Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Toybank Delhi Update - August 2016

A short summary of all the activities that have happened in Delhi since April this year.
 We have had 5 rounds of toy sorting, wherein we cleaned and packed more than 400 toys and games that have reached more than 350 children over the last few months. These have been used for:
1 - A toy library for 100+ kids in Mangar Primary school -  Classes 1 to 4th. Play session with class 5th is still pending.
2- A toy library for the kids at Deepalya, Sheikh Sarai (serving 80 plus kids every week)

3- 7 cartons sent for 3-4 creches in Tilonia, Rajasthan. Pics shared by Barefoot volunteers. Our target is to reach 33 creches by year end.
4 - A play session at an NGO run centre in Gurgaon, managed by a group of MDI students. 
5- A library at Shiksha trust, Gurgaon. The centre has more than 100 students. And we need to send more toys/games to them soon.

Toybankers have had a great time setting up and playing games with the kids at these centres. A special thanks to volunteers from JCL for all their time and effort in these libraries. We even distributed a good amount of stationery items this time. Thanks to Shyamak Das who collected, Saurabh Matha who sorted & stored, and Suneet (our dedicated volunteer from Vasant Kunj), who finally took the responsibility to distribute. Lastly thank you to all the volunteers, who contributed in collections.

We have been able to sort and use almost all the toy collections till now. Need much more in the coming weeks. Please do volunteer for collections if you can. 
Celebrating the 70th year of Independence by sharing joy :)

The Toybank Team

Monday, August 29, 2016

My Indian Experience - Write up by our young Toybank Intern Sarthak Dalal


My Indian Experience

I am a Toybank volunteer who lives in the United States. I just finished my freshman year in high school. My relatives live in India and my family visits them every couple years. This summer was one of those years. I had very little idea of what India would be like, as I hadn’t visited India in a long time. Back in the Unites States, I had a job that I loved. I was an after school teacher at one of the local elementary schools. My job was to play and interact with kids, teach and help them with homework. I had to supervise the kids to make sure they didn’t do anything wrong or bad, and to correct them if they did. The job was fun because I think it is very important for all children to get an opportunity to build happy lives. I always wanted to help more children though. There are millions of children who are underprivileged in the world. So I thought of using my summer vacation to find something to do where I can further my cause and in turn help the community. This is when I found Toybank. It had a great message: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. I took a look at their website and it said that they help 38000 children lead better lives. I was impressed and decided to sign up as a volunteer for Toybank.

 So, here I was in Mumbai, India to spend my summer months with under privileged children. I had many amazing experiences while volunteering with Toybank but there were three that really stood out to me. One of them was my meeting with the Toybank CEO Shweta Chari. On my drive to the Toybank headquarters, I was nervous, I didn’t know what the experience would be like to meet a CEO. I had never met or interacted with a CEO of a company before. I expected the CEO to be a very serious and strict person. Instead, she was the absolute opposite. She was nice and friendly, which helped to ease my anxiety a lot. At the meeting, she explained to me and my parents with an elaborate presentation what Toybank was all about. She also talked about the kids helped by Toybank, the different volunteer opportunities for me, etc. I was impressed by her humble nature. I made a mental note that great leaders / CEOs are so humble even after they have achieved so much in their lives. I participated in several play sessions with underprivileged kids as a volunteer for Toybank. But, my first one was the most special, the play session with the kids who live in the slums of Mumbai. My expectation was that the place would be really bad. And I was correct, the slums were awful, I couldn’t believe these kids would be living in such conditions for most of their lives. The roads were cramped and cluttered, the homes falling apart, the whole place reeking of a terrible smell. I felt really bad for all the children that had to suffer through all this every day. Sadly, the kids didn’t even have a proper play area, as it was demolished by the rains. So, we decided to do our play session in the local temple. The children were all very happy to even get to play. They were all screaming and jumping with joy. I was so shocked to see all these kids enjoying the play even in conditions like this. I didn’t expect any of this. I really enjoyed that play session because it showed me that you don’t have to be rich to have fun. I was impressed. The thing I took from this experience was that it’s up to us to play and have fun in life without getting impacted by the environment around us. These children had no expensive toys, no air conditioned play area, no iphones, ipads, etc. but they were having loads of fun and were HAPPY. Back in the US, I have seen children having everything they can ask for but still are unhappy, sad and complaining a lot. To get a deeper and broader understanding of how difficult it is to run an NGO, I worked in the back office of Toybank. I did the inventory, sorting and checking toys and games in Toybank’s “sorting center”. The experience was very unique. My expectation at first was that this type of volunteering would be easier than the play sessions, but that myth was quickly shattered when I learned that inventory sorting had its own unique challenges. The volunteers who work in this inventory have one of the most important roles. They have to check and make sure that all toys are working and proper, discarding broken toys. This is a very tedious job but also very important. If the children don’t get working toys to play with, it might not go well for the children. Along with this, they have to sort the toys into different categories such as strategy, general, etc. I realized that to organize the play sessions with kids, there are many people working behind the curtain. I realized that there is generally more to running an NGO than what meets the eye.

