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Archive for the ‘experience’ Category

Fun Day @ WonderLa

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It was just a normal Sunday when we were taking weekend computer classes for the kids at Anatha Shishu Sevashram. And  the kids told that they have a short vacation after their exams. One of us just asked them if they would like to go out somewhere for one day. And they all were too excited and happy to just hear that.  Seeing their happiness on just the thought of going out, we talked to Saraswathi madam(caretaker of the orphanage). She was also very happy and suggested us to take them to WonderLa as they had never been there because the orphanage could not afford it. The kids were very happy when we mentioned them about WonderLa. Without thinking anything whether how we will get the funds, we promised them that we would take them  to WonderLa.  We had just four days to arrange for the funds and transportation. We were very much worried whether we would be able to fulfill the promise we had made to the kids. But then we were determined that in any case, we will try our best.

First we had thought that we would not take the smaller kids but then we didn’t feel like to devoid them of fun. So, in total it was 52 kids.  And its truly said “Where  there is a will, there is a way” . First of all, we got a 60% discount from WonderLa. But still it was a large amount. We mailed to our friends, office colleagues and in 3 days we could collect sufficient amount. Thanks to all of you who helped us in this.

Finally the D-day came. On 25th Dec at 8 am all kids were ready after their breakfast waiting for the bus with smiling and laughing faces. 13 of us(volunteers) were there to take care of the kids. Singing and dancing we reached our destination. It was Christmas day and there was special event happening outside – Santa Claus meeting the kids,  singing, dancing and clapping on the drum beats.

At 11am we entered inside the WonderLa. The kids were happy meeting the Santa, handshaking with them. As it was a large group of kids we had to divide them into groups with one volunteer with them. We realized that there was no use of dividing the elder kids in groups as they were already running here and there. So we took the younger kids in smaller groups. But there is a great bonding among the kids themselves that they took care of each other. It was little difficult to manage the younger kids but we enjoyed with them – instructing them, scolding them and also making them stop crying after the rides. Few of the kids cried on the rides but still didn’t want to miss the fun and took the other rides though they were scared. And few were not at all scared.

At the end of the day, all the kids were very much happy and were quite reluctant to go back.  But the joy and happiness on their faces really made our day.  When we went back for the classes this Sunday, they told that the trip was super and “chennagidde“(Kannada word for super) and that they enjoyed a lot. Thanks to all of you who helped us in making this possible.

Enjoy the pics :

http://picasaweb.google.com/vaibhav.kumar/WonderLaTrip_WS#

http://picasaweb.google.com/trivenicat/Xmas#

http://picasaweb.google.com/priyanka2112/Wonderla03#

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Written by Priyanka Varma

December 28, 2009 at 6:29 pm

A Rendezvous with Reality

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Salim, a 7 year old boy, came to Bangalore from Kolkata by train all alone. Speaking in Bengali, with cuts on both of his hands,  injuries on his face, roaming around the railway station, was picked up by the Child helpline and brought to the Govt. homes. Talking to him we get to know that his parents had put him on a job as a servant. The master used to physically abuse him regularly. Somehow he got the chance to run away and landed up in Bangalore. And moreover he is not ready to go back to his parents as he thinks they might send him back to work.  He was fortunate enough that he was not caught into the wrong hands and was safely brought to the “Child Welfare Committee”.

Roopa, a 12 year old girl, with a deep cut on her face and an expression of shock and fear on her face. She is an eye witness of her parents committing suicide and a victim of sexual abuse by an uncle of hers after the death of her parents.  Somehow she was able to escape and brought to the Govt. Homes by a cop. She is still in the state of shock reluctant to speak to anyone.

A very small, lean 4-day old newborn girl kid, sleeping with a cute little smile on her face in the cradle. Unaware about her parents,  she was found in a dustbin near to a hospital by the localities. Sleeping beside her is a 1-year old girl, with a cut on her neck which seemed as if someone had tried to slit her throat with a knife, was found on the railway tracks.

Gausheela, a 4-year old very sweet girl, with a green strip of cloth wrapped around the upper part of her left hand.  While we tried to remove the piece of cloth, she doesn’t let us do that and replies very sweetly in hindi that it should not be removed as it is a protection from the evil. She was found alone on one of the trains from Chennai and was repeating continuously a name “Meebo”.

Preeti, a 13-year old girl, has very deep cuts all over her hands. It was very much unbelievable to hear that the cut was made by her mother. Daughter of a well-educated parents and father working as a software engineer, the girl was in such a pitiful state. Her mother cut Preeti’s hands just because she had not finished with some kitchen chores. The caretaker at the Govt. homes are not allowing her to get back to her home as they are not convinced whether the parents will take care of the child.

Neelima, a 14-year old girl, continuously raped by her own father somehow ran away from her home. But unluckily she fell into the wrong place. Again raped by an old man on the streets of Bangalore with no one to help her. She was found by the cop and the moment she was going to give the details of the accused, she went into a state of disassociation where she has started hallucinating things and people. You can see the pain in her eyes and on her face and can’t stop tears rolling down from your eyes.

