In the 16 years of my life, I have often faced questions about my identity. Who are you? your parents….? where have you come from? Questions to which I had no answers. I simply did not know. I remember that at age 5, I was on a railway platform when a cop confronted me with the same set of questions. I told him my name-I am Shivaji; he asked me where I came from? ‘Amaravati in Maharashtra’, I said. That was all I knew.
Since then I have remained enrolled in an institution for care and protection. No one ever visited me, I don’t know who has given me my surname.
Initially the questions would disturb me-even make me angry. When I was 13 yrs old I moved into the Boys observation Home in Pune, Maharashtra. This was a nice place; importantly, there were many others like me-with no identity. We lived together as one, big family; I mingled with my classmates, made friends, found supervisors who could guide me. It was here that I came across CSA. I was in the 8th standard and CSA had arranged coaching classes for us. CSA also organized several education, and fun events that got all of us together. Sometimes, even boys from other institutions joined us.
With help available, I found myself doing better in school. My performance had improved; I was more attentive; above all I was now interested in my life.
Last year I completed high school and I did well scoring first-class grades. More importantly, I took the semi-English option i.e. clearing all the papers in 2 languages-my mother tongue (Marathi) and, English. In the Home, I was the first one to do so and suddenly, I was a hero! I began to be called ‘Shivaji the Topper’!!!
Now, it seems like I have an identity-my very own. My achievements will, I realize, speak for me. I have enrolled for first year Diploma course of Mechanical Engineering and yesterday, I received my first engineering-instruments’ kit from CSA. Soon I will be ‘Shivaji the Engineer! And that will be my identity!!!
‘Music’ the word itself gives us relaxation, pleasure and peace of mind. Listening music dose a miraculous job to transform the tensed and stressed situation. This summer when all those orphan children who have there far relatives or single parent went back to their home for vacation and only those remained who really are total orphan. For them the orphanage campus is their whole world, more over their past makes them more nervous and lifeless.
CSA thought of bringing some liveliness to the atmosphere by experimenting with music therapy. Mr. Umesh Javalkar who himself is the music lover and expert to play many musical instrument showed his interest to volunteer and teach the kids to play Casio in their premises itself. CSA discussed the plan and sponsored to purchase Casio. It was decided that Mr. Umesh will allow each and every child to play the instrument and then will identify those kids who because of traumatic condition has become more reserve and timid. He showed his confidence that music will transform these kids and they will have a positive attitude towards life. Music therapy is one of the best methods of relaxation and rejuvenates person to be filled with liveliness. With this thought and with lots of apprehensions we tried this musical experiment at Observation Home for Boys, Pune Maharashtra (India).
In the 1st week when I paid visit to this class I was very happy to see or hear children playing national anthem. I was surprised how come they could pick up the musical notes in such short span? Kids already decided that they will play national anthem on Casio during Independence Day (15th August) Celebration. Not only were those who are playing the instrument but also those who are listening enjoyed the session. Mr. Umesh is helping them with great passion and children are responding to him so well which made CSA’s effort worth. I hope this activity achieve the objective with which it has started. We are thankful to all of you and well wishers of CSA for enabling us to help kids in need to help themselves. :)
As a part of CSA’s Destitute Rehabilitation Project, I often visited Observation Home for boys and observation home for Girls. While talking to care takers, Guards and teachers associated closely with these institutionalized children I could make out that they always say that these children are so difficult to manage, they are so hyperactive and so we have to behave very strictly with them. Some teachers even complaint, that the boys also sometime do such a mischievous thing that the people who are staying in neighborhood come and complain to institution’s management. People come complaining that the children are throwing stones on their window glass just for the sake of fun. Some said that they purposely throw ball in their building and then keep shouting to get it back etc. the list will go long……..