 Anytime someone travels to a foreign country they are bound to face challenges, that’s just the nature of the world. Sometimes, the challenges are small, but sometimes they take lots of hard work and adapting to overcome. The challenges that I faced in India were tough, but they made me a much better person, and taught me that ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances is a very important life skill. For example, living in the United States, I didn’t know much Hindi at all. I could speak short phrases but that was about it. So, it was a challenge to communicate with the Toybank volunteers and the underprivileged children. Throughout my stay in India I learned more phrases and words in Hindi, so I could have a basic conversation with almost anyone there. I also grew accustomed to speaking “Hinglish” a mixture of Hindi and English to fully communicate with the volunteers and children. In addition to the language, the overall culture in India was a major shock to me. India is a nation that thrives on chaos. For instance, nobody really follows the traffic rules in India. Anywhere you go there are people driving on a red signal, not following lanes, etc.  The first few days I was shocked by this and I was frightened. I thought that if people are not following rules, many accidents will happen. But somehow in all this chaos things just worked fine. It felt like there was order in chaos and things always worked out. Over time, I realized that there was nothing to worry. The people in India are very alert and somehow avoid accidents. This environment makes Indians prepared to face any situation. Actually, I started to respect that quality in all Indians. Another example of a challenge is the amount of pollution in India. There are various types, noise pollution, water pollution, air pollution etc. I was so scared that I did not want to leave the apartment. But, I noticed that the millions of other people living in the city were not falling sick, or bothered from any of the pollution. This is when I realized that if it isn’t bothering them, why should it bother me. I learnt to adjust to the new environment.

Throughout my stay in India, I learned many life lessons. I developed a broad perspective and it’s always good to get global exposure. Most people from developed countries never visit developing countries in their lives, because they feel that it is unnecessary. Therefore, I am one of the few westerners who has seen both sides of the world. I feel like I now have appreciation for things which I used to take for granted.  We have to be grateful for what we have and always be happy because there are people in this world who struggle for basic necessities of life. This trip to India has taught me to be more thankful and humble in life to god, men and women of all backgrounds. At last, Indians have me taught to always persevere and never give up. A lot of Indians face setbacks in their life just because of the country and environment they are in. Yet, they don’t give up, and they still strive for their major life goals even after setbacks. From the kids who live in the slums, to the CEO of Toybank, to my own relatives. I have never seen anything like this to this degree anywhere else on the planet. In conclusion, India has really changed the way I look at things and has taught me many valuable ideas and life lessons.
Sarthak Dalal
August 15, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

HEARDS members would really want to thank Toy Bank for donating toys towards HEARDS Child labor rehabilitation centers.  We started to utilize the toys donated by you which really found to be so interesting.  As per my observation I have found that toys and games not only amuse children, but also stir their imagination, stimulate creative instinct and spontaneous thinking. They also sharpen the child’s reasoning enlarge his/ her vision, encourage free flow of thoughts, improve observation power and concentration. Some toys and games test speed and perception. Some others teach discipline, honesty, truth, courage, etc .and develop the spirit of co-operative competitiveness. I found after utilizing these toys an interesting fact as long as the human society realizes this basic truth, it will remain incomplete. HEARDS will certainly intend fillings this void.
HEARDS will certainly realize its importance because all these days we were teaching non-formal and formal education through easy based learning methodologies but now we started to realize that we need to include toys are one of the most effective teaching aid.  I also realized that our children at our rehabilitation centers feel that the toys and games will stimulate the child’s perception and imagination, encourage their mental development and this process will create the process of learning with more greater fun.

Our organization believes that today’s children are tomorrow’s pillars of strength, and hence anything done for them is never adequate enough. This is an innovative step towards rehabilitation of child laborers which were not taken as a component since decades of working on child labor rehabilitation.  Certainly the toys will be utilized in a more efficient way in the future and come out with more objectives.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Toybank partnership with Family Service Center


The toys were very well received by the kids and he seemed to have lit a spark of excitement in them which was immeasurable. The kids applauded loudly as the toy distribution began as the kids gazed with wonder and the happiness could be seen in their gleaming eyes.  We spread joys on 70 kids across Uttan with the help of Family service center. FSC is a non- profit, secular and unbiased organization, which assist women and children in difficult situations

Toybank partnership with Bal Jeevan Trust

Children are like little seeds, which blossom over the ages. A seed requires water and soil, while children require toys so to fulfill that Toybank have set up a toy Library in Santacruz to provide an environment and manure for the kids which have yielded to 95 kids being provided it. Bal Jeevan Motto is better the lives of Mumbai’s rag picking children, the not-for-profit Bal Jeevan Trust works relentlessly to improve their nutrition, education, health, and general self worth which these children have lost.

