Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Belur, Here we come! :)

This September marked our first Toy distribution event in rural Karnataka!

September 6th, 2009 - We had a fun filled Toy distribution event at Govt School in Siddarahalli, Belur, Hassan district. We reached out to 60+ kids with 9 volunteers managing the show.

Toybank joined hands with 2 other social welfare groups to bring in more cheer to the children during the event. JoinUs2Help sponsered a parade drum and copywriting books for the children. Aakanksha participated and engaged the children in coloring, drawing and some craft activities.

We would like to Thank each one of you who made it possible!!

Here's how Maya, a Toybanker describes her experiences from the day!

"If you asked the weatherman in Belur the weather forecast for 6th September, 209, he would have told you that there was rain in store for this temple town. He wasn’t entirely wrong…. And here is why….

A slightly cold and wet day marked the day that the Bangalore chapter of Toybank was embarking on its first toy distribution drive in rural Karnataka. With a bunch of three enthusiastic and energetic teachers to greet the 9 of us, we couldn’t help but feel excited. As we drove down the narrow roads surrounded by lush greenery on each side, we learnt that nobody had ever visited this small little school in Siddarahalli before. As the bus got closer to the school, one could see kids running to school in their bright blue uniforms. Bright eyes, smiling eyes, inquisitive eyes, questioning eyes, shy eyes …all wondering who these nine new people were. After a quick round of discussions with the extremely enthusiastic and passionate bunch of teachers and with no time to waste, the event had begun...

Rows of children lined up according to their classes and the leader of the group (the boy who was voted as the “chief minister” of the school) gave them the ‘savadhan’ and ‘vishram’ commands. That moment seemed like the apt moment to unveil the new possession their school had received… the brand new shiny parade drum. The plastic was pulled off, the stand put in place and the stick to beat the drum was handed over to the student leader. His eyes shone with pride, while the other children eye this drum. Encouraged by the teachers, he struck the drum once… BANG… some of the children shut their ears, some looked puzzled, some a little scared. He hit it a few more times…but the faces of the children still registered looks of bewilderment. The drum had no context currently. So, the teacher asked the leader to go about his regular routine of giving commands for exercises and after a few rounds of exercise, he asked the leader to give the commands through the drum beat. Ah ha! The drum now had been placed into a context. The bewildered faces now smiled when they connected the dots and realized what the drum was for. And this drum was now theirs!

But all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. And thus began the game sessions. With some explanation and some trial sessions, the games elicited many giggles and a lot of laughter. When the young ones were playing, the older ones still wanted to be part of it by being spectators. When the elders started to play, the younger ones demonstrated their vocal talents by singing as loud as they could and reciting all the nursery rhymes they knew. Games made on the spur of the moment to cater to the energy that all of them had…Phew!

Then, mixed groups of children were formed and whisked away to different corners to be given a bright bunch of sketch pens and crayons to color sheets with cartoon characters on them. Kids shared the common bunch of colors they had, bargained and booked for colors and even suggested color combinations to each other. Multi-hued fishes, a mickey mouse with a blue tongue, a boy with a yellow leg and a green leg – old cartoon characters now had new avatars!

And then… ta daaaa… it was time for the goodies. After all who comes to school on a Sunday if there isn’t a good enough reason eh?

And there was reason enough…

Notebooks, Pencils, erasers, sharpeners, pens, scales and crayons found their way to the hands of these lovely children. But, wait.. what were those mysterious bags sitting in the middle of the school ground for? Wrapped and hidden from their inquisitive eyes, they wondered what the bags contained. And then each approached the bag and picked out a mysterious package from it. When they finally got to open the package, what did they find? Toys!!! Each different from the other. Nobody had a toy just like theirs. And they each had a toy. Even the mentally challenged boy who came to their school occasionally had a bright red car. Even the cook who lovingly cooked a sumptuous meal for them every day had something to take back for her son. And it was time to wrap up the event, and guess what! volunteers were offered flowers and escorted till bus personally by kids. And, the whole school was running behind the bus waving goodbye!

