"To be safe, to be together, and to be happy - what else can we ask for during these tough times...", says an elated Manju (name changed to protect privacy), when asked about her lockdown experience. "This is an altogether different vacation, but we are still enjoying it", she comments.
The children of ATMA Gurukulam were right in the midst of their final exams when a nation-wide lockdown was announced at the end of March. The exams were postponed, and suddenly everything that was considered 'normal' was no longer so. The children were used to an eventful summer holidays, with camps, outings, movies, and special trainings in dance, music, painting, english, and so on. Suddenly, they were faced with the possibility of a rather long holiday season with none of these activities.
Fortunately, Ms Parvathy and Ms Jisha, both teachers and ATMA volunteers, were already staying at the Gurukulam, as part of the exam preparations, along with the child welfare officer Ms Sreena. With guidance and support from Mr C K Suresh, Director, and Ms Sangeetha, ATMA Volunteer and Research scholar, the team chalked out a plan to make the holidays fun and useful for the children. It was important to boost the children's morale and to keep their minds off the fear and hysteria created by the pandemic.
The daily routines were reworked, with additional thrust on breathing excercises, yoga, and creative activities. A learning plan was also formulated for each child. Many fun activities were devised, with inputs from the children. They played a lot, lounged about a bit, read books, dreamed, acted out small skits, danced and sang. They also included in their daily routine, a prayer for the well being of the world.
On the whole, the five weeks of total lockdown was a celebration - their creativity was unlocked, and they are all the more happier for it!
Now, schools and colleges have reopened with digital learning modules. ATMA has taken care to provide the children with the required facilities and devices so that each child can access the learning opportunities without hitch and make the best use of online resources. ATMA teacher-volunteers have started supporting the children through online sessions.
Even as they send up another prayer for the world, the children are also using this as an opportunity to work on themselves to build their dream future.