Monday, September 16, 2013

'Payasam' for the soul

I am pleased to share with you NalandaWay's story of the month.
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'Payasam' for the soul

Dear friend,

Recently, a colleague and I were on our way to a Government school in the northern fringes of Chennai. The neighborhood was infamous for gangsters and violence. It was two in the afternoon, but a wine shop at the entrance of the street leading to the school was bustling with business. As soon as we got inside the school, we were greeted with a thick smell of urine.

Twenty five children from this school had attended our 4 day residential art camp, ‘Kanavu Pattarai’ a month earlier. A ‘workshop of dreams’ in TamilKanavu Pattarai helps children rekindle their sense of wonderment, inquisitiveness, curiosity and awe. The programme is a four day residential camp organized for disadvantaged children between the ages of 13-18. Students are trained by our facilitators in a variety of applied theatre forms like advanced role-play, improvisation, creative games and exercises, and storytelling.

We wanted to meet the kids, their parents and teachers to understand if our camp had made any difference. After an hour of conversations with children and teachers, we did feel slightly reassured that our efforts had not gone in vain.

It was time to meet the parents and only two mothers had turned up. My colleague inquired if they saw any changes in their kids’ behaviour. One of the mothers remained silent but nodded along to all the questions while the other lady was talkative and open about her observations. The chatty lady looked prosperous compared to the quiet person. But the latter finally opened up.

“Ours is a very poor family,” she said.

“My husband and son do not work and I sell vegetables on the street to earn money. I have never been to a school, but my daughter is very smart and beautiful. I have always wanted the best for my kids, but with the money that I bring home, I can hardly make them rice once a day.”

“But that day she came running to me after the camp. She looked so excited and happy. She announced that she had eaten payasam, ice cream, biriyani, potato roast, cream biscuits and so much more at the camp,” and the lady started crying.

We let her cry. Her tears had more answers than what we wished for.

Food and refreshments constitute a major portion of the costs that are required to run these camps. Why don’t you make a small contribution to make this camp an experience that these children would remember for a lifetime?

So long,

Sriram V Ayer
Founder & CEO
Donate here  - NalandaWay's Kanavu Pattarai
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