(By Vibhore Vardhan, a volunteer with the JJSS)
This summer has been full of magical moments. Some of these moments happened during the camps that we have been organizing in the villages. Here we play games, draw paintings, tell stories, make funny faces, mimic various noises, watch Meena clips, and share a lot of smiles 🙂
One of the highlights was in Rishidev tola of Kharhat village where we had a huge turnout. There were nearly 30 kids from 1st grade or below – most too young to participate in games such as dog & the bone, and leader-leader. As I was thinking of ideas, I remembered the mail from Tejal that had some games in it. One of them was naav meri chali. After just a couple of tries, Brahmanand ji, one of our saathis, and the kids picked-up the activity so well that I’m still mesmerized watching the video.[vimeo 110045869 w=500 h=281]
For the past one year, we had been thinking about engaging with the kids in various JJSS panchayats. But it never went beyond the discussion stages. After running the JJSS children’s club and organizing a couple of workshops in Araria, we (the youth team) felt we were ready to hold similar events in the villages. Also, we had Rudra, a volunteer with background in education, and as we found later, the natural ability to engage kids.
So, couple of days after the Mazdoor Diwas mela, the four of us (Jaikishor, Rudra, Vijay, and me) were on our way to Amgachhi Village near the Nepal border. The first event happened right outside Deepnarayan ji’s house. We made the outside mud wall of his house our projection screen, and the open space near it our sitting area. Rudra held a fascinating introduction round where everyone had to mimic eating their favorite food item. After some hesitation, everyone joined-in the fun. Then, nearly 60 kids drew and painted their favorite pictures. A lot of flowers, as predicted, but some more interesting ones like a school and a colorful girl. This was followed by distribution of Pratham story books (Thanks to Pratham Katihar). Finally, we all watched Meena videos, and Chak De movie. Low sound and all, everyone stuck around until the end!
Since then, we have done these camps in over 10 villages across 5 blocks, and each one has been equally special. These numbers can not express the feeling of immense satisfaction that we all experienced. From the over crowded group in Majrakh school, to the cosy group under the peepal tree in Laxmipur, the participation has always been spell-binding. Even the parents get heavily involved – prompting various animal sounds and even suggesting ideas for the paintings. Rudra even got some old folks to draw pictures – proving there is no age for expressing oneself.
Many of the parents said that it was the first time they had ever seen such activities being done with their children. We felt both elated and saddened upon hearing this. What happened to all those art classes in our schools? What have our schools become if they don’t even provide the basic outlets for creative expressions? No wonder that most of the kids are just satisfied drawing flowers…
Parda waala film, the excitement among the kids and adults for the projector was always palpable. Any and all surface became our screening point, daylight and battery being the only constraints. We tried formats where we had discussion before and after the screenings. We had silent screenings too. Mostly, we got politically correct responses, but more importantly, their facial expressions and other reactions said many untold stories…
(Our goal is to hold at least five such camps every month, and take them to each of the 40+ panchayats where JJSS has a unit, with each unit getting two camps per year. Please leave suggestions or email me other activities that we could do in these camps. And volunteers are always welcome 🙂