Celebrations — A Mewat San Diego Story.

 Celebrations as Part of Children’s Lives

Celebrations are  a part of children’s lives everywhere. Here we explore cooperation between a children’s home in India and a school in San Diego, California. In their celebratory cooperation lies a model for the world.

Let us visit the Mewat home. They are like school going  adolescents anywhere else. Circumstances brought these children from different parts of India, under one roof here in Mewat in Haryana an hour’s drive from Gurgaon. How happy are they?

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They have talents. Raju, for instance, is a painter.  All their  walls celebrate Raju’s paintings. What else do they celebrate? I asked them and here are the answers.

(1)  They have dreams and ambitions to celebrate.

(2) They celebrate their friendships  and they have their very own definitions of friendship.

(3) Left to themselves, all except one  would make a film, and make a big celebration out of it.

(4) They have fierce loyalties to celebrate . Those  are the things some of them will  do when they grow up and are settled

(5) Then, of course,  they have this celebration of a partnership which they call the celebration of celebrations.

But in many ways, they are luckier than  most children. They live in a five-acre villa with ample space and facility for outdoor and indoor games, exercises. While their class and school mates live in smaller homes or huts or in cramped tiny flats.

They have live in teachers and mentors to support them in their studies. They have computers and computer trainers.

They are also part of a unique and fun-filled international collaboration. Every year they go through a four day, “heaven on earth” experience. They wait for and speak about it every day of the year.

Celebration of Dreams and Aspirations

 

Their teachers are happy that two of their students have won government scholarships  and got admission into engineering courses. In fact, the two have moved into government hostels.

Vikas (18) wants to be the best engineer. Ankit (16) too wants to become an engineer. He wants to make buildings and bridges across India, like the legendary Mr. Sreedharan.

The 16-year-old  and much talented Raju, who doubles as the resident artist and painter  wants to become a professional designer and painter.

Karan at the age of 15 wants to become a car mechanic and he wants the requisite training. Radhe Shyam (17) also wants to be an auto mechanic. The Mohit from Araria wants to become a mechanical engineer. Sonu (18), a brilliant student who scored high even when the state had very poor results, wants to be an electrical engineer. Sonu and Munna Alam (also 18)  are  already an engineering diploma students. Same is true for Munna Alam.

Mohit (16) wants to become a veterinary doctor.  This class 9 student has his heart in animal welfare. “Lot of animals die because no one cares for them” he rues.

Amarjeet at 14 wants to become a cricketer and all-rounder who bats and bowls. But he knows he may not make the grade, as there a lot of competitors. What is the harm in dreaming he asks. If he does not become a cricketer he will become a reporter.

Shiva wants to be a dancer but would also work as an IT specialist. For Salim any job would be fine.

Ankit (11)  wants to become a physical instructor, while his brother Praveen(9) wants to become a doctor. They are new entrants and are from Mewat itself.

 

Celebrations  of Friendships

For Raju, the artist,  Ritik is his best friend, because he helps him in everything. “Har kaam me sath deta hain“. Karan has the same thing to say about his best friend Praveen. For Vikas Azhar (earlier) and now Govind are his best friends. Mohit finds Lokesh as the best student. Amarjeet says Deepak his school friend is very helpful.

For Mohit from Araria, Saddam is his  best friend.  Saddam is a good student and very helpful he says. Sonu says Mohit is his best friend for his consistent behavior and for his compassion. For Munna Alam  Gopal is his best friend, because he helps him in time , stood with him in the hour of his need. Gopal also makes him understand things.

For Shiva, a friend in need is a friend indeed and that is Shonu. Ankit says Shiva makes him laugh and tells him  stories . ” He makes sure that he is happy. The eleven-year-old Ankit needs it because  he recently lost his father.  For Ankit’s brother Praveen, meeting Shiva was his best day. The two brothers are under the care of  Shiva therefore. Salim gives credit to Lalit and Suraj for their great behavior and attitude towards him. Radheshyam insists that everyone there is his good friend.

Celebrations  through Film they are dying to Make

If he was allowed to make a film Vikas would  make a film that says what children like him and his friends  go through in today’s world. Karan has similar thoughts too. His film will show,  where do these children come from  and what is happening to them. Mohit would focus on all the city children, their problems, and prospects.Munna Alam wants to make a film  that will help children reunite with their family. It will also help adults realize what children go through.

Sonu will focus also on children. But he will cover those organization who really help and those that are just fraud. Shiva will focus on child beggars. Everyone should know what the begging children will go through. “I want the world to see what they go through. Allowing children to beg is a sin.” says Shiva.

Raju being the artist will go for a bio pic of himself. Salim too wants to tell his own story Ankit loves Kungfu so he will make a film on Kungfu. Mohit from Araria will go for an action movie. Praveen the youngest of all want to direct Salman Khan in a movie.  Interestingly in his  film Salman will be a “Kasai”, a butcher.

Celebration of an International Partnership

Now we come to the most exciting part of our story. They are all part of an interesting international collaboration. There is a week that they wait for. A week when they have permission to celebrate. The week the Bishop’s school children visit them.http://www.bishops.com/page

Children from another world come. They celebrate their festival. We celebrate ours. This international partnership between Bishop’s School in Los Angeles and Project Concern International sustains this Mewat home.

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Children in Bishop’s school are not just happy giving them money, they come to see their friends and celebrate with them. Every year a batch of students come with the permission to be happy. The Mewat children wait for them eagerly. “They celebrate and show off their festivals, like Christmas. We celebrate with them our festivals of Holi and Diwali and we have lots and lots of fun. They also watch together films like Chak de India.

Those four days nobody wants to sleep. A didi comes to life and there is plenty of smiles, laughter, and gifts.Mewat children happily and fondly rattled off the names of their buddies. Matty, Christine, Meghan, Eileen, Ryan, Maddy  so go the names.

Celebrations A Happy Formula for World’s Children

In this celebratory four days,  we have a happy formula for the world. Should we not have more schools and organizations and groups partnering with children’s homes everywhere. Not just Bishop’s school in California, schools, and groups much closer home should adopt and be friendly with a children’s home, support it throughout the year and celebrate with them for four days. This could be also a model for celebration for CSR initiatives. Imagine if every corporate entity in the world adopted one children’s home. This is the question that PCI would like to ask the schools of India, the service clubs of India and of course every responsible corporate entity.https://www.pciglobal.org/india/

Such celebrations have their own rules and rubrics. (1) It has to be a celebration of equals. (2) the only agenda should be  “to be happy”. (3) The experience must be a happy memory for both groups.

Celebrations of Loyalties and Future Commitments

Their story is not complete until we mention the deeper commitment some of them have expressed in their conversation.

Sonu 18, one he is settled in a career seriously wants to look for his home which he left behind many years ago. Munna Alam in future wants to help children in need, especially children who had a  past like him, separation and abandonment. Shiva 13 says he will look for his sister Durga. His mother had left home because she was mercilessly beaten.

Radheyshyam will come back again and again to the Mewat home to make sure that it is functioning well in future too.