I have been teaching at St. Mary’s ever since I joined MAD.I noticed that the girls, though interested in the subject, were not motivated enough to realize that English language would give them that edge, and would really help them. A majority of them could study up till the 10th; but only if they got a distinction in their board exam would they be permitted to study further. Most of the girls we taught believed that they could not secure the marks and would go back to their broken homes. I strongly felt that they needed to be motivated and wanted them to know that they could change their future. I had witnessed the Palluruthy camp and I knew a camp would really help my kids too.
My sister and I got down to thinking and a schedule was prepared systematically with the help of Jithin & Varkey.
The guests we invited were Mrs. Sreelekha who told the kids her whole experience as an IPS officer, how, despite her unfortunate circumstances; she wasn’t scared to dream big. Afsal, the playback singer, was perhaps one of the most popular guests. He just sang his way into the hearts of all the girls. Cuckoo Parameshwaran talked to the girls about her experience as a theatre artist and how she lived life on her own terms. Perhaps one of the most inspiring talks was that of Chinamma chichi, who is an auto driver. She left the volunteers as well the girls awestruck with her story of hardships she had endured and of how eventually she had battled against each and every one of them. Every day the girls had classes for enhancing their creative skills too. The last day ended with a complete makeover session and a brand new dress for every girl courtesy My Kingdom.
The camp started off with flying colours and went on smoothly only because I had the complete support of my volunteers; as well as Jithin, Varkey, Hijaz, Nikhil and many others.
It was really encouraging to see the way the kids turned out on the last day; they were completely changed. The girls enjoyed the camp so much that they were raving about it even when we went back to take classes. Today I can see a lot of change in their attitude while attending the classes and this change has brought me immense satisfaction.
St. Mary’s has been a major part of my life for the past two years. So, trust me when I say I know the girls there. They are a very active bunch that easily understands the concept of discipline. The first thing I noticed in them was the amount of talent that filled each class. What concerned me was how some of them held those talents back when asked to present them before a crowd. Many of them were afraid to be loud and others were so shy to even speak!
When I went there on the first day of the camp in the morning, I saw the same faces, the same expression, and the same attitude to life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there throughout the camp. I turned up on the last day, and, boy, did I see a difference. All the soft-spoken ones ran the drama! The miserably shy ones were acting!
It was awesome to see their bright smiles. I know it sounds melodramatic to say there was a twinkle in their eyes. But I believe that difference is there in your smile, when you are happy and proud to be who you are. I saw a bunch of kids that believed in themselves more than they ever did.
I took a few classes after the camp and I got better responses. They had a different approach towards life. I know this might sound like a tall claim so I’ll cite 2 changes I saw.
Smitha: – She mingles easily. She is very interactive in class. Somehow end of the day she used to sulk over her family issues and would secretly narrate them. I met her on the last day and she kept telling me about all her blessings in life. It was awesome to see that change in perspective.
Maria: – She’s very loving, talkative, attentive, and smart. But almost every class she would back away from the games and activities. She would know the answer to every question but uttered something only when no one would be listening. Now she loves to answer first and enjoys all the games and activities. It’s like she stepped out of her bubble!
So, I thank all those volunteers who watched over our kids and helped them through those days. You really did make a difference!
– Elma Bartholomew
When I joined MAD I had my mindset fixed and had already imagined how things would be. The St. Mary’s camp altered my perception and opened the door to reality. The smiles on the kids faces and warm wishes from them, just made me feel like I was always there. The activities that varied from candle making to painting not only helped the kids but also were an enjoyable experience for the volunteers present. The interactive section, done by well known personalities such as Sreelekha IPS, Afsal the playback singer, made everyone realize that happiness is not something that comes easily and that one has to work hard to achieve it.
I stepped into the St Mary’s camp knowing no one from MAD. But towards the end of the 4 days, I realized the bonds that I had established would be something that I would always cherish!! To sum up, I would say: I felt as if I was the one who attended the camp!
As a new entrant, the 4 day camp was my first step into the world of MAD. But never once did I feel out of place, for right from day one everybody had been busy with some odd job or the other. Working with the kids was one of a kind experience since it was my first time. The session proved to be an eye opener for me in more ways than one. In the process, I got to know a lot of other fellow volunteers and members. The last day was the best part of the whole camp because everyone had bonded with each other. I think being a newbie, the camp was the best way of starting out because it broke the ice between my fellow volunteers and me, thereby, forming the basis of a good working relationship for the days that followed. In short the camp was a great experience! One that I’ll always cherish.