Pooja, a 15-year old girl forced to sleep with her stepfather by her own mother is standing very boldly against both stepfather and mother just to protect her other eight sisters despite all the pains she has to go through. She didn’t have anyone else to go to for help, so to protect herself she ran away from her home with one of her younger sister.  Luckily she landed up in a safe place and also got the support and help to stand against the accused. There was a spark of happiness in her eyes to see that her sisters will be safe.

There were 120 boys like Salim in the Boys Home aged from 5years to 18years.  They all had a different story – victims of child labour, child abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and child trafficking. And there were around 200 girls like Roopa, Preeti,  Gausheela, Pooja, Neelima who were either victims of rape, sexual abuse, child trafficking, stranded by parents or physical abuse.  The Govt. Homes is a shelter to lots of kids who are victim to problems like child trafficking, child abuse, sexual abuse etc. A Child Welfare Committee has been set up by the Govt. which takes care of these kids and decides upon their future.

I got an opportunity to visit this place last Saturday. It was really a tough 4 hours for us to be there with them and knowing their heart-wrenching stories and to control our emotions in front of them. I really can’t express in words their experiences and what we were going through while we were there.   It was really depressing to know about the experiences these kids had to go through in such a small age but it was also very encouraging to know that there are few people in society who are helping them so that they forget their pasts and lead a good future.  Met people like Miss Vasanti who is a Superintendent and has fully dedicated her life  for these kids. You can see the love and affection she showers on them as if they are her own kids. Really hats off to them.

This blog is just an attempt to sensitize the others in the society with what all are happening in our society.  Everyday we read about these types of stories in newspapers but we have become so much used to it that we don’t think about these or we are so much into our own life that all these things seems to be unbelievable. Before this visit even I was one of those people. But after meeting these kids who really had gone through such pains,  I have become more aware of the ground realities and I think we need to be sensitive towards these issues and do something for this. A small step of yours can change the path of life of a child.

To start with, if you come across any child on the streets or in the trains or anywhere who you think is unprotected or you are suspicious of anything just call the Child Helpline at 1098 in Bangalore or report to any of the police station as it has become mandatory that a Child Welfare Officer is present in all the police stations of Bangalore. Doing this you may save a child from any unfortunate things happening to him/her. You can save a child from getting into the clutches of child trafficker, child abuser.  There must be other Helplines like this in other cities too.

Each child has the Right to lead a safe and protected life. These are the kids who will form the next generation of the society and if they are unprotected, we will have an unprotected society. Let more people know about the Child Helpline and help them in their good cause.

Written by Priyanka Varma

August 10, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Love into Action

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Staying around 2500kms away from my parents for the last 6 years, have been used to doing everything on my own without being dependent on my parents. But still I take their opinion in all my decisions, share my happiness and my sorrows with them. I have a conscious feeling always in my mind that there is someone for me , someone who will be always supporting me. Sometimes I feel they could be here with me in my happiness, my sorrows.

But what about those small kids whose parents have died or whose parents have left them alone in this world to lead their life on their own. I cherish my childhood when I think about these kids. I had a happy, free childhood with my parents taking care of me, my education, my health, my needs etc. No worries, No tensions.

Recently I got a chance to go to an orphanage “Anatha Shishu Sevashram” in wilson Garden, Bangalore through Pankhudi. The orphanage is run by an elderly lady Saraswati madam who herself is visually challenged.( She
is the first student of SRMAB where Pankhudi has started their initiative of teaching computer and english course to the kids.) This orphanage houses around 60 kids aged between 5 years to 25 years. The owner of the orphanage takes care of their schooling, food and other needs with the donations she receives from some of the people. We met these kids and they looked so happy playing with each other, dancing. They all had a sweet smile on their face hiding all the hardships they have to face.

The kids here are very much creative. Enter their room and you will see some beautiful paintings on the walls. Paintings of a tiger with all intricate details , Hanuman flying towards the Sun(the expression of the sun in the painting is amazing) – These are few of the paintings there are on their walls.  Some of them are good in dancing. We also got a chance to see their acting skills. Some of them are brilliant actors full of expressions and good dialog-delivery skills.

We hope to give them a better future and so we at Pankhudi Bangalore has decided to organize computer courses and personality development courses. Looking at their creativeness, we have planned to expose them to few of the software tools which may help them in putting down their creative ideas into a presentable way and showcase it to the outside world. Anyone of you out there can give in your ideas how we can help them or are free to help out can contact bangalore@pankhudifoundation.org .

We can’t be their parents but atleast we can try to give the love and support as we have got from our parents. There is no time to just watch and feel sorry but its time to put our “Love for them into Action” .

Written by Priyanka Varma

July 9, 2009 at 6:00 am

TypeRacing at SRMAB

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It was a regular Saturday morning Computer Class at Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind(SRMAB) with Vaibhav (Bangalore Chapter Head, Pankhudi), Deeptangan and me betting for the winners of the Typing Competition to be held in the evening.  We, including the students were quite excited about the event. (For more detail on the excitement in the volunteers read here)

Clock struck 4 and 18 participants of the event entered the class with full josh. But there was no electricity but the kids in full hope waited for the power to come back. As soon as the electricity came, kids started their PCs tapping the keyboards loudly in excitement.

