Report by: Rekha Devadiga - PR of Devadiga Youth Wing Mumbai
Event held on: 27 November 2011.
What does it mean to be an orphan? Many people feel orphaned at different times in their lives; however, there is a vast difference between feeling like an orphan and being orphaned - abandoned. An orphan is a child who has lost both its parents because of death or bereft of both their care; the child has no parents regardless of the circumstances, the child is an orphan.
Children are allowed to consider them adults only when they are eighteen - that is, when they can vote, because they can think for themselves and take care of themselves. Before that they are not able to look after themselves.
Consider the orphan who one day has the security and structure of a home, parent(s) and family and the next day has none of these. The floor hasn't just dropped; it has disappeared. Wiped out - nothing.
The Devadiga Youth Wing members were prepared mentally of what to expect , but did not realize the depth of the sanctity of what they were about to do when they walked purposefully to the orphanage in Bandra East Community Centre run by Nobertine Fathers on the 27th of November, 2011. (The above passage is a clear indication of what they saw)
Accompanied by their mentor, Shri Ravi Ullal, the team entered the premises of the orphanage with a sense of giving something back to the society, as 55 pairs of mischievous eyes peered at them, as they made their way to the 1st floor hall.
The team met Mr. John and Father Cyril, the manager, who welcomed the group warmly. The comforting look on Fr. Cyril’s face had a story to tell. All about the lives of the deprived yet animated residents.
Eager for a touch, a hug and some words of love and concern these boys’ ages ranging from an age group of 5-17 years smiled brightly at the “guests”. One could see all kinds of personalities in them, some were short, tall, naughty, quiet, innocent faced, talkative, inquisitive…..you name it and you could them there.
The activity commenced with Mr. Ravi broke the ice and “pulled down the barrier” as he casually broached the day’s agenda. To do so he showed them a “magic trick” of his application and importance of Bluetooth device. The members were spellbound to see that the kids knew a lot about Bluetooth and various technological devices. Although they knew what it was called they did not clearly understand the actual use.
The event followed with the introduction of the members and their professions and how each was doing to contribute and benefit the society. The idea was to awaken the boys to think in the similar manner when it was their turn to speak. The kids followed suit with their introductions and what they would like to become in future. While Rohit and Ganesh wanted to become soldiers, Amir expressed his desire to become a social worker and uplift the society. Akshay wished to become a pilot and Aaron, a hip hop dancer.
The activities started with Amir Khan singing two beautiful songs. His voice touched the chord of each one present in the room. It followed with fun games like ‘Fire in the mountain’ where all the kids as well as the team members had a gala time running around, also with Gaurav Devadiga providing background music for the game. Finally, the winning team was applauded and prizes were announced.
By this time, everyone in the room was hungry to the core. The kids were provided with a sumptuous meal of chicken biryani, funded by the Devadiga Sangha, Mumbai and arranged by Deekshith Devadiga. One important detail which could have been missed was the way the kids prayed before commencing their lunch was a prayer which was led by a small yet sprightly Rahul. He started by saying “Om Shri Ganesh Shayan Namah” Followed by Allah O Akbar and finally in the name of the Father, The Son, The holy Spirit Amen. The kids displayed that there is no Hindu or Muslim or Christian among them. Each one of them is a human being and has a right to live and let live. The people who fight in the names of religions should definitely learn the virtue of secularism from these kids.
With food in the tummy and too lazy for more masti, everyone settled for a movie, 3 Idiots. The kids had a gala time watching Rancho, Chatur, Millimeter and Virus. The movie followed with a game of basketball, football and cricket in the courtyard. The members showed their sporty side and enjoyed with the kids.
With all the fun and frolic done, a dental checkup camp was conducted for the kids by Dr. Preeti Devadiga and Dr Shwetha Sherigar. Initially, the kids got scared with the mirrors, pliers and drills. However, after a little coaxing the kids had their checkup. The doctors informed the kids about the importance of dental care. Dr. Preethi even conducted an extraction.
Yet another unique sight which caught everyone’s fancy was when Fr. Cyril sat on a chair just to be an observer along with Mr Ravi, the smaller kids just came and began sitting on his lap shoulders and some even pinching his cheeks. This spectacle actually brought tears in the eyes of some of the members. Speaking to Mr. Ravi, Fr. Cyril mentioned that while most of the boys attended regular school (although in the lower standards) and some had been admitted into the Municipal Schools, they all enjoyed their days. He mentioned 3 boys who had topped their class every year and had even been awarded prizes at the hands of the school principal. 2 of the boys were attending college. There was only rare case of indiscipline but eventually it was settled when the boy was handed Rs. 50 and asked to leave the hostel. Without a moment’s hesitation the boy retraced his steps back into the dormitory.
Finally, each member of the Youth Wing distributed the prizes to the winners and the day ended with a thank you speech and a group photo. It was very painful to leave the kids after spending such a memorable time with them. The members left the orphanage with a heavy heart but with lots of positive energy and a promise to visit the kids again.
The visit to the orphanage not only showed the youth members the ugly truth about life, it also gave them something to look within themselves, that they were blessed in their present circumstances by the Almighty. The experience was harsh, like a slap on the face and yet it the bright smiles on the faces of each and every child on that day did more than just lift their spirits and look at the brighter side of what they had done for the children.
That evening they all felt that they had indeed made a place in the minds of the children, having represented The Devadiga Sangha and contributed to the city’s section of the underprivileged as an act of solidarity ,the city they have become part of over the years.
Shri Ravi Ullal – Mentor
Rekha Ashok Devadiga
Veena M. Devadiga
Veena B. Devadiga
Dr. Preeti Devadiga
Dr. Swetha Sherigar
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