So, you may be wondering what the weatherman had to do with any of this. He did mention some rain… and rain there was! A rain of gifts. He forgot to mention the flood of smiles and happiness that ensued after that though. And he certainly forgot to mention the rainbow that appears after the rain. A rainbow of hope and color.. not only for the children, but also for the volunteers at the event.. of things to come.. of things to do… and things to happen!"

Catch all the smiles here :)

Bombaat Bengalooru!

Hello there!

This festive season we bring you all the news and updates on how Toybank is bringing cheer to kids all over India!

Let's start with how our Bombaat Bengalooru chapter is doing and the events we have had so far in this year!

December 25th,2008 - Few volunteers in Bangalore came together and arranged a Toy Collection drive at a Motorola office. The response was great! The toys collected were segregated and gift wrapped on Christmas day and the same day we did a Toy distribution event at Karnataka Anatha Makkala Abivruddhi Samsthe, Banashankari III stage and distributed toys to 25 kids from this privately run orphanage.

We had a double dhamaka in February this year!! We had 2 distribution events on the same day :)

February 28th,2009 - We visited the kids at Swanthana. Swanthana, a mission of the Daughters of St. Camillus, is a centre offering care and protection for mentally challenged children in Bangalore. Currently it is home to 31 abandoned mentally challenged and spastic girl children including infants and pre-teens. The home has infants who have been abandoned by their parents at hospitals and other places since they are spastic, MR. or have severe disabilities. Also similar children who have been picked up by police from railway stations and other public places or have been in government homes but could not be cared for due to their special needs are taken care of.

6 of our volunteers visited Swanthana and gave away the toys and a cradle.Here's what one of our volunteers Deepak had to say -

"It was an initiative taken by Toybank to visit Swanthana on Saturday 28th Feb. 6 of us went to Swanthana to meet mentally challenged kids and to spend sometime with them. All Kids welcomed us with smile on their face. We started the day by giving soft toys to the kids – who really enjoyed our presence rather playing with toys. Some kids called us anna, akka, mama etc.. really we felt something different at that situation and we were really happy to spend time with them. After playing with the kids, we went with them inside their house; it was time for them to have lunch. But some kids on that day were not willing to have lunch on their own and everyone was waiting for us to feed them. It was a nice experience for all of us. We had also got cradle and cot along with toys which we assembled before leaving Swanthana. It was a great experience in our life to spend sometime with the kids. We really felt great at the end of the day."

February 28th, 2009 - 8 volunteers distributed toys to kids from Sadashraya, an orphanage near Electronic city and reached out to 30 kids!

May 16th,2009 - We organized a toy distribution event for the needy and disabled children participating in a summer camp at Lakshmipura in Tavarakere, Magadi Road, Bangalore Rural. IAR (Indian Agency for Rehabilitation) India conducted this summer camp from May 13-16. They do it every year and they call it as the Tavarakere summer camp project. We reached out to 50 kids from the camp!

July 2009 - Employees in ANZ, Bangalore organized a toy collection drive for a week in July. The toys collected are waiting to be wrapped and distributed!

Way to go Bangalore! If you wish to get on board with us mail us right away!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bade hoke kya banoge......'Kuch Nahi'!!!

The future of My Country...

'Hi' said Shweta, 'this is Anshu'. A few mins later we were walking out of one of Mumbai's best western suburb mall. No Breakfast and lunch had made them hungry. As we walked back, we saw the three huge apartment complexes being built, they had the raw look with a shade of dust around. This was our destination, right where Rustomjee Elanza was now rising.

We found our way around. Drove into the huge large black gates. The guard asked us to park the van right next to the gates, the driver then asked him to let us to the school. As we made our way through the short dusty road, I saw a building made of bricks, it wasn’t finished. A small head peeped out of the door and vanished in another second.

