One Afternoon With Children

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A few days earlier when “Child Rights And You” organised an one day event where all the members of the group participated for an interaction session with the kids of a government school located at Karyavattom, Trivandrum, it was something which would definitely stay in my mind fresh for a very long time.

I was the only one in the group who exactly wasn’t aware what to do. All others had previously thought of some activities which included a drawing and an interactive session with children .

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We were split into groups of three and sent to various classes ranging from first standard to sixth standard. I was sent to the sixth standard where I met those energetic children who all invited us and very excited to know what he had on board. We gave them some drawing sheets along with some crayons, and told them to let their creativity let loose. Initially they were all very hesitant. But we encouraged some students to sketch about their imaginations and about their thoughts and we were simply surprised by their creativity. I engaged with some of the kids talking about their school and their daily routine. Everyone responded quite good without any hesitation. It was the first time I knew what true happiness is, by making them smile. Their words and actions reminded me of my childhood. Their smile gave me pleasure, their excitement made me happy, and their determination pushed my confidence.

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We ended the session by distributing students some sweets and acknowledging the fact that they were awesome artists. It was fun interacting with the kids and sharing what little we had. It gave me the feeling of achieving something and gave me determination to indulge in such activities in future. I am proud of my team that we successfully completed our first activity that we planned and wish to successfully complete all that we undertake in future.

This experience is shared by K Sai Prashant, CET

A Rewarding Experience

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Ardent desire to comprehend the functioning of a PAG landed me to the entrance of CRY whose PAG was recently started in the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum by the final year students of CET. Without any procrastination, the Trivandrum PAG commenced to brace the mission of CRY by conducting an interactive session with the tiny tots of the Karyavattom UP school on 27th Feb 2017 from 1:30pm-2:30pm.

We a group of volunteers who encouraged the children to bring out the artists in them. The moment we entered the class, the students welcomed us with a beautiful smiles.The students also showcased their singing & dancing abilities.The imaginative power of the tiny tots were illustrated well in the sheets we had provided.

I still remember a boy who had drafted a plan to seize the thieves through his painting. I have got to learn some of the best lessons from these little minds through this one hour session. The confidence displayed by the tiny tots had in fact turned on the otherwise introverted me for the interactions.I strongly believe that if trained properly these children can prove to be great asset for our country. To be frank, the time one spends with children can assure beautiful memories. I look forward for more such moments which I can treasure forever. As a citizen ,I do have lot of expectations on CRY.I do believe that this particular NGO can bring smile in the face of the not so privileged children since it plays a key role in the setting of guidelines for child rights in our country.I hereby extend my full support as a volunteer & as an individual towards this venture.

Looking forward for a great volunteering experience in CRY.

This is the experience shared by Reshma L.R, CET, with CRY.

Diary of a Momentous Day by “Bonjour Events”.

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In its quest to support and revive the basic rights of the underprivileged children such as protection, development, and nourishment CRY with its volunteers and management is known to conduct many events with an aim to raise awareness and garner respect for their cause.
One such event conducted by the CRY foundation during Diwali led us to a meeting with two of its volunteers, Sumit and Swarchaa, while the duo was seen managing and celebrating the festival of light with the underprivileged children at CRY. The festivity started with the children painting and lighting the Diya. These children displayed immense talent when they made Diwali cards with their parents. Each one outdid the other and they looked immensely happy to be a part of the entire celebration. We particularly want to mention a young girl who taught us how to make a gift box out of paper! Also, there was one kid who apparently was weak in a couple of academic subjects. One of the volunteers made a promise to tutor him during the weekend! It was such a heart renting sight to see the underprivileged ones enjoy so much as they got themselves clicked and burst crackers. We were amazed at the amount of patience the volunteers had to keep as they managed the group of naughty kids who were just being themselves. These volunteers take time out from their extremely busy schedules and serve CRY with all their heart selflessly. We too wanted to get this extremely satisfying feeling of being able to bring a smile to these pretty faces.  Learning about their experiences, we too were excited by the opportunity of making a difference and contributing towards bringing a positive change in the lives of these beautiful little souls.

We decided to go ahead with the same and were lucky to get an appointment with the manager at CRY: Soumya Suresh. We couldn’t have arrived at a better time as volunteers’ day was soon approaching and the CRY management was in search of volunteers who could selflessly support their cause. We decided to take a plunge and partnered with CRY for the catering of food through our event management company “Bonjour Events”.

