Impact Volunteering Volunteering in India

The Braille, the language of feel, and their World of Fun!

The Braille, the language of feel, and their World of Fun!
KIIIDS’ – I yelled.
…what idea have you got about today’s program?’ – the ‘trainer-brain’ in me urged me to ask the kids of my team….
We were a group of 85 volunteers participating in the ‘Joy of Giving’ event at Fun World. The program was about assisting Visually Impaired [‘beneficiary’ henceforth] kids and adults for Joy rides @ the Fun World. The whole bunch of volunteers were divided into 4 teams; and paired with beneficiaries on 1:1 basis. The team that I belonged to [Chak De!] had only kids J [had to be so! especially with ME in it(wink, wink ;))]
We are gonna play games’ – was the collective reply. [Fair enough!]
So what kind of games do you usually play in school and home’ – I shot back at the already enthusiastic kids
Merry-go-round, jaara bande, swings…’ and few other names I’m not able to recollect [blame my poor technical knowledge in Kannada..didnot spend my childhood in K’taka :P!]
So, today..its gonna be similar games..but they will be much bigger, speedier and few will be slightly different’ […few imaginations already sketching…few smiles already lighting up!]
‘CHAK DEE’ – with a shout, a round of claps and whistles, we made a grand entry into the Park; thus kick-starting our Fun Event organized by ‘Gift-abled’ together with the Bangalore Trekking Club, Shree Ramana Maharishi School and few other volunteer groups.
Now that the rides were going to be relatively ‘bigger’, we started off  explaining few of the kids (including my beneficiary), the meaning of what ‘Big things’ mean. Touch-and-feel of the of a Giant wrestler’s arms (installed right at the Entrance) proved to be just the right activity for this!
With ‘Awe-struck’ ‘Surprised’ ‘Thrilled’ and ‘Happy’ expressions, the kids n elders, all moved on to the core rides.
She, me & the rides:
My pair was a 10-year old girl named ‘Gita’. A ‘chota-packet’ of talent and enthu, who has learnt Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam [still learning] and has given group performances in a TV channel!
On any other normal day, joy rides would mean ‘just-sit-n-enjoy’ stuff. Never cared about what direction / path a ride many compartments did it have..where the supporting bars/belts are located..or even the shapes and sizes!
But today, the experience was something different! Explaining each ride with as much detail as possible – drawing directions in the kid’s arm, giving a rough imagination about the area a ride covered (via sound analysis, while we were waiting for our turn), comparing each ride to the best possible example she could relate to – was sort of, an eye-opening (and of course, my ‘mouth-opening’) experience. [my personal thrill was that – there was none to control the ‘chatter-box’ in me 😀 ‘touch-feel-talk’ was the key mode of communication with the Specially abled people, to make them understand the surrounding]. Even more thrilling was – when she took all the download from me diligently and we experienced all the rides in the same way! And as we started building that understanding between each other, the girl started asking for more n more; and we kept increasing our pace and Fun 😀 Thereafter, it was just jumping from one ride to another, meeting the rest of the group here-n-there, shouting, howling, clapping, whistling and ‘Feeling’ the rides – till the day was called off.
Throughout the day, the Event was an energy-packed, thrilling and a Unique experience!
The Philosopher’s note:
Frequently, I hear a saying in Kannada which translates to this – “Help done from one hand, should not be made known to another”. A saying which, I guess, most of us believe in.
However, the Fun world event modified this belief in me a bit. Volunteer activities such as these deserve to be promoted and publicized, of course, with the right intentions. It’s the events such as these that bridges all kinds of differences – old, new, abled, specially-abled – all coming together with a common purpose. And this time, it was simple – Have Fun! That’s itJ
And, if you closely look at your own life, come to think of this – We never needed support to live our own reality (each is better off with his own). It was only when we chose to move out, did we Reach out!
At the end of the day, we all are incomplete in some or the other way, and seek support when we truly dare to look beyond our limits! They pushed their limits and dreamed of making it to joy-rides, we just rendered them the support they needed to make this live.
Well, I know the stuff right above was more of a Social science, but equally important for me to let the world know 😛 The ‘Joy of Giving’ event was truly a joyful event, with a lot of take-aways that would surely count in life down the lane.
My take-aways from the Event:
1.      People, people and more people: Meeting new and old people, all for a common goal, was a very pleasant thing happening over this event. I had no clue, that an entire troupe of my ex-colleagues would also be a part of the volunteer group. Was taken aback, nonetheless, happy meeting them 😛
2.      Awareness about the braille: At the end of the event, the entire group of volunteers and the beneficiaries had a gathering. Post the thank-you speeches, there was a brief session on how the braille works. [this was really something new and very knowledgeable!]. Watching the kids happily teaching the rest, about the braille was a kind of delight we get to perceive very rarely!
3.      The real million dollar smile: In the middle of one of the speedy rides, I casually checked with my kiddie beneficiary as to how was she feeling. The warmth and innocence that came with the response, was once again, a rare experience. That genuine expression of the kid, had the power to melt a hundred hearts – I was after all, just one [aint an exaggeration! U feel it, u believe it!]. And to get more of such an effect, I repeatedly checked on her feeling throughout the day 😀 [greed did this job, not I :P]
4.      Victory feeling: Got a chance to take an elderly VI lady Marisha’s feedback on the event, while on the way back home. As expected, she confessed that she did not want to be sympathized or pitied by other (read normal) people and was little skeptical about the entire event. And immediately she glows with a smile and admits – ‘but it turned out to be a lot of fun and I’m thankful I did not miss it. It was because people were there to support, that we enjoyed’. Yes – they just needed a ‘support’. We all need it at some or the other point of time, don’t we? And yes! This meant that the event was a Success – in its motive, purpose and in every way J So, kudos!
All in all, it was a day filled with fun, and something called as ‘Soul-satisfaction’. You name it as a ‘Social help’ ‘Social commitment’ or any other buzzing term. But for me, the ‘Joy of Giving’ was truly a joy given to me! A satisfaction that no money, flashlights, or glamour can buy.
Thanks to one and all involved!:) A special mention to the Organizers.
..A message to the ‘Heidi’ fan club:
To all the Heidi fans out there! I found a real-life Heidi in the girl I met :D. The way this little girl expressed ‘akka, nange thumba khushi agtaide’ [akka, I am feeling extremely happy] – felt as if little Heidi has jumped out of the book and manifested herself 😉 😀
P.S: This post is a small dedication to my beneficiary ‘Gita’ – as a gift for her birthday [October 16th]. A bundle of energy as she is, someday I hope to see her breaking some record in Dance. Prayers and wishes to all the specially abled kids and elders alike..
*Names of the beneficiary’s changed for protecting identity”

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