'Aur bachhe hain?' shweta asked. 'Sab ko bula lo' she continued. Off went one of the youngsters who looked older than the rest. 'Mission sab ko bula lo' now had a go-go. The teacher in the mean time managed getting all the kids in one room. Hritik Roshan, Khushboo, Laltush, Asadur, Rinku, Jyosna Sapidul, Piya, Medina, Imran, Pramila, Mamta, Sibu sat in front of my eyes now. One of them caught my attention; she had these strange green eyes. There a sudden flash of the National Geographic cover page from the Afghan war. I was back again, looking straight into the eyes of each one of them. She was one of the few people whom Gautam caught in his frame. He today was all set to capture a billion emotions. Few smiled, few avoided, some just stared...endlessly into my eyes. It was a very strange feeling. A very very strange feeling...I had in front of me a select future of my country. There I was; looking at them as a toybanker! Hoping to bring a smile on their face, hoping to give them a part of their childhood which they rightfully deserved, hoping to make a difference. And yes, Hritik Roshan was the name of a kid, mother of whose was a die hard fan of the Bollywood hero!

'Chalo taali maaro' and soon everyone's hand went up in sync. This amused me to no extent. Reminded me of P.T at school. This was probably the teacher's way of bringing in a sense of discipline. He was back now, having, managed 5 to 6 more kids. The teacher said 'Bangali ko nahi bulaya, maratha ko bhi nahi bulaya...'. States seemed to have divided our population everywhere.

Sahil and I now decide to take a walk through the hutments...or should I say 'Modern Hutments'. As I walked through them I saw dim huts, I could see a small baby in one. The mother moved inside while I walked through. Some smiled from inside. Bacchon ko bhejo” I would say, “Bhej diya” would come as the reply as I would see two fragile legs finding some space in a corner in the house trying to avoid my sight. Marina was lying there on her mother’s lap. She smiled, I said “Issko school leke jaana hai”. “Uske bhai gayen hain” “Toh kya hua, isse bhi le ke jaana hai”. She nodded her head. Went in, I could hear some utensils moving. A red short and a white t-shirt in had. Marina was now out of the house, while her mother tried to cover her up with clothes. I could see an injury on her hand, a cut on her legs. I looked around. It was just metal all around. I looked no further. I held out my little finger. Marina looked up in amazement. But she held on to it immediately. We walked, but then I realized she couldn’t match her baby steps to my gigantic ones. So I picked her up and held her in my arms. I smiled, and thought “No susu okay” :)

While we were making an exit Sahil showed me this corner and said “there are kids there too. But you will have to call them”. I walked up there. There were loads of men around, there was some kind of fear, but then I smiled, and they smiled back. I said “Bacchon ko School le ke chalna hai”. A lady got out of the hut; she had a typical Bengali black tika. There was a boy of about 8 yrs in age and right next to her sat this small girl. The lady called out “Payal, chalo school”, so Payal moved in. I asked for the boy to get dressed too but she said the boy was unwell, I walked up to him and put my hand on his forehead, he was running temperature. “Haan isko Bukhar hai” I said. In a second Payal peeped out of the door and she said “Amake o Bukhar ache”. Ah, the Bengali family I thought. Thanks to my birth in the eastern part of my country I did catch up with a language close to Bengali. So I shot out a few sentences in Oriya and soon the lady had both Payal and her brother dressed up walking towards the School.

Back in the school I now saw new kids who had joined the bunch. My eyes swept through the room. Four kids who lay along the wall were sound asleep. I smiled. It was off course an obvious thing to happen. The school unlike the tin shed hutments was with a brick roof automatically making it the coolest place in the whole construction site. No wonder each one of them would relish catching a nap in the corners.

Shweta and another Toybanker had now got everyone in a circle. Shweta then announced, we are here only and only to have fun. Yes, that was out sole objective. We were there to have loads of fun in that 20*20 feet room that we had to ourselves. The volunteers were now with the kids, making merry, talking and smiling. The music went up and we tried passing the parcel. The music stopped and Asadur, probably the eldest kid there was asked to dance. He did but to only a nice song. His ambition as he quoted towards the end of the day was to be a dancer. I stood right at the door. Looking at each one of them, my eyes stopped at Rinku as he pulled his short about the knee. I saw a dark black patch. It was an injury which had gone dry now. I looked away; I walked out to catch some fresh air. As I stood there gazing at the tall structures, Shweta walked out “Tu kya yahan statue of liberty ki tarah khada hai”. I just smiled, I was lost in thoughts.