There is no better sight than to see the young children smile and feel important. It is extremely satisfying if you are the reason behind it. Being a part of the event wherein the management awards those volunteers who take time out from their busy schedules and serve these underprivileged children with all their heart was an experience of its own. There were around 60-70 volunteers from different age groups present and each one made sure not to miss this event even if that meant not going to their regular work or joining it after their working hours! There were a number of games and other events conducted for these volunteers and one could see the selflessness and enthusiasm with which they contributed to the cause of bringing delight and respect into the lives of the innocent children.  We were extremely overwhelmed with the entire experience and want to relive such wonderful moments over and over again. We at “Bonjour Events” look forward to many such opportunities of partnering with CRY in the near future.

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How can being a volunteer change a Life – yours and someone else at the same time?

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CRY’s volunteers make up one of the pillars that support the organization. The work that they do not only changes the lives of the underprivileged children that they work with, but changes the lives of the volunteers themselves as well. As an intern, my work wasn’t with children but involved interacting with the volunteers. I helped organize the International Volunteer Day celebration which commemorates all the work that they’ve done. In the process, I came across a lot of pictures, videos, and articles, all of which tell a story. 

The collective effort of all the volunteers is what helps CRY achieve its goals. There are countless stories of the work and changes made by them. Here are just a few examples;

Suraj Shetty, a project management intern, has been volunteering for CRY since July 2016 at one of CRY’s Public Action Groups (PAGs). Their work had been very challenging initially, as the children of the area never went to school and had no knowledge of language or alphabet. Despite these obstacles, within a month of starting, there was a visible change in the children. Their attention was now directed towards learning activities and not the meaningless, unproductive activities they wasted away at before. The lessons on hygiene and healthy eating habits also proved to be effective as they started wearing footwear, their clothes were cleaner and they were taking care of their surroundings. Suraj and his PAG members were ecstatic at the change they made, as small changes like these have a lasting effect, and are what the volunteers strive for.

Deepashri Shekhar, a BDS student, says that CRY is one of the best things to happen to her. She has been volunteering for almost a year now, but she has made memories she will cherish for life. CRY had organized an exposure trip visit to Madanapally in Andhra Pradesh, where the volunteers met the girls at an orphanage there. This was one of her most memorable moments as a volunteer because the girls were all waiting with smiles on their faces and roses in their hands, and as the volunteers entered, they ran towards them and gave them the roses with so much joy, that Deepashri said that she felt like a “dewdrop in an ocean, surrounded by beauty and joy all around me.”

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According to Pulkit Dave, an engineering student, his Sundays are monotonous and boring unless he meets the children who, with their smiling faces and tendering hands, refresh him and make his day fun. He looks forward to this, every weekend as their enthusiasm is contagious and it brings back the child in him, and the joy he receives from this is incomparable to anything else.

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A volunteer of five years, Pramod, says that his most memorable moments as a CRY volunteer is “Witnessing the volunteers –  from corporate honchos to calculus solving students, from the ambitious to the urban swag youngsters. All of them getting into the act of ‘basic children handling’ during a field activity.” He cherishes the memories of dealing with the mischievous but fun types of children, the poor jokes made to make the children laugh, the PAG meeting arguments and the post PAG tea and Dhaba visits. Pramod works in the Supply Chain industry.

Mitha Balagopalan, a consultant at Microsoft said, “My most memorable moment as a CRY volunteer was the summer camp which was held in the month of June 2016. I was a part of Kalyan PAG in Mumbai and it was truly an amazing experience interacting with children and knowing how talented each of them was.”

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Another volunteer, Kunal Kothari, said that his most memorable moment at CRY was during his initial volunteering days in 2015. He was at the Madiwala PAG, which is a very friendly place for volunteers to work. He came across a girl named Shanta around 8-10 years of age, who was begging on the street. She wanted to become a doctor and the reason she was begging was because her father was an alcoholic and she was funding his habit. The volunteers got an idea to put her in a government hostel where she could attain a basic education. Convincing her elders and parents was very difficult and her father was very against the idea, to the extent that he even threw stones on the volunteers. Despite all this, the volunteers did not lose hope. Finally, they managed to take Shanta to the hostel at BOSCO MANE. She continues to stay at BOSCO MANE and the volunteers all pray that she comes out with flying colors and achieves her dreams one day.