Srikanth Dictating the Story

The kids were divided into two groups. After everything was set, Ram dictated the story to one group and Srikanth to the other group.  It was fun seeing the kids asking Srikanth to repeat the sentences again and again and Srikanth handling them very patiently except for once or twice. 🙂

Harsha, Muni, Chumbita and Shirisha – All were very busy typing on the computer and listening simultaneously to the JAWS(software) and Srikanth. While  one of the kids RaviKiran was busy cursing the dictator aka Srikanth asking him to be slow Kids Busy Typing and Pooja sitting still and started crying because she couldn’t catch up with the typing.  Others were also quite busy in the typing. Ram was busy in the other room dictating the story to the other group of students.

Finally at 5, the competition was over. Evaluation was done and as per the betting done by Vaibhav Sir, Harsha with Sheila came first.  We still suspect Vaibhav for doing some match-fixing (read typing-fixing).  Jokes apart, but the winners were really the deserved ones for the perfection in their typing. Cheers also to the Pankhudi Volunteers for teaching them and bringing them to this level!!!!

In all, it was a busy and a fun-filled Saturday with both the kids and the volunteers enjoying it fully. Also, to add to the fun was the birthday celebration of Joseph Sir. We will be having more events for the kids in future as its both fun and learning for them. So, Pankhudi volunteers be ready to contribute funds for more of these events and if anyone of the readers are also interested in contributing or being a Pankhudi Volunteer can contact vaibhav.kumar@gmail.com( Chapter Head, Pankhudi Bangalore)

Keep watching the blog for more of those events.

Image Courtesy: http://picasaweb.google.com/vaibhav.kumar/TypingCompetitionInSRMAB#

Refer my last post to know more about SRMAB.

Written by Priyanka Varma

July 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Colour their Dreams

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Everyone of us wait for weekends after a tiring or not-so-tiring week. Even I am one of those. I have always looked forward to the weekends. But there has been a small change. The change is the reason. Previously I used to wait for weekends to have fun with friends, sleep for the whole day or travel around. But now I look forward to it to meet a few sweet, little kids.

This change happened after my first visit to SRMAB. I joined an NGO called Pankhudi Foundation as a volunteer. One of the initiatives of the Bangalore chapter of the foundation is of teaching computer and English in a school for visually challenged students. I was really nervous before my first visit as I had never had a chance to interact with such differently abled people. My brain was juggling with the thoughts of how to teach them computer when they can’t see the keyboard and the monitor.

Entered the class of around 10 students. Joseph Sir who himself is also visually challenged introduced me to the kids. All of them seemed to be very enthusiastic about learning computer. I was surprised with the way they located the computers, started the system and putting on  headphones and all without any help. I was in a state of shock seeing them behave like one of us. Suddenly the room was filled with a noise. Just then I realized that it was a text reading software. All the kids were busy typing on notepads. Some of them were quite well-versed with typing, formatting. I was surprised with the way they used all the shortcuts for all the actions. Even being a computer engineer I am not aware of all those shortcuts. Infact more than teaching I think I have to learn a lot of things from them, not only the shortcuts but also the confidence and grace with which they do all the things.

SRMAB kid using computer

I came out of the shock state after the end of the one and half hour class. It was really surprising for me to see them use the computer so comfortably. But this surprise was only for the first day. Now I was convinced that they can do all the normal things like us. They are no different than me or you. We just need to treat them as a normal human being and help them in building their confidence and make them on par to compete with the others in the society. They do not have the power to see but they have dreams, dreams without colours. So, if anyone of you want to put colours to their dreams can contribute by joining Pankhudi Foundation as a Volunteer or contact me for any other details.

Now I wait for every Saturday. I love going to take computer classes for them, hearing the noise of the Jaws software and their calls of “Ma’m Is it correct??” .

Image Courtesy: http://picasaweb.google.co.in/yatin.sethi/VisitToSRMABBlindSchool#

Written by Priyanka Varma

June 10, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Funny and Dreadful Experience

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I close my eyes and find myself struggling in around 6ft deep water and I open my eyes scared. No, it was not a dream. It actually happened to me last week when we had gone for our team outing. I was having a nice time going down the water slide and suddenly when we plunged into the pool, the ring toppled upside down and in no time water was over my head. I struggled to push myself up; as I was going down I could see the flat surface of the pool. I could feel the water gushing through my nose and mouth and I was flapping my hands and legs and screaming silently in terror. Finally one of the teammate noticed me and pulled me up in time. I had an almost drowning experience. I was all pale and shaking even after coming out. Now I think(not sure 🙂 ) I will be scared to go to any water body. That experience was only for a few seconds but it was a hard time and seemed like minutes and hours. The feeling of not being able to breathe and my struggle with water comes back to me sometimes and I feel scared and sometimes I laugh it off thinking how i almost drowned in water of depth almost same as my height.

Written by Priyanka Varma

April 1, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Posted in experience, General, personal

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