Chintan had now arrived with his bank of goodies. Books, food, pens and stationery. FOOD! :)

We smuggled all of it through a window to one of the other rooms. The kids now were in a free dance mode. The 20/20 feet room had transformed into one of those hundred discotheques that the rich and famous visited. The only difference being that this one was had no lights except for sunlight. There were no 1000 watt speakers but just a television which doubled up as speakers. This was pure happiness, a source of letting go their fears, living the moment. The room fell short for the madness. They were jumping all over, falling on each other, climbing on each others feet, but then there were just smiles all around. Sheer bliss!

One of them wanted to leave. We as volunteers tried resisting. But he just wanted to. A minute later he was back. He pointed towards his toe. There was blood. The numerous open iron rods were the cause. I asked for a first aid kit, there was none. The driver of the van suggested putting some engine oil on it! I froze, dumbstruck. I washed his feet; he said there was a first aid kit in the office. He left for the same. It is an amazing fact, there seemed to be no pain, no hurt, no emotions and neither any regret in his eyes as he left. I compared it to what a much smaller injury to me would do to the world around me. This was a stark contrast. I was yet again left with no words, no thoughts. Probably the Nth time in the day!

The toy distribution started. Neatly wrapped toys in newspapers made their way from big brown carton boxes to tiny little hands. Hands which probably never seen anything close to a toy. There were smiles, a few clapped, I wonder how many of them knew what exactly lay in there hands. But there was genuine excitement. But then there was this look that I saw in a few eyes. It wasn’t happiness, there wasn’t any joy, there seemed to be a question for which there were no answers. A question which was a simple “Why?” “Why did it take so long for them to come” “Why didn’t we ever know a toy existed” “ Why only now”. We had brought a smile, we had got them a part of their child hood which they rightfully deserved, and we had made a difference. We don’t know how long would the memory last, we don’t know how long the happiness would last but then a small part had been played.

Things inside had changed now. The volunteers were now noting down the names of the kids for the database. We captured the name, the age and the interest. The ages varied. The interest though was being asked as a question…”Bade hoke kya banoge…”. “Kuch Nahi” was the first reply, “Kuch nahi” was the second, “Kuch Nahi” was the third. I close my eyes, whom do I blame? Whom do I blame but I. For a world that lay beyond these tall structures, for they shall not be there to see it. For them the world rallied between places of construction, cement, iron railings, helmet and tin sheds. There was noise, lot of noise in my head. It was not I, but WE were to blame. “Bade hoke kya banoge…” “Police” “Teacher” “Doctor”. I saw hope, I saw our future. There were 37 kids who registered; there were 8 ambitions, 3 police officers, 1 actor, 1 teacher, 1 dancer and 2 doctors. They were my hope and along with them the 29 others were my hope. I could not give up on them. They are what we are. A small thought but a true fact. In them lay our country, in their smiles, in their ambition, in their joy and in their hope.

The kids hurried off home. The Toybankers sat back. There were quick updates, I was still thinking. We left, to meet again some day, to get them their smiles, to get them their deserved rights.

Happy Toybanking & Eid Mubarak!

Find all the pics and the smiles here!

PS: Asadur came back while the toybankers caught up. His toy was incomplete. It was a board game. He had a request “Car”. This one thing that I knew in a second that I would not give him. I pulled out a game of brainvita. A warning of “no goli” to be played. I explained the game. Told “Deemag wala hai”. He was not convinced. “Deemag to hai, yeh nahi chahiye”. I challenged him. He said “two games, one marble on the board”. I said “ok, we then go to the mall and get you the car. We were four games down, there were four marbles on the board. I left him with my phone number and a promise to see him this Saturday. If he leaves the board with one marble, he gets the “Car” and probably another challenge. He noted my mobile number. I noted his down. I await his missed call. I live with a hope that my phone rings now, and it reads “Asadur”. This is hope, this is faith, this is belief, this is what a toy can do to a child.

Sanketh Koka

Toybank Team
Giving back the Right to a Childhood.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Distribution time!

Hello Toybankers!

Hope all of you are in the best of spirits! :-)

To add to your happy times, Toybank Bombay has planned a toy distribution event with around 46 kids this Saturday, 19th Sept at 3:30 pm.