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The story of Anjali Shivanand is also one that stands out. She is a Legal Researcher in the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University. It is due to the exposure she got an internship at CRY that she chose a path of child rights. Her most memorable moments at CRY are from the street plays that she was a part of as an intern and when she continued as a volunteer where she had to opportunity to interact with the local communities and the other volunteers as well. She spread awareness on the Right to Education Act 2009 and was overwhelmed with the response she got from the communities she interacted with. She has been a volunteer since 2011 and has cherished all the memories she has made, from exposure visits to summer camps, medical camps and meeting government representatives – all to make a change in the lives of the children in our country.

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The dedication and commitment of the volunteers are commendable and inspiring. Even after the conclusion of my internship, I hope to work to make a change for the better. This has been my first ever internship and the experience has been wonderful, and I hope the ones that follow turn out to be just as fun and fulfilling.

In the end, I would conclude with

 Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can – be a Volunteer

Towards Advanced Learning – a trip to museum

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To be a part of this present world is a wonderful experience in itself; everyday coming advancements, ground breaking discoveries every minute, and inventions to make our life better and best in this world, have made our existence well placid and contented.  But beside relishing this development, appreciating the progress being made, it’s of utmost importance to understand this evolution and expansion around us. To learn the mechanism, apprehend the logics behind them, a study becomes an indispensable part, and for so, we – CRY Volunteers, decided to take kids to the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum for a leap into the pool of wisdom available for everyone to dive in.

As planned, we, volunteers, gathered in the madiwala area to pick up all kids. I knew it was going to be a fun-filled and an informative day, and when I saw the brewing curiosity on kid’s face, I became more sure and confident of this outing. To embark our day, we booked the cabs to reach the destination. All of the kids were really excited, and inside silently contemplating  “ How would a trip to museum be like? ” – as most of them had never been to a museum before.

When we reached outside the museum, kids rushed out of the cabs and started hooting as they could not keep their excitement to themselves anymore. To end their wait, we went inside and not only kids but we all volunteers were stunned too by the huge building and the artifacts it had kept. Fascinated by everything there, we went to each section and explained the kids about different mechanical, electrical, computer basic processes. They were happy or rather excited to know about magnetism and aviation mechanism. I remember vividly, there was one kid who was smartest of all and seemed really interested in knowing every detail about everything. Also, I found out that he was part of the museum visit last year too, thereby he remembered all of it. To my surprise, he knew stuff about windmills, trains, and mechanical motors. He also corrected me if I went wrong anywhere in explaining basics to other kids. Further, to make this visit a little playful, we started playing a bit in the mirror maze and solved some puzzles.

It took us almost 4 hours to roam around the whole place and understand bits and bytes of the things at the display. Finally, in the evening, we all decided to head back, but before we left we made kids eat snacks and light food to regain some energy and to remember this day forever, we clicked few pictures.

If I have to sum up this experience in just one line, then I would say

“It was not just a trip to a museum, but a step towards the advancement I wish to see for these kids to understand and become part of ”

Diwali with CRY …

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A festive season was around the corner, and a joyous, exhilarating vibe was hitting every single person. People were excited about the feast, and so was I.  Since, It was Diwali, thereby everywhere, I could see uncountable flickering tiny bulbs; buildings were laden with celebration lights, stars and what not. Everybody wanted their place to shine brightest and look bestest. My friends and colleagues, all started to leave for their hometown, and amidst all of this, a single though hitting my conscience was “ I’m gonna miss celebrating Diwali with my family”, as I was not going home.

But, this year Diwali was not like as I thought it would be. On the very auspicious day, CRY gave me an opportunity to celebrate it with the another family, I had become part of a year back. Yeah, this year, I celebrated Diwali with the kids and volunteers – I got to celebrate it with my ‘CRY Family’ and to my surprise, it was as much fun and festivity as it would have been at my home. To mark the beginning of the day, we went to the Madiwala area, gathered kids from all around, and started activities session with ‘Diya Making’. We asked kids to make ideas using clay and paint them later. Further, to make it more fun, we asked them to make paper lamps. I was stunned to see the creativity of the kids – the colorful Diyas and Lamps which these kids made were not only beautiful but also the testament of the talent which they have been hiding. To complete the day, we brought some crackers for the kids to burn as we all knew that kids would love it. The day was passing by but the energy in kids was only going up, as we kept moving from one activity to another. Everybody knows that “No festival is festival until you share sweets among everyone “. Therefore, to make this day, even more, sweeter, we shared sweets amongst kids and prayed the lord to bless everyone.

