Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Camps' Report 2012


"Every child is special and deserves to achieve and realize his/her growth and dreams in healthy surroundings.  U & I helped in making this a reality at Shishu Mandir.  Shishu Mandir is a school that caters to children from the underprivilaged background . When we first went got introduced to the kids, at first glance they seemed like regular school children prepared to hear lectures from us, but we had no idea how much talent each child was gifted with and were greeted with a bunch of nice big smiles. We spent two days at the school and there is no doubt that wehad a unbelievably life-changing time.  At the Shishu Mandir camp, we focused on getting to know the kids' dreams asand aspirations, what they wanted to pursue as their careers later on in life,and also tried  helping them in realising these dreams. 

On the first day, we conducted an important workshop on how to present oneself at interviews, which was followed by a comical skit depicting the same.The kids loved it and found the workshop very useful. When the first day got over, we were very exhausted but at the same time were very excited to come back to meet the kids the next day. On the second day, we had Career Counselling sessions for the kids. The kids were very responsive and most of them became very clear on what their ambitions in life now were. AtShishu Mandir, a lot of fun and games were the highlight of our days. We played a lot of games and activities with the kids. The one game which had all the kids on their toes was the water game that we played,which put their teamwork skills to the test. One of the major breakthroughs I have personally realized from this camp was that every single child had a unique talent, and this was proven at the main event at the end of the day at the Talent Show where everyone showcased all their talents to the cheering crowd.

Our response form the kids was excellent. "I really enjoyed with U&I. I just loved the way you all interacted with us. I learnt how to manage my time,and this camp also helped me realize my dreams and passions in life. I would also like to work with U&I,"said Preethi. This program was also beneficial for the older kids as well. Anand Babui says,  "This summer with U&I made a huge difference to me.I am a BCom student and the team taught us how to behave in an interview, which I didn't know about.  They also gave us good tips regarding interview assessing and mannerisms. The games conducted helped us work as a group and the discussions helped bring out new ideas. I want the team to come back. The seniors can help us with career planning, and can also conduct a session on how to overcome inferiority complexes.To conclude, our first U&I summer camp at Shishu Mandir was a grand success!"

-Jaison Padacheril, Intern



"When I was first told that we would be working at the State home for Mentally Challenged Boys, I was quite apprehensive because, firstly, I had never worked in an environment like that and, secondly, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle the boys there. What followed at the summer camp however, was an experience beyond verbal description and the complete opposite of what I had expected! U&I held the summer camp at the State home for Mentally Challenged Boys on the 7th, 8th and the 9th of May and I like to believe we made a HUGE difference, the right way, in the lives of these boys.

On the 7th , we took around 45 boys to Cubbon Park for a day filled with fun and games. The boys were super excited and enthusiastic about the entire outing and the happiness was contagious. I could see each intern smiling along with the boys they were allotted to, while the boys indulged in sliding, running, climbing and having an absolute ball of a time on their day out. The train ride kept each of the boys captivated as they held on tightly to the interns and laughed and clapped as the train made its journey around Cubbon Park. They waved at people who they passed by, and at the U&I interns who were standing around. Never before have I seen a bunch of kids as lively and infectiously happy as these boys.  By the end of it all, we were all drained out, but even on the bus journey back, the kids continued to smile and clap and kept the entire atmosphere charged with positive energy. It was a memorable day, both for the kids and for the interns alike. 
On the 8th and 9th ,things got a little more serious as we put aside the playfulness and decided to get down to business. The Home the kids were staying in, was in dire need of cleaning and with the help of a few volunteers,we started our cleaning spree spanning across the dorms, bathrooms, clothes and nurses’ rooms. A bunch of us kept the kids entertained while the others indulged in the dirty business of cleaning up (quite literally,might I add!)
The kids had a whole lot of fun coloring, playing, dancing and mesmerizing the interns with their hidden talents and their contagious happiness. There was never a dull moment in the two days we spent there.  The male interns cleaned the floors and walls of the dorms, bathrooms and nurses’ rooms till they were sparkling clean, while the girls segregated, washed, dried and folded the boys’ clothes, mats, winter wear and blankets. By the end of it, we had made a visible and evident change in the cleanliness quotient of the entire place. With the help of gloves, masks, mops and detergents, we sure had made a difference where it mattered the most for the well-being of the boys.
Thank you,U&I,for helping us be agents of the change we want to see around us!"
-Sheeba Rachel Ninan, Intern


"The Oasis summer camp was held for over 150 kids from the Doddegunta slum on the 16th and 17th of May. The children belonged to the age group of 8-16 years.  We had around forty interns and volunteers engaging them in various games and activities who were divided on the basis of their age groups. The two days which followed were fun, chaotic, memorable and absolute entertainment. 

The younger children engaged in a lot of painting. The interns and volunteers helped the kids make cards and design the cards with hand prints, painted designs and absolutely anything which made the cards look more attractive. The kids had a ball of a time and at the end of it, you could see mutli-coloured hands and painted faces and a smile on every face. The older kids had English assessments to evaluate where their vocabulary and language skills stood at, and what they lacked in the same. After this,they played a series of games like Bang Bang, Bomb the city, Tallest tower and such. Towards the end of the day, we had kids come up on stage and perform, which was a confidence booster for most of them. The first day, despite being hectic, was very satisfactory and a whole lot of fun.