This is an event with kids of construction workers. They are being taken care of by an NGO called Mobile Creches that have a centre within the construction premise. Toybank has had various events with kids of different branches of Mobile Creches in the past. They have always been very memorable events! We are eagerly looking forward to this next event! Kids will receive toys on an individual basis and also we shall leave about a dozen toys
with the centre teachers.

Happy Toybanking guys!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Bank of Games and Fun

Toybank was featured in the 'real page 3' of Indian Express on July 20th, 2009.
To read more click here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

August 20th 2009, Toybank featured on PopTech!

Toybank has been featured on Pop!Tech!

Delivering Childhoods and Livelihoods in India - Read more here

June 13th, 2009 - IBM Pune employees donate toys to kids from Gyanankur!

Toybank Pune kicked off it's 2nd toy collection drive with IBM. We had a great toy collection drive in IBM's offices in Pune and the 350+ toys received were segregated according to age groups of children and wrapped by IBM volunteers on Saturday, 30th May. Click here for some pics.

The wrapped toys were donated to around 330 children from Gyanankur School from Kesnand Village, Pune on the 13th of June in a distribution event.

Venue: Gyanankur School, Kesnand, Pune.
Duration: 13th June, 2009
Tentative Timing: 8 AM -1 PM

We had an amazing toy distribution event with the kids from Gyanankur School!

All the volunteers met at Panchshil Tech Park One where the cartons of toys collected from IBM were kept. We started at around 9 15 AM and reached Gyanankur. Each volunteer took over a classroom along with the teachers. There were 8 classrooms in Gyanankur School.

It was the first day at school for all kids after the vacation but for the pre nursery kids it was the first day ever at school! So many of them kept crying for their mom and dad. The nursery teachers took the best care of them while we started distributing the samosas to all kids in the school.

There were 200 kids present from pre nursery till 4th Std and close to 100 more were absent as the school doesn't usually have Saturday as a working day. The school had specially let us organize this event on Saturday and called all the kids to come in.

We entertained the kids in all classrooms with rhymes, pictionary games, singing etc from 10 - 11 30 AM. We even managed to play kho-kho in class I where the students dodged their teachers :) It was great fun to watch!

The kids from class I - IV were very smart and all geared up for this event. All the children were excited and they were involved in various activities through the next 1.5 hrs. At around 11 30 AM we started to distribute biscuits to the children followed by the toys which were given according to the age groups.

We donated around 350 toys which also includes toys to kids who were absent and also toys donated to the toy library of Gyanankur.We were also joined by Shweta Chari who's the founder of Toybank and Vikram Nerurkar who's part of the core Toybank Team from Mumbai.

After the kids left the school we had an informal meet with volunteers, teachers, Melinda Parker- Hon Director of Gyanankur and Shweta Chari. It was amazing to see the 'happy teachers'. We applauded their efforts for taking care of the children on their first day at school!

Few comments about the event from the teachers at Gyanankur
"It was a very good event. You are doing a great deed"
"You guys were very organized"

We are grateful to -

(1) Melinda and Gyanankur for giving us an opportunity to start our first toy distribution event in Pune with them and also for providing transport to the cartons and our volunteers to Gyanankur.

(2) The teachers at Gyanankur for guiding our volunteers through the event and involving themselves in all the fun activities.

(3) Volunteers Parag Agrawal, Vibhuti Agrawal, Surendra Nishad, Aradhna Sharma, Lakshmi Vedula, Akshay Girhotra, Imtiyaz Hussain, Abhishek Chouhan and his 4 year old son Reyansh (who is now the youngest volunteer on board Toybank!) without whom this event would have not been possible. Their time, enthusiasm and energy was all that we banked on for this distribution event! Thanks Guys!

(4) Neeran Karnik who has volunteered to donate Rs 1750 for the samosas, Namita Kapoor(Rs 500) and Nargis Pharate(Rs 100) who donated for the biscuits. We are sure the kids had fun having them! Thanks Melinda for arranging the samosas!

(5) The On Demand Community, its volunteers, Facilities Management and Security at IBM Pune for letting us organize this drive and collect 350+ toys for this event and also for wrapping all the toys!

(6) Abhishek and Vikram for helping us with the snaps for the event!

Here's the link to the pics taken at the event!