Toybank partnership with Aangan Trust

We spread smiles on 300 kids on dated 16th September 2015, who have been exposed to different scenarios at very young ages like 9-10 years.This is the shaping years of the children at Aangan Trust an NGO at Reay Road.

Reay road a place where the underbelly of Mumbai resides and is the most vulnerable to crime scenes.This is the place where we got a chance to spread the smiles on 300 kids.The innocent faces blossomed with smiles when toys were handed to them. Like a little tree with saplings we wish to see them bloom and blossom like flowers.

Toybank partnership with CORP

We have spread towards the North of Mumbai by spreading Smiles on innocent faces of 98 kids at CORP in Virar on 22nd July 2015.Our volunteers worked hard to help the children in the organization understand and play the game with ease.The 98 children’s remorse and saddened vanished away within seconds and their tiny hands were filled with mystery packets,which they were eager to open. We also opened Toy Libraries on dated 21st May 2015 at Thane and Ambernath,where we can see the children blossom like flowers with the help of toys.

Spreading smiles on 2300 kids

9/9/15 what a day!! 2300 smiles and 12 centers opened

Toys are our childhood treasures. We played with them,learned with them even lived with them. Rich toys make the childhood memories colorful. There are kids out there who are deprived of this basic privilege. Shouldn’t we help them out? Yes, we started our day in that note and participated and Set up a new Library at Gandhi Bal Mandir School, Kurla .We spread smiles on 1450 kids and showed them ways to play new games and played with them.

We also set up 2 new libraries at Bandra with the help of YMCA where jubilation was spread to 300 kids with the help of 6 centers.We had massive teachers training – call “Power of Play workshop” for 23 teachers from three partnering NGO’s named YMCA,Ashadeep Association and YUVA.

We spread joy to 550 kids with the help of 3 centers in Cosmos school,Borivali.These kids are from very poor socio-economic condition.Toybank is happy to give them,their right to play.

Snehasadan - Toy Library set up

This time we have partnered with Snehasadan and spread joys and jubilation to 60 kids in 3 centers across Jogeshwari and Borivali on dated 21st August 2015. Our Volunteers are having regular play session with children. This helps them to learn different games and stressed out from the problematic situation.Snehasadan is a non-governmental organization that provides a Home and a future for homeless street children in Mumbai, India. These homes have given them a chance to escape life on the streets, gain access to shelter, education and a future, and above all find a home and a family where before there was none. 

Toy Libraries for Special Children
As the name suggests we have given toys to 26 children at Bhayender on dated 31st July 2015. The kids have received a set of toys which has left a deep smile on the faces of the special children. Our Volunteers taught the children different games and played with them. Ashray Akruti foundation is a special school for the differently able children, who are not exposed to different genre of gaming like Board games or puzzles.

Gharkul Trust also operates on similar grounds and we have got a chance to spread joy and merriment on the faces of 45 children across Santacruz by setting up 1 Toy Library.  We set up a toy library at Gharkul Trust in the month of June 2015.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Elation at Bhau Saheb Kadam School

What is better than rain poring outside and tiny innocent kids playing? So for that we too have setup our new center on dated 28th July 2015 at Bhau Saheb Kadam School, Tardeo and spread up joys and smiles on 305 kids on 1 center across Tardeo. During the setup we also conducted toy library functions and taught the children to play different varieties of board games.

Felicity in Trombay, Mankhurd

This time we have partnered with ADM (Abhinav Dhyan Mandir) on 21st October 2015 and spread euphoria to more than 350 kids. We set up 3 new centers with different games like Board Games, Outdoor games or Puzzles. Monopoly attracted a lot of attention in this center. Our Volunteers interacted and realized the hardships faced by kids in life.

Spreading smiles on 485 kids

Andheri our new Toy Library Hub!!!

This time we have partnered with MUMBAI SMILES and spread joys and merriment to many kids. We have set up 10 sectors in the month of September and 6 in the month of October. Our Volunteers worked hard to help the children in the organization understand and play the game with ease.

