Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Happy Children's Day

Toybank wishes you all a very Happy Children's Day... This one is for all the kids and every grown up who is doing something to make a difference to their lives. This is for all of us!

We love their prattle
Their cute hands with rattle
We love the way they gurgle
Their warm cuddle and snuggle

The tapping of feet when they run
Their peals of laughter and their squeal
When they're tickled
Their kiddy rhymes
Their angelic smiles
And devilish pranks
Their drawings
Their fancy dress

Run with them
Pamper them
Spoil them
Watch cartoons
Play catch and cook
Make them happy
See their eyes gleam
Let them know how special they are
It is their day, today and everyday!

Dhaval Roy
Toybank Team - Giving back the Right to a Childhood

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lights, sweets, action!

Diwali is all about lights, sweets and crackers. And when you get to spend it with kids who are as bright, sweet and are bursting with energy as the ones at Anand Kendra, trust me, it’s the best Diwali ever! Firstly, our distribution on the 20th of October (our 15th one) was very impromptu, just decided in the afternoon and there we were in the evening. So we couldn’t call many people.

Anyway, so we reached Anand Kendra (right next to Atria Mall, Worli) and there they were, about 50 kids sitting on the benches waiting for us, some shy, some forward, but basically all friendly. First things first, we introduced ourselves and got a loud Happy Diwali wishes. We got to know all the kids’ names, age and what class they were in. Then they introduced us to their special friend, Basanti, a cute li’l kitten who found a cozy place in some boy’s arms or the other. Oh, by the way, Basanti is quite a rockstar, and according to the kids she teaches them ganit (Maths). Can you beat kids’ imagination? That’s rhetoric. We knew better than arguing too, anything that makes them happy.

All the kids there go to school and believe you me, they are bright! Since the occasion was Diwali, the kids knew what one does during Diwali – you burst cracker, eat sweets and light diyas (as one of them said, 'Diwali mein phatake aate hain, but they didn’t know why one does that. So, we decided to let them know the real reason. Thanks a lot, Shishir, you did a great job! Our good friend Shishir took the reigns in his hands and though he started narrating the story, he made it much more interactive by asking kids questions, after which, three of the kids narrated the entire Ramayan! They began with ‘Ramji Vishnu bhagwan ke aathve avatar thhe.’ Now, I didn’t know that! Told you the kids are bright. The story found mention of every important detail and character, be is Kaikeyi, Manthra, Surpanakha, Jatayu or Kumbhkaran, who the kids found most fascinating because he could eat and sleep nonstop for six months!

Ok, here is the best part of the narration. When a kid reached the Ram and Ravan yudh in the end part, he said, ‘Pehle Ram bhagvan Ravan ko boley, sorry bol de toh tujhe nahin marunga…. Ram bhagvan ne Gandhigiri ki. Lekin Ravan ne nahi suna to Ram bhagvan ne usey maar diya.’

After the narration, the volunteers (thanks a ton Kritika, Pooja, Neerav and Kashyap) distributed sweets and gifted the kids beautiful diyas to make their Diwali sweeter and brighter. The fun was far from over for every one of us. The kids recited poems, sang songs, danced and even presented a funny skit for us and themselves! What’s more, they didn’t even need a music system to dance. Every kid sang in unison any song that the dancer asked for, who often pulled his friends to accompany him. We had prospective creative professionals among us, other than the regular doctors and pilots. There was a potential writer, a playwright, a singer, a dancer, etc.

After getting their toys, the kids got busy with playing and even exchanged them with each other without making a fuss about it. They couldn’t care about the fact that they weren’t outside bursting crackers, they seemed happy just the same. It’s really not every year that you get to celebrate Diwali in such a special way. It was really one HAPPY Diwali!

Dhaval Roy
Toybank Team - Giving back the Right to a Childhood

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Of Saints, Sinners and Narakasuras

Dear All,

Let the Diwali kill all the EGO 'narakasuras' in all of us.
Let us remember the very old saying every saint has a past and every sinner a future.
Let true secularism rule our nation and more and more Gandhigiri succeed.