April 22nd, 2009 - Cricket Tournament for the Visually Impaired

Toybank is partnering with the Rotaract Club of Churchgate (RCC) in distributing toys to 150 children from Drishti tomorrow!

The Cricket match takes place tomorrow at the historic “Brabourne Stadium” !
Timings: 9am to 4pm.

You are free to go there anytime as per your convenience.Cost: Rs.30/- for each ticket (goes to Drishti).

This has by far been one of most unique toy distributions ever in the history of Toybank. Apehxa, our new Toybanker has nicely captured it in her essay. Here are some lines from it-

"This is Aphexa and I am a fresher at Toybank. I strongly believe in the motto “TOGETHER WE CAN BE THE CHANGE”. iVolunteer has placed me with Toybank, a non profit organization.Though I am newly exposed to this field of volunteering, I can perceive that Toybank plays a very crucial role in giving children back the right to a childhood.

The match was unique in its place as the players as well as the spectators were visually impaired and their efforts and their enthusiasm was unbounded. I was given the task of knowing the children in a better way. I had to note details like their names, age and their ambition in life. Interviewing them tears ran down my eyes.

These little angels did not dream with their eyes but they felt their dreams in their heart. The smile that they had on their face was worth millions. The first little kid that I chatted with was Maulik who said that his dream was to be a great cook cause he just loves food! These little kids aspire to become computer engineers, doctors, cricketers, business men, singers and musicians. Fateh wants to become a racer, Abu who wants to be a famous tailor, Ravi who wants to be a tabla player, Rahul who wants to be a chess player, Mayur, a yoga teacher and Tushar a flute player.These kids seemed very confident of their ambitions in life.

After the prize distribution I on behalf of Toybank distributed toys to these kids who were so happy to receive them. My happiness too knew no bounds. There was an immense feeling of joy and satisfaction within. I too was given a small token of their (RCC) appreciation.

I pray to God may he give me such wonderful opportunities where in I can share what he has given me and may he give us all the strength to help in whatever way we can."

Happy Toybanking folks!
From everyone at Toybank.

April 20th, 2009 - Toybank in DNA again!

Toybank has been featured in Communities - Creative NGOs on DNA!

Banking on toys to share joy! Read more here.

Feb 14th, 2009 - Toy drive in Pashan, Pune

Volunteers in Pune - get ready to join us for toy drives in Panchvati, Pashan. Toybank toy drives will be on in various buildings/societies in Panchvati.

We'll be collaborating with volunteers in Pashan and One Life to kick start this toy drive. We have a meeting scheduled today at 2 PM.

Date: Saturday, February 14, 2009
Time: 2 - 3 PM
Location: One Life Activity Club,Near State Bank Nagar Society,Panchvati
Street: Pashan Road
City: Pune

Here's the agenda for the meeting.

(1) Chalk out plans for toy drive in various buildings/societies in Pune .
(2) Discuss how we can get volunteers from Pune who can help us in collection, gift-wrapping and distribution with the help of One Life and also by spreading a word across all societies.
(3) Involve Volunteers from One Life in our distribution events and hence encourage inclusive play.
(4) Identify NGOs in and around Pashan so that distributions can happen in same area.
(5) Discuss on how we can schedule monthly or fortnightly meetings/follow ups.
(6) Discuss any other ways how we can collaborate with One Life to spread the message.

Please mail us at pune@toybank.org in case you have any queries.

Also there are toy drives happening in Juhu Vile Parle, Mumbai starting from 16th of February till 7th of March. Find out more here.

This is a toy collection and distribution drive set up all through JVPD Scheme, Mumbai. Students from the MBA Tech program from the Mukesh Patel Institute are initiating this Toy rally all through mid February and March. People living around these areas can fully support this activity if interested. Please write in to mail@toybank.org for more details.

Let us give back the right to a childhood!

Vote for Shweta Chari!

June 15th 2008 - Toybank reaches Pune!

Hey all!

How's everybody doing??

You must be wondering if Toybank shut down its Bangalore operations. We apologize for not being in action for close to 5 months! The last event in Bangalore was on 21st of Dec for kids from Annanya.

Time for a quick recap! :)

The Bangalore Chapter started on 18th Aug 2007.

