A very MAD camp

Written by Anju Anna John

It all began on a bright Saturday morning. Bright, because of the joy and excitement that emanated from the faces of the girls from the various MAD centres, who were brought to the Choice School at an ungodly hour of half-past seven in the morning.

After a quick breakfast (that was aided more by the anticipation brewing within these young bodies, than the peristalsis that your biology teacher told you helped digestion) and a couple of ice-breakers later, the children sat through a session with a Navy officer who took her time out to talk to these young girls on the various job opportunities that women have in the Indian Navy.

The talk concluded with a juice break that ended around noontime.

However, before they could move on to the delectable lunch that was awaiting them, they sat down to make participation certificates for attending the camp (this gave a whole new definition to the word ‘personalised’!).

Following lunch, Laxmy Ma’am taught these tiny-tots how to make wallets out of cloth (It brought back to mind the hours I spent in school doing SUPW; the full form of which, I forget now).

Next was the more interesting activity that the kids had been awaiting for. The celebrity interaction segment of the camp saw Archana Kavi (the actress who turned into a household name after her debut in the Malayalam movie, Neelathamara) and Asif Ali (we are not talking about Zardari here, but an upcoming Malayali actor from the movie Rithu) interacting with the kids.

The girls kept singing ‘Anuraga Vilochananayi’ from Neelathamara. After tea, they wrote down their reflections on their first day of camp before wrapping things for the day.

The following day, they were again picked up, there was breakfast and another round of ice-breakers, after which, it was decided that they were ready for the talk on growing up by Dr Chandrika, a gynaecologist.

This was succeeded by a ‘Legal Awareness’ session by Adv. Sherry (although there is no shortage of law students amongst MAD volunteers).

After a short break there was a dance workshop by two of the volunteers (Susheela and Reshmi).

Subsequently, lunch was served. Then there was also a theatre workshop headed by Aditi and Sebastian.

Soon after, there was a Personality Development talk by Soli.

Nonetheless, what lit up the fatigued faces at the end of the two day camp was the talent show with Miss Kerala 2007 as its celebrity guest.

There were various repetitions of ‘Anuraga Vilochananayi’ and all the Mademoiselles just loved dancing to ‘joota hi sahi’. The winners were declared and as the judge rightly pointed out, everyone there had put up a good show and all of them were winners.

In the end Paul, one of the organisers of the whole camp came forward to give the vote of thanks. Group photographs were taken, in what can only be termed as a failed attempt at capturing the essence of all that had transpired; for even a thousand words could not do justice to all that happened in the lives of these young girls in the last two days.

On the bus-ride back with the girls from Holy Ghost and Valsalyabhavan, I chose to quietly sit and watch these lasses dancing to the tunes of the Hindi-songs from the 90s that I grew up listening to and wondering at how much I learned from these girls every single time!

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