- as penned by Board member Mrs Alo.
- It was the middle of April; the academic year had come to a close.
The buzz running up to exam season had ended. The evening homework help centres both at the office and Angalakuppam village centre premises, with 60 to 80 children dropping in every evening after school that had focused on exam preparation for our children fell silent. Social workers at this time gave special focus for both tuition as well as counselling to those children appearing for their 10th 11th and 12th exams. For Sharana, whose principal tool of empowerment for its children was education, it was mission accomplished for the year. It was now time for the older children and the social workers to await the results of the exam.
- Running up to the holidays our social workers were also engaged in another series of discussions with Rajkala, founder of Sharana and Vandana our programme coordinator. For years, Sharana ran residential summer camps for the students. That model was abandoned last year and explained here and this year once again everyone was unanimous about the fact that the summer camp could not be abandoned. It plays too vital a role of continued positive engagement with the children who otherwise risked falling into bad company, remain unsupervised, be under nourished and even be made to work. Learning from last year’s observations and limitations, a tight plan was made for this one.
At the day-care centre only those children for whom parents and guardians could not arrange alternative care and keep for the period were to attend- this was to limit the number of children at the centre for safety standards. The well being of the rest would be followed by regular outreach to their houses. Beneficiaries from all programmes combined, including children from Angalakuppam would be divided into 4 slabs age group wise and would have weeklong activities organised in the main office. Those children who wanted to continue to remain under Sharana before and after their stint were welcome at the day-care “drop in centre” from end April through till the first week of June. From the 29th of April our office transformed into a tribe of old and young engaged in constructive, recreational, educational, counselling oriented, self defence-oriented sessions. Nutritional meals are central to the programme followed by more relaxed supervised play time for the children. A series of animators come and engage the students in a varied range of topics and activities. There are also yoga and meditation sessions every day. Our website and Facebook page had regular posts from these sessions that capture the mood and colours vividly. Included in the period is a daylong weekly excursion for all children to the Auroville Botanical Garden where Mr. Sathiyamoorthy takes over and gives the children a comprehensive tour of the place and inculcates into the children respect for nature.
The following is the list of animators whose expertise went on to make the sessions productive and enjoyable.
- -Yoga and Meditation- Mr Dasarathan- every morning 1 hour (office)
- -Lakshmi, Tamilselvi (Sharana Village program Staff) warm up and a small meditation every day at Angalakuppam
- Weekly sessions in main office and Angalakuppam
- -Sanchari (Volunteer)- reading aloud and reading along English stories and activities from Story weaver/Pratham Books
- -Mona (Volunteer)-
- —–self-defence with social worker Bhavani with adolescent girls and
- —–positive masculinity with social worker Anbu with adolescent boys
- -Sharan- a Physiotherapy student- ecological awareness- names of birds, snakes, animals, lakes and water bodies,
- -Mr Krishnan- children’s safety, gender discrimination through games/traditional songs
- -Elisabeth Rani- Thannambikai Kalaikuzhu- same as above, did a session on Mother’s Day as well, through songs, motivation, etc
- -Childline (1098) (Collaboration) – Team-child rights, and role of Childline and child safety measures
- -Botanical Garden Auroville- Mr Sathiyamoorthy – ecological and environmental awareness, awareness on water levels, reforestation, medicinal use of plants, importance of water and food, landscaping, importance of trees, avoid wastage of food, save electricity, usage of traditional herbal medicine, importance of clean air etc.
- -Lakshmi- health worker- General hygiene awareness sessions
- This year we ended the camps with a special two-day session with team Samskriya Foundation.
- –Sanskriya Foundation – Mani and Richart conducted “an introduction on robotics” workshop but also raised awareness many social issues such as smoking and on how technology can make our houses safer with heat and smoke detectors. They also taught how bubbles are made through fun activities.
- -Our Sharana Students
- —–Kokulavani- student studying Visual Arts in college, did a session with the children
- —–This year’s Toppers-conducted an interaction for motivation with students
- -Games and art and craft activities with social workers Anbu, Bhavani, Vijji and Chandru
- -All administrative organisation by the team of Social Workers
This model of the summer camp has also reinforced our shift towards value added inputs rather than material support. The change of mindset on dependency has started from the children which we are confident will go a long way in converting the parents. This is also an occasion for children of different programmes to interact with each other, expand their friend circle and have fun in a
“comfort and safe zone”.
- Above all the summer camp is a regrouping of the Sharana family. These are weeks of collective activity, fun, laughter, playful education, excursion, relaxation, commotion and happy buzz. A different logistic machinery is activated, whether it is pickup and drops, meal plans, child safety or activity schedule. The social workers, each with their own little stories of personal adjustments back home with their children too on holiday, look forward to the camp at Sharana, which they think is the period when their horizons are pushed beyond the limits of their programmes and they get to interact with a whole brood of their wards they get to know personally, care and look out for.
- I would like to think all those who come under the umbrella of Sharana including the staff to be part of a tribe. We look out for each other and each child is our own. Our initiation is that hand a parent extends to her child so the little fingers may wrap around it and walk, and the coming of age is the automatic slackening of that grip so the child may realise he can walk on his own….but also moving on always remember that the brood is his always to resource and fall back on in order to walk again.