Learning from the field- Andheri
Date: Wednesday 6th June 2018
Day started out by visiting the Ashadeep centre in Marole (andheri east). This was my first play session. We took a while to find each other on the road and then had to walk almost a km into the community which gave us a good chance to understand the community life. We passed fishing markets, a very pretty church and lots of houses. Outside one house there was a grandmother, her daughter/daughter-in-law cleaning vegetables, and 2 kids playing with some toys and there was music playing from inside and all of them miming the words. We were 3 of us- the field officer, Chloe (my fellow volunteer and me).
When we reached the centre, the children were already busy playing with different toys. They looked so happy to see us and were excited to let us join in and play with them. There was a box of games on the side and it seemed like the children had already picked out their favourite games, made their groups and were all set to get the games started!
Children are incredibly unique and you can see so many of their personality traits stand out by just observing them play. I spent time with different groups and each child gave me a new perspective and also reminded me of some part of my childhood. I got a chance to watch children play board games, twister, solve puzzles and even just arrange marbles on the ground in patterns that only they understood 😊
One of the older girls was sitting quietly in one corner of the room with her favourite Hannah Montana puzzle. She told me how she picks this up every time and takes an average time of 30 minutes to finish it - however with every time she tries to fasten her process and finish it sooner. Watching her patiently assemble her pieces and colour co-ordinate them was so relaxing (at least for someone like me obsessed with colours and organisation :p)
I noticed that many of the children would finish a game and then when they picked out a new one, they would try to find a new empty sit corner of the room and set up base there until they were done with the game. It was almost as if they felt they needed a new space to experience a new game and it was all part of their plan. On average each game would last for about 10-15 minutes. You could also see the more talkative children occupy the centre of the room and engage in more competitive team games. While they did dominate the space with their presence and passion for competition, every child in the corner stood out just as much and seemed unaffected and engaged in their own games.
I have lived for just 30 minutes away from this centre for the past 25 years and had no idea about its existence and the number of people it impacts with skill building, games and community events. I got to meet and speak with 2 of the women who manage the centre- they not only took out time to share their stories and the association’s history with us (despite having a busy day) but also made us eat a sweet called paysum they had prepared to celebrate one of their birthdays. When we were leaving the centre (very well fed) a couple of the children came downstairs to say goodbye and wished us a safe journey back home. Our walk out of the centre felt more familiar and it seemed like in 2 hours we had gotten to know the community better.