Penned by Ms. Harshitha, Seeds of Change Project Lead, and Mr. Sarthak Bhattacharya, Intern

A holiday camp for the children of Lycée Français International à Pondichéry was organised at Sharana Social and Development organisation starting from the 24th of October till the 3rd of November except for the 1st of November being a holiday. A total of 33 children enrolled in the camp, while 25 of them attended at least one day of the camp. There were 3 meals every day: one snack in the morning, one snack in the evening, and a wholesome nutritious lunch.

Here is the list of activities the children participated in during the camp:

  • Yoga Asanas
  • Expressive Arts
  • Games (board games and physical)
  • Theatre
  • Games
  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Arts & Crafts

Activities: The children derived immense enjoyment and enrichment from the diverse activities offered, which encompassed yoga asanas, expressive arts, clay work, singing, theatre, and engaging games. In addition to Sharana’s staff, three volunteers from France helped us with all the activities at the camp, also taking the initiative and conducting singing and theatre activities for the children.

The participation of the children in our yoga asanas sessions was a source of great excitement and enthusiasm. It was heartening to witness their active engagement, as they wholeheartedly embraced the practice of yoga. In each session, we have observed the children taking the initiative to showcase individual yoga asanas, demonstrating their newfound knowledge and skills to their peers. This display of leadership and enthusiasm extends even further, with some children expressing a keen desire to teach new yoga asanas to their fellow participants.

Keeping our French immersion goal in mind, a strategic division of activities was implemented, with the older children engaging in theatrical performances while the younger children focused on singing, all facilitated by the assistance of three dedicated French volunteers. This approach not only enabled the older children to cultivate their expressive abilities but also equipped them with the skills to project their voices and articulate their thoughts effectively in the French language, thereby contributing to a comprehensive and enriching learning experience. At the same time, the younger children developed the skill of learning French through singing songs. They enjoyed the activity and also delivered a lovely performance for their parents on the final day of the camp.

Notably, the Expressive Arts sessions garnered exceptional favour among all the children, with inquiries arising as to why the sessions did not take place on one of the days, highlighting their enthusiasm for this creative endeavour.

In the context of the art, children actively engaged in clay work and demonstrated a high degree of enthusiasm for this particular activity throughout the activity. Notably, the children’s creative expressions took diverse forms, with some choosing to craft Ganesha murthies, while others opted to sculpt elephants. This demonstrated both their artistic creativity and cultural awareness, making their participation in the clay work endeavour both enjoyable and educational.

Initially, the children exhibited some reluctance to engage with the reading material, but with patient encouragement and support, they gradually adopted the practice. The older children, in a commendable display of mentorship and support, took the initiative to assist their younger counterparts in matters of vocabulary and comprehension. This act of guiding and nurturing the younger children not only exemplified the values of empathy and collaboration but also highlighted the genuine spirit of unity.

Moreover, a palpable sense of camaraderie blossomed among the children, driven by their willingness to collaborate and support each other in finishing their projects intended for the forthcoming exhibition. This harmonious environment not only fostered their individual growth but also emphasised the inherent value of communal spirit and shared achievement in the context of their collective experience at Sharana.

Performance and Exhibition: Seeing how engaged the children were during the theatre and singing activities, the team decided to encourage them to work towards a performance that was put up for the parents on the last day of the Holiday Camp. This not only encouraged the children to work harder during theatre and singing sessions but it also brought a sense of pride and contentment to the parents.

The performances were followed by an exhibition of all the artwork and clay work the children did over the past two weeks. The children were overjoyed to show their work to their parents. The exhibition brought a happy and meaningful end to a successful first camp.

Food: In the morning, children at Sharana were thoughtfully served a beverage complemented by fresh fruits, including watermelon, apples, guavas, and papayas. During the afternoons, we offered the young ones a well-balanced meal that encompassed a variety of elements to cater to their dietary requirements. Their plates were filled with rice, eggs, appalams (a crisp), and flavorful salad, curd, and vegetables. This well-thought menu not only satisfied their hunger but also promoted their overall health and development.

In the evenings, they were either treated to sundal, a traditional South Indian snack rich in protein and fibre, or a delectable cake that added a touch of sweetness to their day. A notable number of children mentioned that they will miss Sharana’s food once the camp ends.

In conclusion, it was a wonderful two weeks for both the children of the Lycée and the team at Sharana and we look forward to the next Holiday Camp.