This post highlighted by
As Divali , our Festival of Lights, gets under way, the media is full of news about either the Adarsh building scam(where powerful types, and those related to them awarded themselves apartment(s) by creative interpretation, planned ignorance of rules, and stupid bravado), corruption detected in one more big case somewhere, and of course Obama's impending trip this weekend , for which it looks like 10% of the US Government is moving here with their paraphernalia, while residents of areas where he will visit , like the Mahatma Gandhi museum, have been asked, for security reasons, to keep their windows closed when he visits.
Away from all this hype, however, there are several folks who exist, seemingly to ensure, that they bring a daily "Divali" into some one's life. They never get publicized or appear on breaking or non breaking news, but their story needs to be told, to get the citizenry to believe, that Divali is much more than stuffing yourself with sweets, buying a bigger flat television, or a new cell phone that talks and tells you that it is time to recharge.
We've been going to this orphanage each Divali. For many many years. As our thanksgiving gesture and to play with and distribute Divali sweets to the children. Right from when they were an organization that started out of a 3 bedroom apartment taken on rent, which they were later on able to buy with the help of some generous donors. They had some really dedicated staff then almost 20 years ago, and barring those who time has claimed, almost all are there today.
Unlike the impression one gets from reading newspapers, there are strict rules about running orphanages, enjoying government aid and grants , submitting so many different types of reports, financial and otherwise , and subjecting themselves to inspections from the authorities. Those who have nothing to hide, comply with all this, and do well. Those that don't, are the ones that appear in newspapers, and then face the law.
When it looked like the original place was going to be too small, the authorities of the orphanage decided to raise funds for a building and approached everyone , including the government for help. Several donors , numerous ordinary middle class folks , some socially conscious industries, some from overseas, Indians , who dedicatedly gave of themselves on a yearly basis, helped in a major way. Several years of fundraising later, they now have a building to call their own, the entrance to which takes you, ironically, through the compound of a local police constabulary/office and a municipal hospital for women and children.
They now house children of various ages, right from newborns in cradles, to girls approaching teenage who have no one to call their own.
When we reached their office, there was s flurry of activity, with lots of office staff (all women) getting the Annual report ready for dispatch, alphabetically. The report is a legal requirement and it is a wonderful read , besides the mandatory accounting things, about the adoption activities, the sucesses of some kids, the problems of the organization we can help with, and so on. There were some enthusiastic young girls helping them with putting pre-printed address labels and plastic covers. Turns out they were young orphan girls who lived there and went to school. After a while they rushed away with some other girls, apparently because it was lunchtime.
Various activities in progress as went went around meeting, playing with and distributing sweets to the children. There were absolute newborns in cradles, fast asleep, oblivious to anything including Divali. Another room had the very young kids, some crawlers, and some who could walk; boys as well as girls. We took the permission of the lady there to distribute sweets. She smiled and said each one could have one, and holding out a full box was not a good idea at that moment, as lunch time was imminent. We agreed to abide by that.
My daughter who loves doing this went in their midst and was mobbed. She shared the sweets with them, and then handed the box to the lady saying she would be distributing later after lunch. The slightly older kids were playing in another room also enjoyed the sweets . Banging plastic cricket bats against crackling balls. A little girl kept running after a ball after a hero hit a "boundary" wall, but the batsmen himself reached before her, picked up the ball and gave her a look. They then got my daughter involved and she bowled a few balls to the future cricketers of India. Year after year the thing that stays in my mind has been the cheerfulness of these kids, every single time.
Their own kitchen serves wholesome homestyle food to all the children. The very little ones are fed , and those who can eat on their own, sit along with the others, automatically picking up stuff like finishing everything on the plate, taking their empty plate to the big sink, and piling it neatly there. They have older volunteer folks who come in on a regular basis to tell stories to groups of children. Sometimes wellwishers organize picnics for the kids, with a bus, and games and eats. Many local industries donate useful consumer products they make. And the kids get excellent medical care from the many doctors who offer their services .
We soon had to leave, because there were lots of visitors that day. So many people coming by with new clothes, provisions, toys, eats, books and what have you for the kids. And cheques. So many folks who celebrated Divali by giving, their own Joy-of-Giving week.....
Intelligent future planning in the design of premises has enabled the organization, to start physiotherapy at reasonable fees for those children in need. (see the video on their web page.) Special educators, speech and occupational therapists come every day. There is a counselling section for parents of such children, and a support group of sorts. They have a computer training section where useful basic computer skills and software are taught to young women at a nominal cost, to enable them to take up freelance work and or jobs. You can have a look at all their activities here under the Projects drop down menu..
Confidence in organization building has enabled this organization to also start an Old Age home in Navi Mumbai, along with a home for destitute young women, or women from families with domestic and monetary problems. The women are trained in different courses and skills, so that they have an incentive to work as adults. They have some wonderful schemes where you can help, and bring a wondrous change in a young woman's future.
I often feel we do not highlight such good work enough. The press highlights only the "takers" in society, and very rarely, the quiet "givers".
I thought this Divali was a good time to do this.
So we can believe that good also exists.
And hopefully realize that life isn't all about corrupt politicians and money and land grabbers. And buying the latest HDTV/cellphone/washing machine paying full price, while planning on giving donations in installments.
Its about bringing rays of light into some lives. Not just at festival time, but every day.....
Happy Divali .....
Submitted for the Blogadda Diwali Moments contest
Go to www.myntra.com and check out Myntra Diwali Offer. Shop for Rs 500
and get Rs 500 off on your travel with Cleartrip! Also visit the
largest community of Indian Bloggers at BlogAdda.com