Friday, September 18, 2009

Volunteer Speak - Rohit

16th May 2009, 10am. The sun was just beginning to cast its spell of indolence on the world,trying to push everyone in the cozy canopies. Thermometers aiming for a halfcentury, combined with a weekend, there couldn't have been a better excuse foranyone to stay inside the house and sip a cold drink. The team at At Kearney,had different plans. The whether was just too incompetent to deflate theirenthusiasm, as they visited the Unnati center of AID Gurgaon to spend some timewith the kids, and offer them a day to remember.
It was the day the kids wereeagerly waiting for. They had all gathered in the school well before 10,knowing that a little delay on their part would mean missing a lot of fun,soeager were the kids that they quickly finished there daily prayer and PTexercise which was lead by Mamta and Atikool. They were definitely right, andsome volunteers will by all odds learn a lesson or two from them, or even aplethora more!!
The interaction started witha basic introduction. The children greeted all the volunteers with a very warmgood morning, with each child trying to ensure that his/her sound is distinctlyheard by the volunteers, and little kids eagerly waiting for the elder ones tostop, so that they can make their presence felt. Clearly a feeling ofcompetition marked by the presence of respect for seniors! The volunteers hadalready divided the kids into four teams , with around 8 children ineach team. To distinguish between the members of the team, and to induce asense of belongingness in the team, each of the four teams were givenbands of different colors by each AT Karney volunteers who was owning theteam (just like IPL :), which they had to be tied around their wrists. Theywere quickly through with the task, with each child raising his/her hand assoon as he/she had finished. The battle, had begun!!
The fun started with 'tyingthe rubber band game'. A team member from each team were selected, on whosehead other team members had to tie the rubber bands. The team which had tiedmaximum rubber bands, was adjudged the winner. The children were quick torealize the advantage of the person on whose head rubber band were to be tiedto have a long hair. While the member of one team sat down to facilitate easytying of rubber band, the little ones of other team were seen pulling theirteam member to sit down. Not willing to give up at any stage, they decided tojump and just place the rubber band on the head of their partner. A few of themwere actually successful in doing that. A few other children were just toohappy to play with rubber bands among themselves, instead of loosing them to analien head! And there was another set, who after finishing the game simplyremoved and pocketed their rubber band. These were the ones who enjoyed theflavors of both the possession and the competition.
The next game was to writethe maximum possible numbers on the white board in a given amount of time. Thewhite board was divided into two parts, and one member from each team wascalled to write the numbers. Each of the team members were shouting hard tohelp their team member, not realizing that the number they are shouting can beheard by both the team members! The writers relentlessly scribbled among thechaos, inadvertently ending up drawing some random figures instead of writing anumber! Nevertheless little mistakes under pressure do come with their share oflessons. This game was followed by throwing the ball in the bucket, the similarkind of game that we used to play in annual fair of our town. The hit and themiss, the zeros and the ones were all the part of the game. No body worriedabout the score, unless they got a chance to throw a ball in the bucket. Theyreally enjoyed their version of bowling!! The team at Kearney were willing to help at every step,but the children wanted only the resources. Everyone was willing to steerhis/her own ship.Finally the kids gave a chance to the volunteeers of Karney totry there skills in bowling ...but the kids proved themselves better in it ..asnone of them was able to put the ball in the bucket ..
The next game was differentfrom the first two. Unlike other two games which were played in a team, hereeach member had to show his/her individual talent. It was the moment ofrealization for me, as I understood the obvious reality of dearth ofopportunities in a pool of natural talent. It was really amazing to see, howmeticulously the sabeena and tara hadpicked up the dance steps and the lyrics for the songs. More important thanthat was their enthusiasm to show this talent to all those who were there.Thankfully the meaning of shyness and hesitation was missing from theirvocabulary!! There were children who recited some really beautiful poems, and remindedus of our childhood days. This nostalgic intoxication was the defining momentof the day. Some evergreen poems like “Titli udi chat par chadi...and Machalijal ki raani hai ”, can never loose their sheen in our life. They just get lostin our sole, and the children at Unnati helped us find that. In our quest ofdefining their future, they gifted us the memories of our past.
Similar was the case withthe next event. Each of the children were given a sheet of paper for drawing.The flowers, the mountains, the fruits and the stick cartoons, the slanting andsliding lines that were beginning to take a form like their life, and thecolors were beginning to spread both on the papers and their lives.
The events were followed bya nutrition break and the prize distribution ceremony. The ones getting theprize were definitely happy, and there were others who silently watched theprizes being distributed with a glimpse of hope. But the man of the moment wasa kid, who was forthright in expressing his annoyance on a girl being givenprize twice, as Atikool shouted “Isko pehle de diya tha” (Sabeenahas already got the prize) !!. The kid was definitely rewarded with achocolate for his honesty. Those who didn't get the prize also had something tocheer about. Each of the kids were given a bunch of toffees, followed by thepackets of delicious sweets and sandwiches. It was a poignant moment to see thespirit of caring and sharing nature among the kids, as most of them resistedthe temptation of eating the whole packet and instead took it to their homes toshare it with their siblings. Their voice and intentions were loud and clear asone of the kids shouted “Mummy ke saath knaoonga” (I will share it with mymother). I seriously hope we do love our mothers and not just wait for mother'sday!!
The kids had their share offun and we had our share of both fun and morals. At times I am just amazed tosee these little moments offer us some valuable lessons. Like any other day atUnnati I had taken my share of knowledge. I learned that a right blend orresources and guidance can take these children to new heights. I learned thatits important to be in the right place at the right time. If we can ensure thissynchronization for these kids, they will fly on their own. They gave memoments to cherish of my own past, a food for thought to reorganize myrelationships and the motivation to come again.I offered them a bird and theyfetched for me two from the bush !!

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