‘MAD can DFC’ – Chandigarh

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Foreword

In the months of September and October, children and volunteers of Make A Difference, across India, participated in the global phenomenon that is Design For Change. DFC is a platform which encourages children to identify, find solutions and implement solutions to fix their own environments, thereby changing their own worlds.

Ever thought that a child cannot do something this momentous? Well, then you’re about to be proved wrong! Thousands upon thousands of children across the world (33 countries, this year) have participated in Design for Change, and by being the extraordinary talents they are, they’ve changed the world we live in, some way or the other!

At MAD, we were excited by the possibilities.  So were our volunteers, and so were our children. A bevy of projects were implemented up and down the country. We were awed, inspired, shocked at times by how aware our kids were about the issues surrounding them!

The children took to it so fast that some of us had trouble keeping up. (One particular group came up with 80 ideas for DFC!) In fact, there were so many that we decided to organise a small internal competition to celebrate the best of the best of the best!

Over the course of this week and the next, we’ll be bringing to you the stories of those who stood out from amongst the rest. These are MAD’s superheroes. The volunteers and children who inspire us day in, day out!

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By Abhishek Chamoli

There was a place near the orphanage where the people used to dump litter despite the presence of a large Municipal Corporation litter-bin there. The children had been observing this for quite some time and they decided to carry out a cleanliness drive in the neighborhood. The children decided to make a lot of posters to spread the word which would make people think twice before littering the place.

On the day of implementation the volunteers showed up with chart papers and colors and the children began drawing the posters that carried out loud the messages they wanted to give. Poster making was a lot of fun, all of us chipped in and a lot of photo sessions followed.

Initially we had planned to place boards over there but once we reached the place and saw for ourselves we realized that it would only end up adding to the litter. And as the main cause of litter was the people around the place who were throwing the garbage there, we decided to walk home to home and let them know how they could help us in our bid.

We carried out our march shouting slogans and holding up the posters high for everyone to see and we did manage to catch a fair bit of attention. The younger children in our batch were really really excited and we were glad to see their enthusiasm.

Not only they, the volunteers and core team representative were not scared to get their hands dirty and jumped in to help when the children were cleaning the place and this added to the enthusiasm of all. Overall, there were mixed reactions from the onlookers and passerby. Some looked at the children with admiration while others found it amusing. One passerby stopped to help us clean as well, which was very encouraging !!

After this was done with. We decided to walk from home to home and talk to people. The children weren’t very comfortable initially and the volunteers had to do guide them through it. Soon the children took charge and started talking to the people. And yes the effect increased manifold. :) Who wouldn’t listen to a 10 year old explaining the importance of cleanliness? Many people agreed that it was indeed a problem and some even promised that they would avoid littering the place.

An old lady was sweet enough to discuss all the reasons which she thought were creating the litter problem. Even after the group of children had left for the next house she continued to explain the volunteers the hows and whys of it.  After covering a lot of the houses we returned back to the hostels. The spirits were high, the excitement levels were higher than what we had started out with. We congratulated the kids and left. A job well done !!

We were initially apprehensive as to how the entire thing would go as the plan wasn’t as foolproof as we would have liked it. But the smiles and the springs in the steps after the cleanliness drive made things clear for us.

The idea, the execution perhaps could’ve been better but what matters most is the fact that the children did believe in themselves and they did realize that they could make a difference. The volunteers and children were all very proud of the fact that they did their bit in trying to make a change for the better.

We at MAD Chandigarh are pretty sure that our children will keep up the good work and will be back with better ideas and will design for change in the coming years as well.

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