By the way Happy Diwali!
Lets have more light than sound!

Best Regards,
Toybank Team - Giving back the Right to a Childhood

Friday, October 13, 2006

Love of the common people

Now that I have thrown my well-paying job out of the window, I am discovering a lot of delights that I hadn't. For one, commuting in the second class compartment of a train. People here are so much more interesting, unassuming and real. Ya, they do have their quirks of quarreling for no rhyme or reason and striking a conversation about the most arbitrary things in the world, like a particular hairband a vendor is selling. But, it's actually a lotta fun to indulge in such conversations! Or at least better than interacting with the snooty women in a 1st class compartment who think they are Cleopatra reincarnate!

I have witnessed a woman asking a poor kid to get off a moving train because he got into a first class compartment. I have seen women yelling at someone hanging out of the train, for he/she risks meeting with an accident. But, no, not coz the women are concerned but because they don't want the train to stop if someone falls! I have seen women condescendingly ask other not-so-well-turned out women if they have a first class pass. Oh, yes, sunshine, the TC is on leave and you are a proxy!

First class (compartment) women are not tolerant about anyone entering even if the compartment is empty. But, they'd rather not argue with a eunuch and only give them glares and seethe with rage. In a second class compartment, a lady actually took the eunuch's number and wanted to call her to give her blessings at a religious function. The eunuch left, but not before touching the lady's head. When she passed by me, she saw me and smiled. I, of course, smiled back. And she touched my head too. And I thought they do that only when you give them money.

Ever seen a woman sleeping in a second class compartment and being woken up rather mercilessly by others who want to sit? But, if there is a vendor's 2-yr old baby sleeping, women, even the older ones, wouldn't mind standing. Or if there is a very old woman, catching 40 winks, she isn't to be disturbed. I have also seen an old woman selling something and a buyer actually convincing other women to buy stuff coz the vendor was old and needy.

Toybank Team - Giving back the Right to a Childhood

Thursday, September 28, 2006

You're lost, little boy!

Do you know what's scarier than traveling alone by train at 1:30 am? Finding a 7 yr old kid traveling alone at the same time. Not that I haven't seen kids loitering alone in the streets of Bombay, or I haven't heard of kids moving out all alone in the dead of the night, but interacting with one of them moves you, it shakes you right out of your being.

I went to Powai for a meeting a few days back. The meeting got over at 12. 30 am and I took a 1.23 am train from Andheri. The train was empty, except for 2 women other than me. I had regular thoughts of hoping to not get mugged and that the other women don't get down before me. Safety in numbers. Right enough, one of them got down a station before me. But I soon had a new co-traveler. Only it wasn't a lady in the ladies' compartment. It was a little boy, who saw me and gave a very sweet smile. He came and sat on the opposite seat.

I couldn't help asking what he was doing alone so late in the night. He didn't reply but continued to smile.

Me: Kahan rehte ho?
Him: Delhi, Solapur, pune... train mein kahin bhi.

Me: Naam kya hai aapka
Him: Kanya * think it's Kanhaiya

Me: Aur ma baap?
Kanya : Koi nahin hai (he was still smiling as if it wasn't surprising)

Me: Kiske saath rehte ho?
Kanya : Kisike saath nahin.

Me: Dar nahin lagta?
Kanya : Nahin.

Me: Koi pakadta nahin?
Kanya : (shaking his head) Kal pakda tha

Me: Kisne? Police ne?
Kanya: Nahin. Wo log hain na... (did an action of smoking pot)

Me: Phir?
Kanya: (Smiled and didn't say anything).

