The Buds n Colors camp for the year 2013 was organized with the theme “Dream BIG” and was organized specially for orphan adolescents between the age group of 13 and 17 years. This was a Residential camp for 4 days at Yercaud, Salem.
One of the sessions on the 4 days camp was on BUILDING SELF ESTEEM. The exercise was designed as writing a poem. The participants were guided through the exercise and were encouraged to document every instance (including both joy, sad, memorable moments etc) in the poem. The oneness in the group was facilitated through the exercise. Though it raised emotions, the members support for one another helped the participants gain the courage to share the poem in open.
After the end of the session, children expressed the following
“Until I came here, I thought the problems in my family is big, but in the sharing I could learn there are more severe problems affecting my friends and my problem is not too big for me”- an adolescent who recently lost her father.
“When I wrote the poem, though it brought some of the things that I often suppress in my heart, it ended with the note of what I aim to be and I understood unless I bring those emotions that suppress me, I would not be able to move ahead”- an adolescent boy who lives with his widowed mother
“I often worry about my HIV status and sometimes I would ask why only me, but today when I could share my poem in open and finally mention what I aspire to be in the poem, I realised that the status will no more put me down, because I have friends who are there to support me now”- expressed by an HIV positive adolescent.
Following this, to encourage each other and how inner strength is more beautiful than the external or physical beauty, a session was conducted among the participants to list down what they feel about themselves. The group members themselves tried assessing the statements.
The most staking response following the session was “I hated myself, especially because of fat changes affecting my chin and face region, thus changing my facial appearance. Even the medication has resulted in skin darkening” - expressed by an HIV positive adolescent girl. Following the session, she expressed that “yes, now I am able to accept the changes, what is more important, what I would achieve in my future. Physical changes are temporary” - the same girl expressed vehemently.
Over 50 Orphan Children at Buds of Christ were thrilled and excited with the sweet memories of the smiles and joy that was brought into their lives, who have been part of the Buds n Colors camp held last year. The camp was a residential camp to reflect oneself more deeply and understanding the special qualities in each one. Though the camp started with many young children crying leaving their caretakers for the first time, it became a place of joy that no child has ever experienced in their lives so far.
For many campers, this has been the first time experience of being together, getting related to one another and being in the company of one another, thus building a relationship of being part of one big family. The support the older campers gave to the younger ones, grooming the smaller campers and ensuring their safety was something that just was brought in without anybody teaching or instructing them.
The songs, dance and value based reflections was the most enjoyable moment for the campers in instilling the spirit of joy and building trust among one another. It even thrilled us in seeing the shyest ones waving their hands and dancing to the songs, as their peers coaxed them to join.
The carnival time, the camp fire and the stage night were events that helped the campers the volunteers to exhibit their creativity and reasoning skills. These events proved to be another milestone to many campers who have not presented or even attempted themselves in a big gathering. It was another exciting experience for the organizers to witness the silent ones dancing, playing skits and singing songs.
The Group sharing sessions and night reflections revealed how much of verbal and physical challenges, each child has to go through especially children living with grandparent and widows. The sharing though was very emotional brought in a lot of strength among the campers that nobody else can provide.
“Truly Buds N Colors Camp added color to my life” – Ajith – 12 year old orphan boy living with HIV
“I was rejected by my own relatives and cousins because my parents died of HIV and AIDS, but at Buds N Colors Camp, I am loved by everyone. All orphan children like me should experience this” – Elamurugan, 13 year old orphan boy
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