This all happened in Madiwala Church – around 10 volunteers and 25  kids from the basti joined to make this day blissful. Even the youngest ones of the society became the part of the grand celebration and were the center of attraction. To make it more memorable, some of the kids even brought the Ganesha Idols, which they had learned to make during Ganesh Chathurthi workshop, for Diwali pooja. For me, everything was overwhelming and more than what I had expected. I knew that I was missing my home, but what all happened in one day on this Diwali was more than I could have asked for this grand festival and for this, this experience will always have a special corner in my memories.

Experience by Swarchaa Kataria, CRY volunteer from Bangalore on her Diwali celebration away from family,  with CRY Volunteers and Kids.

What I learned from other volunteers like me…

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“Children are the future leaders.”

This phrase never had a strong impact on me till I worked with #CRY for a college project. We celebrated children’s day with the children of GMPS School and had a wonderful time interacting and playing with them while learning a lesson or two from them about love, care, teamwork and opportunity. They were a lively bunch and instantly gelled with all the volunteers and made us all smile. Volunteers at CRY-Child rights and You help children across the country, through various initiatives.

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I met children who valued education, people, their teachers, their school, their lives and everything that belonged to them. Volunteering for CRY taught me that these children enjoyed the attention and the knowledge we had to share with them. I enjoyed the experience because I saw exactly why the other volunteers worked so hard to help them grow. These ever smiling children wanted to show us that they indeed were appreciative of our effort and were grateful for every little step we built for them towards achieving their dreams.

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I wanted to speak with other volunteers to see what they had to say and how they made time to help out with these initiatives. Vishnu, an engineer who volunteers with CRY greeted me with a smile. “I love children; I needed a platform to help children who didn’t receive all that they deserved. I joined Dell after college and I really felt it was time for me to invest some of myself into an NGO that worked for kids. A colleague of mine mentioned about CRY and told me they were efficient in contributing to child rights initiatives. Now, Mahalia and I spend our weekends on ArtSpark, an initiative by an NGO facilitated by CRY. We take visual and creative art classes for 6th and 7th-grade children of GMPS and other such government schools. It has been two years now and the program has resulted in a huge success and it is endearing to see how fast these children are grasping the knowledge we impart. It’s a chance for us to tell them how the society works and how they can adapt to it without losing themselves. Just the way we were taught, they too deserve the knowledge, because if we weren’t taught, where would we be today?” he said while settling down for the show.

I looked at how the children sat around their art teachers excitedly looking ahead to see what their schoolmates had to put up with them on stage. It made me smile at their innocence and happiness about the small joys of life that they treasured.

Then,  I met Parikit, another volunteer of CRY, when I asked him about his experience he replied saying, “I have always been active with NGO’s since college, it was only a matter of time till I came across CRY through another NGO’s association with them. At East-PAG (Public Action Group) where I work part time, I help out with ‘Dramebaaz’, where we train children from these schools in the art of theater and drama every week for about two hours. It has been merely two months at CRY for me, but the association with them has taught me more than imagined. The children run to us with excitement and it shows us that we are making a difference and that brightens up my weekend, making me more eager for the next weekend.” It was really interesting how there were so many creative ways to teach these children about society and it only inspired me to be a bigger part of it.

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After a really inspiring speech by Rahul Iyer, I went up to him to understand his views on child rights and how volunteering for the organization had been his primes focus apart from his regular career.
He smiled saying, “I woke up this morning feeling thankful for being a part of the Volunteering team and CRY. I drove here hoping this year would be even better than last year’s program and I was very happy that it definitely was. These children love these celebrations and I have been working with them for more than two years now. They are a very lively bunch of talented individuals. I work with them on holidays and weekends and I teach them arts, crafts, theater and other such subjects. They patiently wait for us to arrive on class mornings and they greet us with so much joy as soon as we reach the place. It is truly worth all the energy we invest in this institution. These are my children, they are my future and I want to achieve the dream of making our future leaders strong and knowledgeable to lead us tomorrow.”

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There’s a place where  innocence is in its purest form. Volunteers at CRY strive to achieve a goal where children can get back to this place where they can learn and grow into better beings. I would love to volunteer again and help these children achieve their goals in every way possible just to keep them smiling as they are.

Authored by Aishwarya Anand, CRY Intern from Bangalore on her first encounter with CRY Volunteers at the Children’s Day celebrations in Bangalore.