Category Archives: CRY Kolkata Recent posts
On the 10th of June, 2018 Aashayien took place at Indian Museum. It was a great honour to be present as an intern representing CRY. The interns reached their respective camps at 9 in the morning, so did I go to Dhapa, my respective camp. The other children were from the slums of Rajabazar, Kalighat, Topsia, Dhakuria and Howrah. The happy glowing faces of the children started off our day. The buses picked us up and we went for our day out. We reached the venue and the children were given snacks to munch on while the workshops were being prepared. The event was inaugurated by Atindra Nath Das, the Regional Director of CRY (East). Soon a very well known TV soap opera star, Debolina Dutta came in and the children could not hold on to themselves. She gave them a talk about the importance of education in all aspects and professions of life. The children were awed. This was followed by the art workshop, where all children were given paper, crayons, pencils and all the things needed to make their masterpieces. They all dug in their papers. Some drew beautiful scenarios; some drew cute little houses they all wish to wake up in, some little ones just created some small objects which instantly dyed our whole day colourful. Their full on energy continued on in the next workshop where a group of very famous dancers taught the children a lot about representing nature through dance moves. They all grooved and moved, laughed and danced at the same time. After all the tiring fun, we all headed for our lunch. Delicious packets of food for lunch arrived from Rajdhani. After filling up all our stomachs, back with energy, the children headed with us to some of the rooms of the Indian Museum. It was the perfect spot for all of them, like a science field trip from school, which they usually do not get. Soon, with all our excitements the crew of the movie, Uma arrived. Srijit Mukherji, Anupam Roy, Anirban Bhattacharya and Sara Sengupta were all there. They interacted with the children for some time. The children showed them their self-made science projects. At 4 pm we started wrapping up, and the bus took us back to our camps where we dropped our children back home with their glowing faces. I was delighted to have such an amazing day, all credits to CRY for giving me such an extra-ordinary day.
It’s 10 already and the volunteer intervention area at Razabazaar is gearing up for the weekend sessions. In some time the energy of the whole place will change. The children will start chirping, their excitement will mix with the volunteers’ enthusiasm. There will be fun and frolic for which the children wait eagerly all week.
I always knew CRY has started working in our community. And things will change! Every week I will see the “bhaiyas” and the “didis” coming and spending time with the kids. They will teach them but their approach will be quite different- there will be no boring lectures rather everyone will have so much fun! I myself am very driven when it comes to children. I love them-I teach them-everyday I make sure to spend time with them but I wanted to do more, I wanted to do better.
One day, probably 2 years back, I saw a poster notifying that CRY volunteers will organize a health camp for the children in the community. It was for the first time I saw something like this happening. I decided to enroll. As I went to attend, I was overwhelmed by the sincerity of the CRY volunteers. They were so passionate so kind to all of us. The doctors checked us up and prescribed the next steps- the volunteers did not stop at that; they followed up with our parents and with us to ensure we take medicines properly and follow the instructions given by the doctors.
I decided to join the volunteer sessions since that day and every session brought about a new learning in me. I was always very shy and could not articulate my thoughts but as days passed, I started changing. Today I am much more vocal, confident and can decide for myself. I wished to volunteer for CRY and the CRY representatives took me in with an open arm. However, I had to prepare myself hard and had to wait till I became 18. I became the first community volunteer from Razabazaar. I know and firmly believe that the key to resolve our problems lie with us. We have to take charge and change our present in order to get a bright future; for all of us, especially for the children.
Today, I am known face in the community as I would go door-to-door to consult the parents why their children should attend our sessions. The intervention started with less than 10 children and today, after a proper community calling there will be at least 60-70 happy faces, eager to learn. I think this is what I take back home.
After I finish my class 12 board exam, I want to pursue law. Tough, I would continue my sessions. Already I have managed two of my friends, from the community, to join me in my endeavour. I am sure a day will come when the intervention area will be filled with volunteers from the community.
Zeeshan just turned 18. We cannot imagine our work in the Rajabazar community without his help. You have to see him in action to believe it!
I am a survivor of clinical depression. I confess.
I screamed at my parents; every day, every hour. I confess.
I blacked out during my first year college exams. I confess.
Shaggy hair. Unchanged clothes. Ugly crying through the night. Pills swallowed and a blade hidden under my mattress. I confess.
It was scary. It was grotesque. It was madness. I confess.
Though that changed. Not over a day. Not over a single mail. Not over a single orientation. It took a week, a few months and a couple of years.
CRY invited me to volunteer. I was introduced to a community. A Geography teacher, a Merchant Navy officer, a group of sophomores, a post-graduate, an IT specialist, a marketing associate.
I was re-introduced to a community. A different venue, this time. Homemakers gathered around the community tap, children peering through drawn curtains, a sister carrying her baby brother on her back, a teenager sitting inside the family store – a pen and an exercise book in his hand, finishing his homework for the day. Lanes were narrow, rooms were pigeon-coups. Littering all around; puddles and mud to fill the spaces.
I felt privileged. I felt ashamed.
