Samson, 12, had come to draw himself as the Prime Minister of India; as an afterthought he says, “I think I should be the Chief Minister first, and then I’ll strive to be the Prime Minister.” Is this some audacity? A little kid, who says he is 12, but barely looks 10, is saying this, when one of our volunteers asked him, what he would draw for the ‘Dreams of Chemmenchery’ painting competition. Unable to contain his curiosity, our volunteer further prodded, “So, what does a Prime Minister do?”
His answer, the insight and his style of speaking, amazed us, and soon all of us were flocking around him. Samson, also told us how he planned to major in political science and work on socially responsible activities as a student. One of us rightly remarked, “see he has already got his supporters”. He was right, none of us could ignore him or his dreams, his conviction and sincerity made sure that we all would connive our best to see this little person’s big dream would be catalyzed to reality.
Little Nadiya, all of 4 years had come to draw balls, and had brought big and small bangles too. She loves playing with them. She goes to her school regularly so that she can play with balls; she doesn’t have them at home.
Many younger kids were happy to draw houses, mountains, trees, crows, sun, streams, cars, balls, dolls, etc., but the elder kids were more creative than each of us who were explaining the theme to them. They wanted to be traffic police and obey the traffic rules, be nurses and doctors and save lives, wanted to have good schools, good pharmacies, good police stations, be teachers, police, administrators and so on.
AWARE has existed as a social media group for the last 3 years, and we have been working directly on issues faced by women and children, both in the urban, and semi-urban areas of Chennai. Chemmenchery has well-built urban slums, one-room houses, where families have been rehabilitated 25 km away from the fishing hamlet of Nochikuppam, post-tsunami. Traveling up and down to the fishing harbours of Nochikuppam, has made it very difficult for the families here. With meagre livelihood options, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, it is the young children who are affected the most. AWARE has been working here for the past one year and conducting Holistic Community Development Project in Chemmenchery through intervention programs on
- Early Years Programme – focusing on pre-school education
- Street Classes – on improving reading, writing and basic arithmetic skills (6-14 years)
- Conversational English Classes for Adult Women – supporting mothers to engage in their children’s studies
- Creating Child Friendly Spaces – providing avenues for child inclusive community development
We have been conducting weekly drawing competitions for the children (3-15 years) there, inspiring them to dream and paint their dreams. Each child is given a set of colours and stationery as a parting gift. We also, visit their homes, and provide them with a certificate of appreciation, signed by our volunteer teachers and the child’s parents, assuring the kids our support in helping them realise their dreams. WE have reached 100 students now, we have to reach 5000 students more.
As one of our volunteers said, “I have never received a certificate as a student, but today, when I presented the certificate signed by me, it was an extremely proud moment”. Such thoughts inspire AWARE to do more.
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