Saturday, October 07, 2006

A day with the children

It was a big day for them and for me too. The young girls wore flowers on their hair - Jasmine and roses, along with the school ribbons. Some of them wore jewellery above their shirt collars. Girls! Even when the uniforms are faded and not ironed properly, a rose in the hair and a shining stuff around our necks gives us the confidence to take on the world. Almost all of them did not wear shoes except for those in the higher classes.

Was involved in a medical Camp in rural Bangalore for children. There were lots of them, in fact much more than we had anticipated, all poor and many ill. Children to my right, children to my left, children children everywhere. I was not prepared for such enormity in the number but the experience was very fulfilling in terms of actually witnessing life beyond IT, the sheer ubiquity of poverty and the awful contrast to the lives of some in the city a few kilometers away.

It was an eye-opener to the population figure of our country and what it could mean. So far, it had only been statistics, ______ no. of children do not have access to medical facilities, _____ no. of children drop out of school by _____ age.

Many of them suffered from jaundice. The teacher said the parents knew but did nothing. There was a 9 yr old, who was deaf but neither the teachers nor his parents knew about it. Everyone including us were stunned when the medical check-up revealed this. There was this little one, who was physically disabled, launching himself in a shuddering gait to measure his weight, and another 6 yr old, who cried as he was scared to climb on the weighing machine, having never seen one. They were all there; the smart ones, the silent ones, the cute ones, and the naughty ones.

If some director has spotted a muse from a newspaper; she was my Yamini- Deepika, 8th standard, sitting poised among her classmates.

We hear so much about children these days and how parents send them for piano, painting, Shiamak Davars, Bharatnatyam classes and what have yous? They don’t have time to be themselves; they don’t have time for bruises on their knees. They need to know verses and lines from Milton and Shakespeare, to enter an LKG. When they get 98%, parents ask them where has the other 2 % gone. These are children of our times and those were children of our times too - waiting eagerly for the medical proceedings to get over just to claim their share of eatables from us and run home.

The prescription, and the medicines really didn’t matter.

Well, I was out from 6 in the morning and then back by 7.30 pm. Thought I would sleep early or indulge in one of those unashamed escapism of Bollywood movies, but watched I am Sam. I don’t know if it was the whole experience of the day or just me. I was so moved by the movie that I cried until my head ached.

16 comments:

austere said...

You went. You did what you could. You will go back.
That is a start, is it not?
Bless you!

Arunima said...

yes, i will be going back. A couple of times more. It was fun actually to be with them.

Nautilus said...

Its amazing the kind of happiness children can bring to your life. For a while I was involved in a program rehabilitating street children in Hyd...I met some amazing kids there...so talented, so full of life...I wanted to adopt every one of them! But you have to have a stomach to witness their plight and not break down and cry...

Good going! :-)

Himanshu said...

Good stuff Arunima. Keep the good work up.

Bless you.

der Bergwind said...

98% of the children don need to worry abt that 2% they 'lost in translation'! but still we all drive, strive to clap for the enlightened souls

sumtimes the gud samaritan awakes inside n we get those CRY cards to help out.. 'we' as in junta... never was life more complicated.. hope we all return to innocence soon!

observor said...

I like the way you put things. It's good that you stopped worrying about yourself. And really.. the purest form of life is childhood :-)

anumita said...

That was great. Being with children can also teach us much more and show us life in a beautiful way.

Pranjal said...

Great work! Really inspiring! Keep it up!

noodles said...

i want to do wht u did, but am scared tht it wud be selfish of me to do so..

manuscrypts said...

in both cases, it is a childhood lost... hmmm, this is in context..
http://manuscrypts.blogspot.com/2005/01/amazing-race.html

d4u said...

Keep up the good work:)

Stone said...

heartbreaking!!!
***
btw, tag ho gaya!

Anonymous said...

Why did you go ? Was it official or voluntary ? That reminds me of my concept of a children farm. I am now not referring to just corruptcy products. All products. But I always have this question in my mind. Are we responsible for the world's worries ? It seems Gandhi actually cried a lot seeing the condition of the poor Indians. I don't know if he watched movies before crying...

However, here is a suggestion. Open an ICICI account. Put it in your blog as "For the children's Fund". Use the power of your words to make a difference. And stop crying.. and start glowing...

Spam Lal

sinusoidally said...

Good job Arunima.

zingtrial said...

Hi! Looks like you doing a grand job.Keep up the good work and yes children can bring joy and happiness to one's life .Thansk for sharing.
Wish you well

Indra said...

Hi

Though a late comment ..donno if you will ever read this..
If you are serious abt children and voluntary works... go to Samarthanam in Jayanagar 9th Block, behind Woody's Restaurant..
there you will find some of the most talented and adorable children..
it is compltely voluntary..say 2 hrs evry Saturday...
Best of Luck!!