Monday, July 08, 2013

Toybank's rural toy libraries in Thane disttict

"Only where children gather is there any real chance of fun."

And the setting up of the rural toy library had loads of it. Each one of us, me and another intern with our mentor, Amruta knew this trip would be a different experience all together, but no one expected it to be so exuberant and inspiring. In the end, we realized, it just weren’t the kids who benefited, but us too.

 We left early in the morning so as to avoid the traffic and also the place we were headed to was about 100kms from where we started. With loads of toys and enthusiasm, we embarked on a journey that we were eagerly waiting for. We then stopped for breakfast and met project coordinator from Impact India Foundation, Mrs. Manoj Prajapati. He was to accompany us to the two schools which were shortlisted for setting up toy libraries. The first place on our itinerary was the Impact India Foundation office in Wada, where we met the Project Director in charge of the Wada region. He briefed us on the projects that they have under-taken and appreciated the initiative taken by toybank in setting up toy libraries in the rural region. Next on our list was a school in Desai taluka that was very soon going to be bustling with activities. We were greeted upon our arrival and Manoj sir introduced us to the principal and the kids. The anxious expression on the faces of the kids while we were unloading the toys was a moment to capture, and one I personally would never forget. Each and every kid had a questionable look, what is hidden in those cartons?
Mr.Manoj from Impact India Foundation introduces Toybank to the children of Desai Zilla Parishad School

The curious faces with a pinch of excitement to know what there in the boxes?

 Very soon they got their answers, and now were restlessly waiting to pounce on them. Before that, we had to explain the rules to the principal and the teacher, so that they could explain it to the kids in the manner they would understand. Amruta took over the formalities part, explaining on how to maintain a toy library, meaning of different color stickers, maintaining a proper log of the toys and some general stuff. After the explanation and the formalities, we got down to what we enjoy the most, playing! The kids were shy in the beginning but got over it after a while. We played some numerical puzzles and board games which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. After spending some time with them, we had to leave for another school. The principal gave a vote of thanks and was a really proud moment for us, especially for the amateur interns! Next stop was a Ashramshala in Kalamba, another taluka in Wada district.
Training the teachers on the maintenance of toy library

And its time to play !

The lush greenery, tranquil weather and the calm made for a breathtaking panorama, and it made our day every more special. After an hour ride in this insane beauty, we reached Kalamba. An over-enthusiastic principal, Mrs. Rajendra Patil greeted us with rose, yes rose!! and gave us an introduction about the school and told us how harsh conditions these kids have to face, and it was really inspiring to see these kids smile when they live through so much difficulties. And to make them smile for real, believe me, it’s the best feeling in the world that no blog or words could ever describe, its godly! It motivated us more and with Amruta doing her routine, we got down to playing with the kids this time. Teachers too joined in and to see them so excited, everything just felt right. We taught and played puzzles, an interesting game of Squap (an outdoor game played in the west), some block games and many more. 
The warm welcome received from the principal at Kalamba Ashramshala

Our interns having a training session for teachers on how to play the games

We asked kids to join in and without any hesitation, they stepped right in. We conducted games between them, played with teachers and on seeing this; the principal finished the formalities early and joined us! It was a delightful sight to see everyone cheering, laughing and joking around. Even the girls, who were extremely shy in the beginning, joined in. It became a festive atmosphere, and we had forgotten how late it was. We had to leave, and again, Manoj sir and the principal applauded our efforts with kids clapping continuously, we thanked them all for their cooperation. We left completely satisfied and wanting for more. Although we were late and had to face Mumbai’s trademark traffic, the smiles that the kids showered us with were more than enough to counter it. In all, this day would be cherished for all the excitement, fun, lessons that we learned and would like to end it with a quote from a famous personality:

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” 

- By Raghav (BITS Intern)

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