The journey so far:
We had toy distribution events with Nele (18th Aug) and Makkala Jagriti (8th Sept), Swanthana , Suraksha Makkala Rakshane (2nd Dec) and amazing toy collection drives in Raheja Residency, Koramangala (22nd Sept) and Akme Harmony (5th Jan 2008) . We celebrated Children's Day with kids from Balajothi Centre for the Disabled, Benson Town. Also we had a fantastic time with kids from Annanya where we celebrated Christmas on the 21st of Dec!

Till now we were using iVolunteer's Bangalore office for the gift wrapping sessions as we don't have an office in Bangalore. We thank Prarthana and iVolunteer immensely for giving us the space! Even now I guess there are a lot of toys lying around at their office :-)

We are now looking for active volunteers in Bangalore and also a couple of coordinators who would arrange toy collection drives/ toy gift wrapping sessions and toy distribution events.

If you are interested to coordinate or volunteer for Toybank Bangalore, please write to us on bangalore@toybank.org

Also volunteers interested in volunteering for Toybank Pune, please do write to us for volunteering opportunities and any queries at pune@toybank.org

Swetha Dua
Toybank Team - Giving back the Right to a Childhood

Nov 14th 2007 - Children's Day is here again!

With the Children's Day around the corner, we at Toybank definitely won't be idle this month :). We have decided to bring more smiles to the children in Bangalore by celebrating Children's Day with them!

So join us at these events happening this week:
(1) Children's Day with kids of Balajothi Centre for the Disabled - Benson Town.

Date : 14th November 2007
Time: 9.30 AM onwards ( around 2-3 hours)
Venue: Balajothi Centre for the Disabled
# 25, 2nd main, S.K.Garden
Benson Town, Bangalore – 560046

(2) Inauguration of a new Makkala Jagriti learning centre in partnership with Dept. of Women & Child Development, Govt. of Karnataka.

Toybank is giving away toys to Makkala Jagriti's new learning centre this Saturday. These toys will go to the 'toy space' at the centre.

Watch out for this space for more events and activities happening at Toybank!

Oct 11th 2007 - Toybank featured in Sattva's Anniversary Issue

Check out for Toybank in Sattva's Anniversary Issue

Also check out Sattva's anniversary issue on Nextbillion.net, which is a website of New York-based World Resources Institute.

If you want to know more about people behind the making of Sattva and their ideas visit ITIHAS

Sept 22nd 2007 - Toy collection drive at Raheja Residency

Yes! Toybank Bangalore arranged the 2nd toy collection drive this weekend!

Date and Time: 22nd Sept 2007, 10 AM - 1 PM Venue: Club House, Raheja Residency, Koramangala 3rd Block, Bangalore

You have to check out these pics to believe what an awesome toy collection drive we had today at Raheja Residency!

Toybank thanks -

  • All those people who spent some time to dig their wardrobes for some toys which their kids would have thrown away long back!
  • All those moms who got their kids along to our stall, and when their kids started feeling sad about giving their toys away, they consoled them saying "beta, you promised me that you'll give these toys, now other children will play with them".
  • People who have now moved out of Raheja, but still came all the way to give toys after getting an email on the Raheja group.
  • Friends and volunteers who managed to get the carton boxes, stationery, and packaging tape in place for this drive.

Thanks everyone!!

Sept 8th 2007 - ram ram :)

Yet another memorable day!

I will always remember this day for loads of happiness, life, excitement, josh and high doses of energy around me!

Thanks to the kids from Asha Kirana Nele - angels with beaming eyes!

We reached the venue near Gottigere, Bannerghatta Road well before the scheduled time, met up with the staff at Nele. With in 5-10 mins the little ones marched into their home with heavy school bags. We waited for all of them to come back from school so that we could start off our Teacher's Day toy distribution event for Toybank. Trust me, I couldn't wait any longer!

Center in-charge, A S Patil was telling us that the identified kids are brought to the Nele Home and they are given a 3 month bridge course to help them get used to going to school. And later, they are admitted into a school. We were so happy when we heard that this Govt School was right beside the home.

By 11 30, all the kids were back from school. We had an 'Intro Please' game with all the kids. We asked them to say their name, class in which they are studying and yes, along with this we asked them to sing a song or give us a dance performance. What happened next? You should have been there with us to enjoy all that what happened after that!!

