Samitha Manoharan from Target shares her experience at the Dusshera Camp held at Karapanahalli.
It all started with an invite from Akshara “3-day Dussehra Camp for children in various villages in Hoskote”. That piqued my interest; especially as it came from one of Target’s partner NGOs.
I reached Hoskote bright and early on Oct 19th, and called Srinivas-the coordinator for Hoskotetaluk. He had very kindly volunteered to escort me to one of the villages where the camp was to be held. He handed over some chart paper and other camp paraphernalia in a large bag along with a big bunch of roses. I was mystified!!
The mystery was soon to be revealed. Travelling along some sylvan green fields, I soon discovered that roses were abundantly grown in Hoskote!! We reached the government school and were warmly welcomed by both the children and the other volunteers. Excitement pulsed in the air as the children, along with their parents, impatiently waited for what was in store for them. We soon had the village dignitaries kick off the program with a traditional lighting of the lamp and a soulfully rendered invocation by the school kids. There were inspiring speeches by the village dignitaries, Akshara representatives as well as the school Head Mistress.
The children were divided into groups and given names of famous Indian personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru etc. The day’s events included a game to list the maximum number of trees followed by creation of the village map by the different teams. The village nurse was also invited to give a talk on good nutrition and hygienic practices and the children listened with rapt attention. This was then followed by a highly competitive LEGO session where each team tried to outdo the other in terms of creativity as well as in the height of their creations. There were a lot of oohs and aahs along with groans of dismay when the creations crashed; but they were soon rebuilt to their towering proportions by the enthusiastic children. The day’s events were brought to an end with an energizing game of musical chairs.
Day two was kicked off by a drawing competition for the tiny tots whose creations soon began to adorn the school walls! This was followed by a closely fought quiz completion which also included brain teasers and mental math. The children sailed through this session and tie breakers were needed to be able to judge the best team!
After the grey cells had been exercised enough, it was time to settle down for some testing on language and math skills. The ASER test was administered to the school children by the volunteers who had previously been trained by Akshara. Post lunch, excitement again ran high. The children had caught sight of the many saplings that had been transported to their school all the way from Anekal. They were to be planted around the school that very evening! The school children were to be entrusted with the task of safeguarding the trees until they had had the chance to grow and flourish. The evening session, was dedicated to Shram Dan, where the volunteers went around the village talking to its occupants about the importance of keeping their surroundings clean. The volunteers were cleaning up the area as they talked, hence reinforcing the message.
All in all it was a wonderful experience of village life and a wonderful opportunity to interact with its most interesting occupants-its bright children!!
The Tree game, a Guest Lecture by the village nurse,Village Map, Lego, Musical Chair, Drawing, Quiz and brain teasers, ASER test, Tree planting and Shramdan-cleaning up the village were the highlights of this Dusshera Camp.