October 2nd 2015.
This day permanently goes down in the Book of Make A Difference, Mysore.
Pejawar Ashram is a small shelter home residing in the quiet city of Mysore. It is an all-boyscentre sheltering children from Meghalaya. The children were brought down to Mysore by the Centre Authorities to fulfill their basic needs and to obtain an education to empower them to be productive and independent citizens of our country.
This was MAD’s first year at this shelter home and classes were kickstarted in the early days of September. The volunteers initially displayed mixed emotions of happiness and nervousness. Happiness to embrace the sweet Khasi and Jaintia boys from Meghalaya, and nervousness because of the fear of being unaccepted owing to barriers like difference in language and culture.
Unfortunately, our fears got the better of the situation. With close to 3 weeks of classes and 2 discover sessions, we were still not entirely accepted by the children. We were constantly zoned out by them. They used to communicate with each other in their colloquial language, Khasi. They didn’t quite understand why we were there, and they didn’t appreciate our presence either. To them, we were just another set of volunteers trying to show case our pity and leave.
It was then that Archery Session happened. One of our volunteers was a part of an adventures group IAMAS , and coincidentally, his birthday was coming up. The gift he demanded from the founder was an Archery session for the children. 19 of our kids who were under the discover project were then taken to Gokulum, one of the not-so-quiet parts of Mysore. The session started off kids being enlightened and instructed about the origin and use of archery and its importance in the Olympics. The technique of holding a bow, loading the arrow, taking the stance and shooting it at the target was demonstrated by the experts. The children were given hands-on experience with the bow and trained to shoot the arrow precisely at the target in a 2- hour session. The kids enjoyed shooting at the target and had an educative yet fun-filled and experience-rich session. The kids enjoyed shooting at the target and had a fun-filled and experience-rich session learning the art of shooting an arrow. The training session ended with a friendly archery competition among the kids followed by a few physical training games.
The mentors guided the kids at every step. They encouraged and cheered for them during the competition. The children then started speaking up, they sat with the mentors, ate with them, spoke to them.
It’s been three weeks now. The boys started working on their English to communicate with their mentors. An MAD alumni volunteer is from Meghalaya and has been teaching us a little khasi now and then. All in all, we manage our sessions with broken English, broken khasi and a lot of love. The archery session was a pre-session to Setting Goals and targets, and needless to say, this session too was a grand success. The boys now look forward to their sessions.
And the barrier of unacceptance ? ALL GONE.
Kahlil Gibran once said, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
In accordance to what he said, we are indeed one step closer at releasing our lively children, just like the arrows, to meet their target.