On the Sunday morning of 17 September, children at UPAY’s Sikanderpur centre in Gurgaon gathered enthusiastically to participate in the monthly engaging event, Baal Sabha. As we were in our childhood, a day of reprieve from regular studies and homework brightened the smiles on the innocent faces, with sheer anticipation and excitement of the things to come. Dressed in colourful attires and the hair neatly oiled and combed in place, the children reflected their spirit to learn and overcome challenges despite the not so comfortable circumstances they must be facing in their day to day lives.
Commencing the much awaited session in the humble temple courtyard, each one of us was sitting cross-legged in a circle facing one another over a red coloured plastic mat, which, by far, was the only prop used in the event. Initiating with an introduction of self, we managed to uncover the dreams and aspirations of all kids present there, prodding some of them, especially the younger ones, to think on these lines, probably for the first time ever in their lives. While being recruited in the police force was the most popular vocation, some children were inspired by the sacrifices of our jawans and vowed to fight for the country. Few of them were naïve enough, unable to clearly state the careers they were interested in, often speaking the names of the associated objects. This was hilarious but also an eye-opener that children observe things that may not be readily available in their immediate surroundings and have the courage to dream. While Aditya wanted to become a laptop, Mona dreamed of turning into a scooty overnight. Following this, our volunteer Mithila engaged the children with a powerful story on the importance of hygiene and consulting a doctor during the spread of diseases such as dengue fever. She made the narration all the more interesting by involving the kids in role play and often asking questions.
To lighten things up, volunteer Harsha suggested the game of object identification from their drawings on the whiteboard. Divided into two teams, we were taken in for a surprise when the participants demonstrated their creativity and imagination in conjuring up images and guessing them correctly. The artistic flavor of the event was not yet over. Almost every child, boosted and motivated by the display of genius, overcame their hesitation to give performances in the form of recitations, singing and dancing. Excelling in both solo as well as group acts, the renditions were a treat for the sore eyes.
The Baal Sabha was concluded with an acknowledgement of the efforts put in by the children throughout their journey with UPAY. The titles and the winners included Feroz for Quick Learner, Neha for Regularity, Anshika for sincerity, Jumer as a good player and Bijoy for creativity. Children were also applauded for their performance during a test conducted the week before and they included Aditya, Rani, Gaurav and Rahul. Awarded a kit containing stationery items, the children were more than happy to have their endeavours realized. The UPAY volunteer support included Akhil, Shalini, Harsha, Mithila, Simant and Jasmine. The delight and rejoicing registered at the event clearly communicated that “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
By – Jasmine Kalsi