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 chidren who inspire us day in, day out!
This particular story of how the mentors of a handful of 9-year-olds were surprised at the enthusiasm shown for DFC. All the way from Mangalore, the children and volunteers of Baalika and their ‘Old is Gold’.
By Ranjani R S
“You must be the change you want to see in the world. ” – Mahatma Gandhi
When we heard the concept of Design for Change we were all very excited as we could give our kids a remarkable platorm to ‘be-the-change’ !!! As our kids were the youngest ones in the Ashram aged 9-10 years, we thought explaining this whole concept to them would be challenging. We started with telling them various DFC stories.
Our little hyperactive girl Aishwarya was listening to us wide-eyed and in awe. Then we asked about what she would want to change in her surroundings, she looked at us and said that there is an old grandma they see on the street everyday on their way to school and asked,”Teacher,can we do something to make the old grandma happy? Can we build her a house and give her some clothes? ”
I was stunned indeed! I did not expect these kids to come up with any answer. Even if they did, I thought, it would be something to do with them. I thought they’d ask for better school bags, pencil boxes or colors. They taught all of us a valuable lesson of ‘innocence’ and ‘selflessness’. I was touched.
The first step of DFC – ‘Feel’ – was achieved. With that we picked up momentum and under the leadership of our DFC Anchor Yvonne and the mentorship of Tanvi, Shruthi, Minora ,Rishwa and me – and of course our thoughtful 9-year-olds Aishwarya, Shreya, Pallavi, Ishwayra, Yashwitha, Madhura and Likitha ; so started the journey towards ‘Old is Gold’.
There was excitement in the air. It was week 2. Phase 2. ‘Imagine’ – Time for the second step of DFC. Then our kids got charged up and gave us a plethora of ideas. After a brainstorming session we decided our course of action. We were to find the ‘ajji’ first and see how we could help her.
“Teacher can we make some drawing and give it to ajji?”
“Teacher can we sing Hubaba song for other ajjis in the old age home?”
We had a couple of meetings conducted by our anchor Yvonne to plan the course of events for the 3rd week – Phase 3 ‘Do’ of DFC. Shruthi bunked classes and walked with the kids in the morning with the hope that they find the ajji. On speaking to her, we found that she is very happy with her life and would come to the streets just to look at kids and talk to them. The kids were happy.
Since they felt so strongly about the need to bring cheer in the lives of old people we decided to take them to the old age ward in KMC hospital. The kids enthusiastically began drawing and coloring the greeting cards they were making for the grandmas. Each kid wrote a personalized message on the cards they made. It was truly endearing to watch them make those cards with so much love.
Our volunteer Tanvi had got her car. Three volunteers and seven kids stuffed into the car (Desi style), and she drove us to the hospital.On reaching there, the kids were suddenly silent. They started singing their prayer song.
The grandmas one by one stopped and stared. Some started singing along, some just had tears n their eyes, some started smiling in surprise, some couldn’t hear the song and some couldn’t move their bodies.
It was something that I had never seen before and the feeling was something I have never felt before. The kids sang their rhymes and then went on to distribute the handmade cards. They spent time with the grandmas chatting, laughing, and telling them stories about their families. We were hugged, kissed, pampered and interrogated by the grandmas.
There were these 2 grandmas who couldn’t even move on their own. With the help of other grandmas and the nurse, they posed with us for a picture and took the cards from the kids.
The sight moved us. Then was their evening prayer time so the kids sang some prayer songs with them and we left after they blessed us.
The experience was enriching for the kids and us. I call it a ‘positive experience’ that makes you feel open, connected, warm, soft and glowing inside – “a heart-warmer”!!! Today, as I pen down this experience, ‘Old is Gold’ brings a wonderful feeling that starts with a small upward tug at the corners of my mouth; the smile spreads as a puff in my cheeks and a crinkly twinkle in my eyes; and fills my heart with a feeling of warmth and goodness.