My very first assignment came. The role of a teacher in a skit. Lines upon lines to remember. Bengali never seemed so impossible.
Time for a community call. Heard my co-volunteers discussing the posters they made and a night that they sacrificed. Curious faces looked up to us. A volunteer sat down with a lady on the rail-lines and conversed about the education of children. A group of prepubescent shouted out to us. They have pasted the poster in every lane, carried the spare and distributed it among their neighbours. I witnessed something new that day. I witnessed enthusiasm.
A stereotype was broken. Far from the sketches of our dailies. Numbers become people. Pictures become faces.
A single room, it is known as the local club. About ten volunteers, about double the number of children. Sometimes the light did not work, the ceiling fan refused to be switched on. It was raining cats and dogs. The sun was beating down on everyone’s back. The cold was trying to give us frostbite. The children remained, so did we.
The second phase of my journey began. Some had their classes and others their jobs to attain. No one was available. I volunteered and I surprised myself. No push was there, no pressure. It felt right. It felt natural. I started visiting Government schools, both fully and partially sponsored. The ceiling had its plaster peeling off. The computers no longer worked. A monitor was even stolen. Children milled about during their recess. A girl wished me afternoon. Another told me about the midday meal she had. The teachers stood up, pulled their chairs for me. Asked if I want any drink? I was astonished.
A man came to visit the principle. He smiled shyly and said to her about the decision of letting his daughter continue her studies, marriage will only happen when the girl gets herself established.
The principal in the second school talked animatedly to me. Pointed at the newly potted plants. The ground that has been swept, no rubbish for a few months at least.
CRY donated laptops to them. An initiative to digitalise the curriculum. Every Tuesday I met the interns, I met a co-volunteer who came running after his CAT prep sessions. A guide text was prepared and translated. We taught and teachers learned.
Quarterly visits were made by Anindita Di – part my mentor and the rest my friend. There were days when I phoned her up; exasperated, lonely and struggling. She talked about her initial days, sketched me a motivation. Her days, her nights and in betweens – the conflicts, the frustration and the sheer urge to quit. She made it feel natural; she prepared and guided me through.
And she become much more. She became a family.
Then there were a thousand days and a million nights – I attended the health camp with a running fever, counselling the families in medicine and practices. I gave a talk before a room full of guardians and school staff. My hands were still trembling, my heart still beating a staccato. I still lived to tell the tale.
Children changed my life. I confess.
Volunteering changed my life. I confess.
I still have my inhibitions in giving a talk. I still have bad days. I still get overwhelmed facing so many challenges. I confess.
CRY made me smile and changed my life for better. I confess.
CRY VOLUNTEER at Dhakuria
SAMSA organized ‘Udaan’: a health camp for the deprived kids in a slum near Rajabazaar and Ballygunge area, Kolkata in association with Child Rights and You. 200 children from the surrounding slum areas attended the camp. SAMSA volunteers did a basic health checkup including visual and hearing tests followed by anthropometry and counseling regarding hygiene, diet and prevention of some common diseases. Interns attended to their specific health ailments. The follow up of those needing further interventions will also be done by the CRY volunteers and the doctors from SAMSA.
I am T.A.Nagalakshmi doing Political Science Honours (1st year) under the Department of International Relations in Jadavpur University. My journey with CRY started when I completed my class 12 exams this year. While I was looking for some kind of part time job, I got the opportunity to do internship in CRY. I did surveys regarding child labour, took exams of children in Dhakuria PAG, and was part of the Aashayein event. Those experiences were so pleasant that I didn’t want to leave working with this organization and those lovely kids.
That’s when I decided to do volunteering. I started volunteering in Kalighat-Chetla PAG from the month of June. Being almost the younger member of the core group was something very special and I realized the trust that Anindita Ma’am had on me. Even though not a professional teacher, I started to provide the children with that knowledge that I had received. The number of children at the beginning was around 10. Going to the PAG on Sunday morning 9:45, children coming to learn, leaving the PAG at 12- this became a part of my weekly routine.
Even though I was committed to other priorities too, I did not want to miss that one class in which I got a chance to see so many children together. Each and every child had a talent, one could sing, the other could dance, while some could paint so beautifully that I myself got inspired from them. There have been days when I had thought that even I had got an opportunity to learn several things but why did I waste them. These children could not afford paying in other activities but they had such immense talent within them. That day, I got to learn a lesson from them that every chance should be utilised to its fullest because every chance is a golden opportunity.
The journey with CRY has been quite good that it cannot be described in just few words. From being a teacher to a good friend, CRY and those children are an important part of my life. Their smile is something valuable that easily brings happiness to others life. There have been several inspiring and beautiful moments of which I would like to share2 of them. There is a boy named Manab who is 6 years old. Every week he turn up to the session with punctuality only to learn ‘A B C D….’ .I have always admired his sincerity. These children always look up for something that they can learn and enrich themselves in that field. One of those kids is Sushobon who draws so beautiful. It’s hard to believe but yes, he doesn’t goes to a drawing class and it’s purely his natural talent.
Volunteer- Kalighat Public Action Group.