“U & I can make a difference” is a mantra we have been chanting from day one. During the 7 days of justice, we got a glimpse of the extent to which we can make a difference together, and as always it blew our minds! We set out to complete four projects - make a short film with the Oasis boys, give the Government Home a complete makeover and to help Auto Raja & PROvision Asia with the incredible work they are doing. The U&I team along with some volunteers from the UK set out the make the Justice week happen.
Day 1 started with a video shoot with the English Class boys from Oasis. We interviewed each one of them asking them about their dreams and aspirations. It was interesting to see life through their eyes. Lives that have probably seen a greater struggle than we ever have. A life where football is almost a religion and nothing can be more exciting than that pair of football shoes! The dreams these kids have are not very different from ours - they want to be CEO’s, engineers, pilots and football players. On Day 4 we took Ranjit (one of the boys ) for a day trip to ‘Think3’ (a software company) were he got to play CEO for a day.
Day 2 and 3 were days of a lot of hard work and also a lot of fulfilment for everyone who was a part of it. The plan was to give the Government home a complete makeover! Our amazing volunteers painted, cleaned, scrubbed and washed and brought a little bit of heaven down on earth for the boys. We also had medical professionals look at the boys individually and administer medical care. “We made sure we gave as much support, education and training to those volunteers who would be able to continue with the treatment plans we’d started”, said Matthew Brierley, an osteopath from our UK team. By the end of the two days we were surprised at the change we saw in the Home! “Looking back at how the Government Home was when I first came here a year ago, and how it’s magically transformed now, just leaves me in awe”, said Gina, a regular volunteer with U&I.
Day 4 began with a 6 am football game where some of our volunteers played football with the kids from the Doddigunta community. This was followed by a day long shoot with our very own heroes from English class - Ranjit and Shrinivas. From shooting at a slum to running around Commercial Street holding up traffic, this day was definitely tough yet exciting. “It was hard work, but sooo much fun as well.” said Mark Sherratt, professional photographer. “We filmed in some really interesting places that I would never normally go to,” he continued, “including slums, shops and offices and it was great fun working with the U&I crew.” We dressed up the boys, and took them to the Think3 office that afternoon. At the office, Ranjit had a chance to sit in the CEO’s cabin, sign a cheque, preside over a board meeting and much more! At the same time, we had another team at the ‘Home of Hope’, spending time with the people there and encouraging ‘Auto Raja’ with the incredible work he has been doing. Raja runs an organization dedicated to rescuing and rebuilding the lives of the destitute and dying people on the streets.
On Day 5 we started out early again to finish the last bit of the shoot at Ranjit’s house. It was great to meet and speak with his family as well. The rest of the day was spent again at ‘Home of Hope’, spending time with people, providing medical aid and just making them smile =) “I learn’t a lot” said Naveen Mahenderan, a regular volunteer with U&I, “ I really enjoyed helping the doctors as well. These were the 7 best days of my life” he added.
Day 6 was spent on the finishing touches at the Government Home.The team finished up the painting and cleaning. It was truly a job well done! “Despite the often smelly and dirty conditions we were working in, it was an amazing and moving experience, and the chance to help so many people was a privilege.” said Matthew.
On day 7 we visited PROvision Asia, an NGO that helps the disabled by providing free mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers. We spent time with the staff at the office helping them with their business plan, helping the patients, and doing some photography for them as well. We spent the afternoon visiting many of the homes of the people who PROvision Asia helps, most of which were in the local slums. It was great to be involved and help PROvision Asia in the wonderful work they are doing for the disabled.
The ‘7 Days of Justice’ would have been impossible without our brilliant volunteers who gave their time and worked incredibly hard to make this event happen. We really appreciate the people who contributed and supported us through it all and we know that none of this would have happened without them. We owe it all to them!
We now truly know that U&I can make a difference in our world. Those were indeed 7 days well spent.