And… I fell MADly in love!

Walking into the building of the Chinmaya School, I was struck by the silence. When I looked, I saw a group of boys surrounding this lady who was talking to them in Malayalam. It was a magical sight to see these boys sitting quietly and hanging on to each word the lady was saying. It was only later that I found out that these were only the lads from Darul Uloom; and that the boys from Udaya Colony and Bal Bhavan were yet to join us.

However, the kids from these two centres didn’t keep us waiting for long. They arrived and filled the venue with the reverberating voice and life that the boys from Udaya-colony and Balbhavan embody. Their arrival set the whole camp started!

No MAD camp begins without the ice-breakers. The boys played a game to figure out who was under which volunteer, but all I could tell was that one moment all the boys were running, the next moment eight of them were standing around me! Thus, our team was formed.

An otherwise mellow person, I couldn’t help but get excited for the boys in my team; I jumped, I high-five-ed; and for those few minutes I was back in Neverland ~ still young, still full of life!

After the ice-breakers the kids had a session on Health and Adolescence by one of our Volunteers (Antony Sebastian). Amongst all the questions raised at the end, Faiz’s question was the one question that really touched a chord in my heart; he asked why he hasn’t had his growth spurt.

My reaction would have something to do with the fact that he had earlier come up to me and complained about his height by saying, ‘…I don’t have a mum to give me Horlicks, will you?’

Faiz won a little more of my heart when he unthinkingly took out one of his 3 rings and gave it to Shehnaz (the Cochin1 President) when the rest of us were content in merely singing her a ‘Happy Birthday’. The lads then went around with cameras taking turns to click pictures of everything from the place, their friends and the chechis and chetas. Soon after, Shehnaz cut the cake.

We had lunch later, and my boys gladly complied when I requested them to stand as a group behind the rest of the boys and later, to sit as a group when they had their meal.

Following lunch, Antony played his guitar and volunteers like Shaakir sang along when he played ‘when you say nothing at all’. The restive boys were later led to the ground where they played Football for the rest of the day at the camp.

The next day saw the newly recruited Cochin 1 Volunteers coming in for their process training early on a Sunday morning. Once they were done with the process training, many of these volunteers stayed back to help us with the camp.

Once the quick session of ice-breakers was over, the lady from the first day started talking to the kids about Art of Living, which from what I gathered had a lot to do with breathing activities in order to remain happy in life. Watching these kids’ interest made me feel quite embarrassed about my own apathy towards yoga and the likes.

Soon, it was time for lunch. Lunch was followed by the review of the photos that the kids clicked the day before. Our volunteer Rifaz ran through these pictures and gave feedbacks on the photos even as he divulged some trade secrets in the process!

The finale of this camp couldn’t have happened without the help of the DJs that MAD had employed exclusively for this purpose. As all the other volunteers would tell you, everyone else at the camp danced to the music brought to them by DJ Paul and DJ Sumesh who were both novices in this business.

Anyway, suffice to say that all the volunteers and kids were pretty drained by the time the camp concluded although they seemed to have found a new found love for life and MAD! And, I left the place with the memories of a little boy who I hope would grow to be taller than me one day!

Anju Anna John

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