Amidst all the crime and corruption, which forms a major chunk of all that we read everyday, rare acts of goodwill and kindness often go unreported. This Navratri, let us celebrate the kind, the thoughtful, the hopeful, and the compassionate. Let us celebrate all the good happening in our neighbourhood.
1 Mela for the differently-abled
On October 5, the campus of CD Barfiwala School and Valia College in Andheri (W) was reverberating with the enthusiasm of a thousand students, who were busy painting, making flowers, drawing magnificent rangolis, and moulding clay. The precision with which they were performing their job was no less than that of experts.
What is remarkable, however, was that these children are differently-abled. Their shortcomings, however, did not deter them or dampen their spirits in any way; in fact, their creations radiated positivity. The ‘Ability’ Mela was organised by the Lions International District 32383, that covers 108 Lions Clubs between Bandra and Dahanu, along with the state social justice and empowerment department. Differently-abled students from different districts had participated.
“Fifty Lions Clubs joined hands to make this initiative successful. It was amazing to see the parents of these students, who joined them from far off places, encouraging the children,” said Darshana Kothari, district chairperson of Art and Craft, Lions Club.
Yashwant More, regional commissioner for social justice and empowerment for Mumbai division, said, “This was a great platform offered to students from the different districts to showcase their talent. Since the competitions were time bound, it will also help the students prepare for the regional Abilympics that are to be held in Ahmedabad in November.”
“Our school bagged 10-12 prizes. For the last five years, the mela was held at the Mumbai suburbs level. This is the first time it was held on such a large scale. So our students were very excited to be part of the event,” said Sadhna Sapre, principal of Utkarsh Mandal LSVJ
Mookhdhwani Vidyalaya, a school for the deaf and mute in Vile Parle (E). Shobha Shetty, principal of Punarvas, a school for the intellectually-challenged in Goregaon (W) agreed with Sapre. She believes the students are capable of doing so much more. “In this ‘Ability’ Mela, they got a good opportunity to display their skills, and also enjoyed the attention they received. It was the joy of winning that really mattered the most,” she said.
2 Students of Jasudben ML School teach municipal school students
As many as 20 student of the ISC section of Jasudben ML School have volunteered to teach spoken English to the primary section students of Khar Danda Municipal School from last week. The fact that these students are able to take time out after their school hours, despite having their board exams next year, is commendable.
The students chalked out a plan on how to go about it. Based on that the students will teach the municipal school students on a rotation basis, with each student devoting two days a week for the purpose.
“It is our way of paying back to the society. Teaching these kids gives us tremendous satisfaction. Through little efforts as these, we can help them move ahead,” said Yash Babani, a student volunteer. “We are really enjoying doing what we are doing. For once, it makes us realise how privileged we are in our lives,” said Puneet Ramani, another volunteer.
According to Dorris Saldanha, principal of Jasudben ML School, community work is part of the students’ curriculum. “Instead of going door-to-door to collect money, serving the community and imparting education to kids is a far better option. So, we decided to take it up,” said Saldanha.
Even though the student volunteers look tired after a gruelling day at school, their enthusiasm was high. “The fact that these students are so interested is very encouraging. They are very enthusiastic to learn the language and the audio-visual medium helps them to understand better,” said Jovin Serrao, another volunteer.
However, the student volunteers agree that the municipal school students are lagging way behind in their curriculum. Mohindru Mirchandani, a citizen volunteer, said, “The continued efforts of students and citizen volunteers will help improve their condition to a great extent. Sustainable efforts will yield results.”
“This is a great initiative with private schools adopting neighbourhood municipal schools by sending students as part of social service. Even teachers and headmasters should interact and help their counterparts in municipal schools in the process,” said Nitin Wadhwani, founder of the NGO, Citizens Association of Child Rights, which has been working on bettering the condition of municipal schools.
3 Special social work course for senior citizens empowers many
Five years ago, Charles D’sa opted for the short term specialised course for senior citizens.
Known as the Certificate Course in Social Work for Senior Citizens, it is taught at the College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan’s extension centre in Goregoan (E). Little did he realise then that it would be a life-changing experience for him.
Today D’sa, president of the alumni association of the senior citizens who did the course, strongly patronises it. “This course has guided us in several ways. I joined the course just before my retirement. It offered us knowledge on several things which matters in our day-to-day lives, such as banking and filing RTI, all in a single platform,” said D’sa, a Santacruz resident. Like D’sa, several senior citizens are happy to have taken up the course. The three-month course is conducted twice a year between February to May and September to December. The classes are conducted thrice a week, in the afternoons.
“The course was started on popular demand for a separate course for senior citizens. Since then, we have received an excellent response. We have a group of excellent retired professionals, and we learn a lot from them too,” said Dr Geeta Balakrishnan, principal of the centre.