The second day was pretty similar with the kids being divided again,in order of their age. The younger kids had two sessions of Arts and crafts. During the first session we handed kids printed sheets of cartoons and they were asked to colour them. Though it was quite a task making the kids colour within the borders, everyone was involved and absorbed in the activity, and at the end of it, we had many sheets of vibrantly coloured cartoons and each kid was proud of his/her work of art,just as much as we were,of theirs. The second session was after lunch where the kids were given cut-outs of masquerade masks and added sparkles, paints and newspaper cut-outs to make the masks look fancy. The older kids had another session of assessments and they again had a series of games and a talent show to again bring out their talents. The talent show was the grand highlight of the two days,and served as a fitting finale.

At the end of two days,everyone went home with a smile, a memory and an assurance that they had made a difference in some kid’s life."

-Sheeba Rachel Ninan, Intern



"On the 21st and 22nd of May,all of us went to the Crisis Intervention Center which basically houses destitute women, or women who have been rescued from all sorts of atrocities and women who have nowhere to go. It was a life-changing experience for me to go and interact with these women,especially since I am a guy. I learnt how strong women can be in the face of adversities and the unfair way in which society treats them. It’s an unsafe,dangerous world for them,and women are constantly armed with strength and spirit and courage. I saw it in these women over the course of these two days.

We engaged in arts and crafts where we made baskets,shoe boxes and wall hangings with them. We also played several games and danced a lot to popular music.During the career-based sessions,I was amazed at their ability to dream big and have the will to rise above their limitations. While participating in individual counseling talks,I found that many were not only vocal,but actively working towards their dreams in some small way or the other. While taking assessments,I saw how the women were aware of their weakness,but chanelled it positively with their eagerness and enthusiasm to learn.
I have learnt SO much from them,and for me,these two days were absolutely unforgettable.
I know I’ve made a difference,and as they always say, U&I can really make a difference!"

-Samuel Gladson, Intern



"The summer camp at the Balakya Vidya Mandir held on the 23rd and 24th of May, was kickstarted with icebreakers and music and games. After pre-assessments were taken, the children were given a career-oriented session which focused on the various options they could avail of, given their circumstances. The response was extremely positive as each of the girls were given individual counseling following the session, following which,a potential career direction was given to all of them.
The fun part soon followed when they engaged in arts and crafts with bangle-making and colouring and making photo frames. The smiles on each of the girls faces was absolutely heart-warming!
Day 2 saw an even more energized bunch of children who were again assessed so that we could better evaluate their educational and grammatical strengths and weaknesses. After a fun-filled team activity,they  enthusiastically participated in a personalized KBC game of sorts.The nail pinting,tattoo-making and hair braiding that took place after lunch was imaginably the most well received by the girls, and marked the end of yet another life-changing and inspiring camp for them.

What I loved the most about this camp was the fact that each of these girls had a story of their own to tell,and needless to say,they were largely dark ones. In spite of their troubles,they were all smiles,always cheerful,and seemed to possess a never-say-die spirit. Just as they learnt from us,we learnt from them,and sometimes I daresay that we went home more grateful and awestruck than they did."

-Gleeda D’Silva, Intern


"30th May and 31st May were the two days when we went to Karunalaya where we were met by an enthusiastic bunch of kids who were also very well-behaved (yes,this was a pleasant surprise to us!)
With energy levels high and buzzing and with all sorts of games and activities to keep our-starry eyed leading ladies and gentlemen smiling,we went ALL OUT in our last and final camp!!
Our team building activity was currazy! We actually formed the largest live caterpillar I have ever seen,and boy did they love it!

Then there was painting and coloring and letting imaginations and dreams soar wild beyond their horizons!
We even had a dream canvas,upon which our lil ones laid their handprints over. They then wrote their dreams over them and added lots of colour and glitter to it! It was absolutely mind-blowing!
Kudos to the interns and volunteers,and thank you U&I,for this opportunity!I loved every moment of it!

-Agrata Varma, Intern


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Camps! =)

It’s 10:30 am at the U&I office, and the only company I have is an annoying Saahas Patil who describes himself as always, as “punctual, hot, masculine, hairy, seductive and sexy”. Yes he ACTUALLY asked me to write all of that!
Anyway, it’s quite eerily quiet out here.
No summer interns.
No over-achieving Simran to run the wheels of the summer camp, no Sadhana and Ektha and the hot and happening Jono to rise up the temperature by a few notches. And here’s the worst part, NO SUMMER CAMPS! L

I’ll miss ALL the awesomesauce interns,each of them adding a splash of colour and vibrance to the summer camps in their own unique manner. I’ll miss Vanilla and Sushmitha and Pappu and Karthik. I’ll miss Ajit,Satish,Sudeepta,Such,and maybe Saahas too. I’ll miss the lunches and the activities and the planning meetings and Urban Solace’s free food. More than anything else however,I’ll miss the friends I’ve made,the relationships I’ve grown to love,and the itsy bitsy teeny weeny difference that each and every one of us has made in the lives of those children. As Ajit always says – for us,it may have been just one amongst many summer camps,but for those kids out there,those were THE most fun,impact-driven,and life-changing moments ever. For those kids out there,it was a passport to dream their dreams,regardless of how currazy and wild and seemingly impossible as they were.
And guess what?
YOU made that happen.

It was just one summer,one month,seven camps,and around four hundred kids whose roads you’ve helped pave towards a brighter tomorrow. And it’s only just the beginning friends,Romans and dirtymen. It’s only just the beginning.

Oh and also, you’re welcome Saahas :P