Thinking on these lines I often felt that this is happening because there is lots of energy which has to be channelized. While talking to the boys I came to know that they have very strict routine to follow and they don’t get much time to play. So I tried to appoint some sport teacher for them who will come regularly to coach them and thus children mind will not go on doing these types of pranks. But I could not find appropriate person for them. Hence I came up with idea to organize a sports event with the help of their teachers and care takers. The competitions like Racing for different age group, Kho-kho (regional games played in teams), Chess, Langadi Competition (hoping on one leg) etc. Approximately 200 girls and boys participated in competition from both the institutes. Since this was announce one month before the competition day so the kids started preparing for it. There energy was utilized in positive manner. The relation between the care takers, teachers and children improved. People from neighborhood enjoyed it by peeping out from their window.
The winners were honored by giving gifts, sponsored by CSA on Republic Day (26th Jan. 2012) I hope the care takers, guards now understood, what they have to do is channelize their energy for positive outcome.
Laxmi (name changed) was abandoned by her birth parents when she was just a year old. She was found by the Police and admitted to the SASOON Government Hospital in Pune. Mentally challenged, Laxmi was moved to an institute in Pune. The institute’s efforts to help her develop, unfortunately did not work; she had multiple disabilities. Today Laxmi is 10 yrs. old. She can use her hands to some extent but she has never walked! She understands Marathi but cannot speak.By a High Court Order, Laxmi was recently transferred to the State home for girls run by State government. Earlier a residential arrangement for adolescent girls, the facility was recently, converted into a Home for Special Needs’ Children. In terms of special arrangements that such children require, the Home has none! CSA has helped the Home in many ways in terms of enhanced facilities as also, training and awareness programmes for Childcare and Social Workers. In one such initiative having provided surgical equipments like wheel chairs and walkers, we tried helping those kids who could not walk. Laxmi was one of those children.When the walker was placed before her, Laxmi was very confused and nervous. Soon however, she stood, balanced herself and actually took her very first step! The joy on her face (that beautiful broad smile) had to be experienced; it gave tons of happiness to my heart! I am used to seeing her sitting in a corner with a sad and disturbed expression. This is the first time I saw her smiling. I hope this is her first step towards HOPE! I will watch her closely and always help her all the way. Her success will be my achievement!
The Observation Home for boys in Pune, Maharashtra, has approximately 200 destitute children in the age group of 7-17 years. Many of them are orphans; some have a single parent; others are children whose parents have been convicted and are serving jail terms; a few are those who themselves have been booked for juvenile delinquicy. All of them come from a poor economic background.
The home has an in-campus school that provides education up to the 7th grade. Thereafter, the boys are transferred to other institutes. Since last 3 years however, at the initiative of the Management of the home, some of the talented children are being retained in the Home; they are admitted to the 8th, 9th and 10th grades in nearby schools. The management felt that there was an opportunity to nurture some very talented children and help them in their development.
CSA's objective being the optimisation of rehabilitation outcomes for institutionalised children, the decision of the Home to retain some talented children was encouraged. CSA provides the educational support to these older kids. CSA started a coaching class to help the kids with their syllabus. In addition, CSA introduced vocational training for the children who are conflict with Law and are out of the mainstream of education. CSA started a tailoring unit and dance classes, so that the children acquire skills that could perhaps, offer employment opportunities to the children when they reach adulthood. .
CSA also, aims at ensuring that the children are happy and are exposed to some of the small joys of life that are considered normal. Accordingly, CSA planned activities such as summer camp, festival celebrations, Awareness programs, Hobby classes, children’s day celebration, games, competitions etc.
A significant achievement is that, as compared to 1 and 2 students respectively, who were able to complete their schooling by passing the 10th grade in earlier years, in the year 2010, 9 children cleared the 10th standard exams; one of them, Umesh Lawande scored 80% marks and is now pursuing a Diploma programme in Engineering.
CSA’s aid to help the upcoming higher education students to help themselves will continue, along with the joyful events to spread happiness in the life of this deprived kids. We are aiming at individauls who can be nurtured into becoming independent individuals as adults.
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