My visits to NGOs in the past had me see an average of 60% of the kids who are very enthu and energetic but still there's always this remaining 40% group which remains shy and reserved! But how can ALL the kids at Nele be superrrrrrr talented, superrrrrrrrr smart, full of discipline and have a lot of cultural values which exactly mirrors Nele's vision statement!

Also I observed a very nice thing that all the smaller kids in the home greet all the elder ones when they meet each other.

We had told the kids not to repeat any song in the “Intro Please”. And guess what… there were 32 kids and each one sang us a different song!! Even if any of the kids sang a song which was already sung and we stopped them, they didn’t back out!! They went ahead and sang us a brand new poem/song. 2 groups gave us dance performances for songs about the nation and the state.

Only one kid sang “Anisuthide yaako indu” from Mungaaru Male, a recent blockbuster in Kannada Film Industry and one sang from Sivaji – a Tamil blockbuster. This took us by surprise coz these were the only “film songs” the kids sang, rest all of them being Kannada poems taught to them in school.

We had planned a 2 hour event with the kids, but seeing their immense talent and excitement we pushed it close to 3 hours as we wanted all children to get a chance to showcase their talent. We didn’t have to plan any games and organize any fun activities. We were already having so much of FUN! There was absolutely no need to plan any more games to entertain the kids.

After the Intro Please, we distributed chocolates to the kids and then happened the 2nd “toy distribution event” for Toybank. We gave around 30 toys to the home which included soft toys, kitchen toys, cars, bikes, etc.

There are these other toys, something we have termed the ‘teacher toys’ :) which we give it to the teachers/care-takers at an NGO, so that they make all the kids play/use them for group games. Nele had a play space, now it'll have a 'toy space'. All these toys will now go to the 'toy space' in Asha Kirana Nele where all kids can play with them.

The kids went on to dedicate a song to their teachers at Nele giving them all the respect they deserve!

It was wrap-up time… we started bidding bye to all the tiny tots at Nele. Suddenly 5 kids came up to me and held my hands and said...

akka neevu nam jote bandu oota maadi…ondu sari banni…banni akka…” [“Sis come and have lunch with us…just one time…please come sis”].

I was happy, excited and yes speechless! :).

I am sure all the people who know me the best want me to stay ‘speechless’ all the time :P. Jokes apart…this emotion can never be expressed in just a few words!

Few seconds later I came out of my world of happiness, I told them that definitely I’ll join them another time. I am sure that’ll happen very soon! :)

After a quick 'say cheeeeeeeeeeese' photo session, the children bid us goodbye and at Nele you wouldn’t hear a ‘bye’ from anyone…it's ‘ram ram’ :)))

Catch glimpses of the event here :)

Swetha Dua
Toybank Team - Giving back the Right to a Childhood

Sept 7th 2007 - This time its ‘Nele’!

After the superb start of its Bangalore Chapter with MakkalaJagriti last month, Toybank is back with a bang! Toybank has its 2nd distribution event this Saturday, this time with kids from ‘Nele’.

Here's a little trivia about Nele for you-

For many children in India, streets are their homes. In Bangalore there are more than 80000 children picking rags and living on roadsides. Here's an organization 'Nele' which has experimented on a humble idea of providing a shelter and nurturing the growth of the child at the same time inculcating cultural values in these children. Nele seeks to help children help themselves. Nele's vision is to ensure physical, mental and moral soundness and well-being of the homeless children.

So what does Nele do to achieve its vision -

Nele identifies street children, rag pickers and neglected children and bring them to its home. Nele has five homes - Narendra Nele for boys and Nivedita Nele for girls, and also 3 more homes Namma Mane, Asha Kirana and Nele Premanjali. These homes provide food, shelter, education and health supervision.

Also Nele,

* Arranges for formal education and related needs
* It facilitates training in skills, crafts and arts.
* Counsels families
* Creates awareness on consequences of smoking, alcoholism and drugs

This Teacher's Day we plan to bring smiles to kids from Asha Kirana Nele and make it a memorable day for them and am sure it'd be an unforgettable day for all of us too!