Way to spread jubilation in Kids life

This time we spread our message to the kids in Shindewadi Municipal School in Dadar. We have given  a everlasting smile to about 30 kids and showing them that people care for them .We also have trained new teachers to  help the kids understanding the games and showing them how to play  games  and helps  connecting with them and understanding their hard life.

Power Women

We have set up a new Toy Library at Women’s India trust, Panvel on dated 28th October 2015. WIT mobilizes the under privileged and turning the unskilled women to skilled workers which is especially for the women. This time we have melted away all the burden and hardships faced by their children. We have decided to recreate their childhood and we wish to see their smiles on their faces by our toy libraries. 

The Joys of Smiles on Children’s Faces

This time on 28th October 2015, we have spread across the Mumbai suburban area in collaboration with Humara Bachpan a Non Profit Organization. We have given 275 children their lost childhood, happiness and joy. When we visited the centers, we were greeted by a packed audience and energy filled children who were looking at us eagerly. When the children received the toys one long and everlasting smile filled their innocent faces.

Spreading of Joy and Merriment continues
The festive season is here and we too have setup our new center in YWCA. This time we have spread joy on 60 kids across 2 centers spread across Mira Road and Chembur on dated 28th October 2015. The kids have received a set of toys which has left a deep smile on their faces. These children have received toys to help them bring back their lost childhood. During the setup we also conducted training with center teachers on toy library functions.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Cracked a BIG DEAL! 3096 smiles in 2 days :)

Toybank reaches to one of the most vulnerable section in Ahmednagar by setting 16 toy libraries covering 3096 children in the month of September.
These kids are from Snehalaya – an organization who is working hard to get them out of the negative environment. Our toy libraries will be part of Snehalaya’s Balbhavans – a project working towards the education and health of the kids.  

Toybank team conducted two days workshop on Power of Play for 35 teachers of Snehalaya. Our training focused on the importance of play in every child’s life and how it plays a big role in their overall development.

Within the two days we demonstrated each and every game to the teachers and also conducted play session at one of their center. We now wait to go back and visit them soon….Only to see them play! 

Miles to go!

Toybank started its work in Wada few years ago with the set up 4 toy libraries in government school. And now we stand at 18 toy libraries!
There are so many children out there who are still in need of PLAY!
When we step into the rural schools we hardly find any play materials for the kids. All they know are some outdoor games like kho- kho, kabaadi and hide & seek. To our surprise even a game like snakes and ladder is alien to these kids.

Looking at the current scenario, we have expanded our work in more 6 government schools in Wada, through which we will be providing access to 751 kids.

We have just started, still miles to go!

Time to go back!

Two years back we had set up 12 toy libraries for the kids of Wada in Palghar district. These toy libraries are providing access to play to 3209 kids.  In the last month Toybank team has replenished new set of games & toys for these kids.

When we started these toy libraries, the kids were hardly exposed to different types of play.This time when we entered the schools they were thrilled to see some new games in their toy libraries and we also got a chance to play some games with them. They love to play with cone – catch (an outdoor games played in groups) and enjoy making houses out of the block games.

We were happy to listen from the teachers that the kids enjoy playing with the board games and the outdoor games provided to them. The kids now look forward to come to the school; because what they get there is PLAY!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

DATE: 15TH August, 2015, Saturday.

After weeks of preparations and a lot of anticipation, the day that marked the 68th year of independent India, 15th of August finally arrived. It was a day of great joy for the Toybank team as well as the children of Shree Geeta Vidyalaya, Govandi. Many boxes of toys wrapped as gifts were brought in and 65 happy and excited volunteers entered the school that morning with just one aim in mind – to have a beautiful time with the children and share a toy with each one. This mega toy distribution is an event religiously conducted by Toybank every year from the past 10 years, and each year Toybank selects one school from some of the vulnerable places in the society and does its part in making the children a little happy on a very special day. The volunteers and the interns, guided by the team members attended the flag hoisting ceremony and the small performances by the children, while carrying out the process of placing boxes filled with toys in each classroom, encouraging the children to truly enjoy themselves freely and constructively through creative and competitive indoor games. These play sessions went on for almost two hours by which time all the children were waiting with excitement to receive their gifts from the boxes. This is when the clown arrived in the class and very uniquely, through the use of humor, taught the children a few important life lessons which had to sink in the minds and hearts of every child present. Finally, when the toy distribution started, all children were called one by one and asked their ambition and aspiration in life, for which few of them came up with very unique and impressive answers. They were each given one modestly wrapped gift after which they proceeded home. The event ended with Mrs. Shweta Chari addressing her gratitude and excitement for all the contributions and participation by everyone that made this event such a success.