Diwali is celebrated every year by us. But this time the Airoli slum-communities & volunteers got the opportunity to celebrate Diwali with a difference. Our Airoli team came together & had the real blast with the kids of the 4 slums & their parents. Children thronged to the celebration like flies & hence changed this event into a real festival.
Arun & Ameeta took the responsibility for getting Chappals & sweet packets. There's no doubt they would have had a tough time with the local retailers for this. But as the rates of crackers have gone through the roof so I & Kailash decided to go to Kopri, Thane, which is its big wholesale market. Even plates/glasses/snacks/chocolates were purchased from the wholesalers in Mulund. Heartiest Thanks to all these retailers/ wholesalers for supporting this cause by selling the stuff at discounted rates.
Then came the D-Day, 29th October, unraveling lots of surprises... Around 60 children made up to this event! We got a mind-boggling response from Sector-17 parents & kids. Almost everyone came except 3 kids. So me & Arun rushed there immediately for them. Also Special Thanks to Ramesh (Amita's husband) & Arun who hurried for sector-19 kids & families especially sarika & her parents who have emerged as the biggest challenge before us. It would have been gr88 if Airoli-Gaav parents too could make up for this event but anyways we will try to rope them in on Children's Day celebrations.
Kailash, this time too got his friends, Surendra & Prakash, involved in this event who extended their unparalleled support for everything & not just LCD projector & speakers.
We still remember the frenzied screaming of the kids when the cartoon movie was beamed on the white wall ;-) Such projection left them open-mouthed & elated them so much that they started jumping & hugging the wall during the display ;-) Cartoon plays & Marathi children songs were shown but their energies knew no bounds when they saw their photos flashing on the wall-screen. Their every snap was followed with loud cheers & whoops! The moments which none of us will ever forget! Then came the dance party… Believe me some of the kids like rahul, surekha literally stole the show when they started rocking their bodies. We have decided that we are going to start other classes like singing/dancing/music for them so that such beautiful talent does not get nipped in the bud. We have to start exploring their other potentials.
Arun & I rushed for snacks & ice-creams. I still remember those moments... Samosas were not ready & we started getting calls from Kailash & Ameeta that the kids are getting restless. Thanks to Ameeta whose charisma & prowess helped cushioning the excitation levels of the kids. Also our ardent student volunteers Suraj, Shila, Soni, Vineeta& Jyoti Mane played an instrumental role in each & every activity of this event. They also drew beautiful rangoli in the premises. We also had some lovely cute junior volunteers with us ;-)Manisha, Ishika, Rishabh (Kailash's son & daughters), Akshata (Ameeta's daughter) & her 4 boys from Nagaland whom she looks after.
Beena came all the way from Mulund & also got in some of our close school friends—Jay & Chandan. Jay & Chandan were always there with me right from the day when this project was in its very nascent stage…just a sunday teaching activity. This was the first time they had come to meet the kids but still they have been one of my biggest motivators for this project.
Sincere thanks to Kochha Madam who graced this pro-poor occasion. At the age of 78 yrs, she is a 'hyper-active' lady who has successfully shouldered many big responsibilities in the educational sector & still managing some of them. She is also one of the trustees of Senior Citizen Welfare Association, Airoli who has almost 300 members. She has promised to do her best for this project as we also need senior people with us who can share their time & wisdom with the younger generation for this cause.
After snacks came the real event. The thing, all the kids were waiting for. Crackers!!!
Oh my god!! It was nearly impossible to overrule the whims of these kids when they saw the lot of crackers being brought for them. But it was wonderfully managed by Kailash, Arun, Beena, Ramesh & our student volunteers. The small girl—Doorpata—jumping around exuberantly waving 2 fooljadis in her hands…. The smiles & whoops of the kids on seeing the sizzling butterfly-like crackers…the thrill & enthusiasm levels of all the kids.. These are some of the moments that can only be experienced.
Sweets & Chappals were not distributed on the same day due to various reasons…
Firstly, It was a total chaos wherein lots & lots of children had joined the celebration...all their brothers & sisters….& 4-5even from nearby residential areas… so distributing the things to only few of the selected ones especially when all the kids are at such high spirits would turn out to be disappointing for many.
Secondly school of our kids is going to re-open only on 10th November. So lets distribute Chappals to them personally in their tuition classes later so that they don't lose them during vacations.(Chappals will be distributed on Children's Day celebration)
Thirdly all of us felt it would be more impacting if the sweet boxes are personally distributed to the family instead of just the kids. So next morning 8 am, Arun, me & Kailash made a triple seat on the bike ;-) collected the sweets from the school hall & distributed them to all the slum families of all the sectors. What a morning! It was a mind-boggling experience. Take one more good news. We are going to admit 4-5 more kids in the school after Diwali.
Incredibly grateful to all the caring hearts who graced this event with their incomprehensible enthusiasms that made this event a whopping success!
Also attached are the snaps of the Teacher Training Program organized by us for the student volunteers on 15th October. This too was a real eye-opener for all of us as Ameeta nicely explained the pchyocology & mentality of the kids, growth process of their minds & some fun- filled ways to teach them. This training program was conducted because many of the student volunteers were facing some problems in teaching these kids but today we understand its natural & we have started working on the various methods/tools/ techniques that needs to be adopted for teaching these kids. Luckily, our student volunteers have their vacations going on now. So their time will be nicely utilized for making such items/materials & even the posters for the college to create more awareness about this activity.