Me: Ab kahan jaa rahe ho?
Kanya: Mumbai

Me: Yeh Mumbai hai
Kanya: Looked puzzled but smiled

Me: Pata hai kaunsa station aa raha hai?
Kanya: Bhopal

Me: Kal bhi hoge is train mein?
Kanya: *His eyes seemed to say, 'Who knows?*

'The train stopped and he got off with his dinner, five biscuits and a few pieces of cashewnuts. Before I could do anything or say anything, he ran to look at the injured man (maybe he was even dead) lying with bandaged head on a stretcher. He stood there looking at the hurt guy without moving. And before I could reach there, he had scurried away.

I didn't know what to do at 1.45 am, and being alone. I thought of taking him to the police station, but I don't trust cops much. I wasn't sure if I should get him home with me.

Anyway, I got in touch with an organization to help destitute and needy kids like Kanya. This is what the good lady had to say...

I know about a couple of street children’s homes; you may contact either of the 2 for guidance and further information.

From my little experience I can tell you that many of these kids are not orphans – they have at least 1 parent and/or grand parent with whom they live. And the ones that are orphaned are mostly runaway kids.

Even if the shelter is contacted, it’s not so easy for them to just pick-up the child and it's even more difficult to keep the child at the shelter… many children run away from shelters.

Now all I can do is contact these organizations for guidance and help.

Friends, it doesn't take too much to just dial a number and inform them about any destitute kid or adult. They make it a point to get the person picked up. If one is really passionate about it, one can keep track of what's happening with the person or kid. Or the least we can do is at least not leave them battling alone.

Reaching them to a shelter home will be half the battle won, and it's not necessary that everyone will run away from there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Next wrapping.. Sept. 3.. see you there!

Hope everyone is happy and kicking as ever!!
And if you are not, then get up and do something
about it! Life is crazy exciting!! Simply live it up all the time!

We know, Toybank has been quite for a while. After the 21st May'06 distribution Toybank has had no real big distribution.

We did have a small one though, at Goregaun aarey colony, where we gave away toys to a bunch of 25-30 smart little kids. These kids are taken care of by this organization called Dream India2020. It was a fantastic small distribution we had. They are a group of young gals and guys that have taken up the responsibility of educating and resurrecting the lives of the tribal kids from various parts of Bombay. Toybank was super inspired by them!

Well, the reason behind this post is to let you know that we are planning another day of toy distribution and fun with similar such cute kids sometime in November. (Children's Day month!)
So we need everyone of you to come along and help us in the wrapping session.

We have planned the toy wrapping session on the 3rd of September, 2006, Sunday. Send us a reply to confirm your presence by 27th of August, Sunday. There are two venues that you could choose from: Sion or Dadar.

The details:

Date: 3rd Sept'06, Sunday
Time: 11:30am onwards

Please call or email us asap and let us know which venue would be most convenient for you. And of course you could get along your friends too for this wrapping party!!!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Our new(s) achievement

There are people who make it to the news for the wrong reasons (read Osama Bin Laden or Rahul Mahajan to be closer home and time)... And there are people who make it to the news for the right reasons. Thankfully, Toybank belongs to the latter category! Not that Toybank is patting its back and basking in the glory, but it's a good and encouraging feeling that our efforts are being accepted as worth being spoken about. And, the need of the hour is also awareness so that we can benefit from it and have as many people contributing as possible in taking us closer to our dream, which we are slowly but surely making a reality, of helping the underprivileged kids find their lost childhood.

We are taking immense encouragement from the fact that a prime news channel like CNBC has given us a platform to spread a word about our aspiration and featured us in their esteemed channel. And, we want to share it with everyone who has supported us. As we take our baby steps, please be part of the journey so far, that has just begun.

This evening, June 8, 2006, please tune in to CNBC at 7.00 PM for an interview with Toybank. And should you miss it today, do catch the rerun on Sunday, June 11, 2006 at 12:30 PM.

And, yes, we are looking forward to feedback. Bricks are as welcome as bouquets. It's only this way that we will learn and grow!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Watch this space! One blog coming up...

Here's where we will keep you updated about all our activities.
Not much to read yet.. but worry not.. we will soon have this place up and running!