What can citizens of a city do together to bridge all socio-economic gaps between them? A glaring example of this was set recently by a volunteer association SWANS (Social Welfare Association of Neo Socialites), who conducted a summer camp for underprivileged children in Bhopal. The month long summer camp, commenced on 3rd May 2015 at two locations Ekant Park and LalGhati Government School in Bhopal. The objective of the Summer Camp was to share creative skills and provide vocational training to these children, that would also help them earn their bread in future.
The activities at the camp included Tee-shirt printing, making Wall hangings and Chinese lanterns, preparing Paper bags from waste newspapers and Flowers from plastic bottles, making Key chains from scooby wires etc. It also entailed fun filled creative activities like Stone and Leaf painting, Ice cream cone making and making Miniatures with paper mashy. The children were also taught performing arts like dance and drama, that they enjoyed thoroughly. Many resource persons offered their voluntary support to this citizen’s initiative, by teaching their skills to the children and volunteers.
Everyday morning 100 children from 7 slums walked up to their nearest camp to learn the skills. The creativity exhibited by the children was fantastic, and the crafts made by them look like works of skilled hands and really appealing. Watching the children work in perfect harmony and help each other out during the activities show that the camp has been able to make a deeper impact on the children. Not only their crafting skills are being chiselled here, but their social skills are also up for betterment. Coming from different parts of the city, they are a mixed bag, but nothing stops them from sharing and caring like they do. Many of them also help volunteers in the organising activities. They are learning to take responsibility, and developing organising and leadership skills too. Ask them why they come to the camp every day, they just smile and say they like it. Little do they know about the amount of happiness amplified in volunteers by their faintest of smiles.
The children’s high spiritedness is immensely inspiring for the volunteers. The positivity of togetherness and learning in a social barrier free environment, has made both sections of society make every day super productive. This year the camp was graced by some accomplished personalities and celebrities too. Starting with Ashoka Fellow, Ms. Ashraf Patel who actively works for youth development and pluralism, we had Bollywood actor, Raza Murad visiting and promoting the effort, followed by a Corporate honcho Mr. Achal Mehra, who set up channels like CNBC, ESPN, AXN in India, giving tips to the volunteers tips on team building. They all appreciated this step taken to uplift underprivileged children. SWANS summer camp ended on 31st May with an exhibition cum sale where people bought the beautiful crafts made by children, which will be used to support the education of these children..
by Tanusha Challotre
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