful Sundays of my life and has provided the much needed head start in achieving my goals.

Blog Archive

All contents copyrighted by Anuradha Sridharan, 2023. Don't copy without giving credits. Powered by Blogger.