Office apart, I took to volunteering in a big way. I would offer to help other teams at official events, and also for varied social causes. I even enrolled myself to teach at a Non Government Organization (NGO) for kids and young boys. These were cheerful kids, aged 6-15, who were at one point, addicted to drugs or were victims of child abuse. Pained with their suffering, I thought it a noble deed to be able to utilize my education to this great purpose. I would go there on Saturdays for two hours and teach English to them. They were all a happy and enthusiastic lot.
They would call me “teacher” , “sister”, or even “miss” at times. It was a complete pleasure to be able to teach them. I felt privileged to be amidst them. They were such wonderful people.
We celebrated all festivals and big days with them. They would draw cards for us on all occasions, be it New Year or Teacher’s day. I specially remember the Republic Day celebrations at SUPPORT.
Joy is not in things, it is in us! The Republic Day Celebrations at this noble initiative resounded this belief. The children, eyes brimming with hope and happiness, were all set for the day. We could feel their zeal the moment we stepped into the hall. The ceremony commenced with the unfurling of our Tricolour...complete with a salute to the flag, followed by the National Anthem. Inspirational group songs and speeches by the children were praised by all present. The way the ceremony was conducted was commendable.
Eager hands deftly filled in colours in the Tricolour during “Flag Making”. We had organized games for them. “Passing the Parcel”, “Antakshari”, “Chinese Whispers”, “Fire on the Mountain”, and “Talent Show”...all saw enthusiastic faces that lit up with beautiful smiles. Prizes were awarded to the winners of each activity.
Their mischievous moods took the better of them and they danced...to the sound of music...and the rhythm of their hearts! It was sheer joy for us to be a part of the celebrations. That day I realised, it is not we, who lend them a helping hand, but they, who make a difference to our otherwise dreary lives.
Along with English, we also taught these sweet children many more things like, Vedic Mathematics which involved active participation from the kids as they were eager to know the shortcuts to solve tough problems. There were also computer assignments like making tables and drawings which enhanced enthusiasm in the kids.
I still remember the “mask-painting” competition and the “dramatics” event I had organized for them.
They surrounded me, eager little eyes and faces. Ready to paint and show their creativity. They painted lovely and brilliant colored masks. They jumped to show me what and how much had they done. They would scream enthusiastically and peep into their neighbour’s drawing book.
The dramatics event was welcomed with great fan fare. They rehearsed their parts rather well. Not one of them forgot their dialogues. They rendered the script and play more humourous than any playwright could have done, by their sheer simplicity and sense of humour.
During the prize distribution ceremony, when each one stood up on the stage to receive their prize, they waved to me, and smiled till the time they came off the stage. Each one would turn back and look at me and smile while they stepped onto the stage. Oh! It meant everything to me. I felt blessed.
It was their faces and voices that stoked me to get out of the privileged comforts of my home and get on the train to "Santacruz" every Saturday.
I remember the sad look on their faces the day I told them I was leaving. I still have those beautiful cards and painted masks with me. The quiz competition that they asked me to conduct on my last day there was a memorable one. Some asked me to give them pencils, while some others, the notebooks I had as a keepsake! They were such emotional and sweet people. GOD, please give them all that they want off life. Bless them and protect them from this big, bad world. They too are Your children.