(A blog by ILP Youth Volunteer Yamuna Ambal on her experiences in conducting summer camps for children of brick kiln workers)

May 2015, Thiruvallur , Chennai

When we entered the class of 60, which consisted of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, we were a bundle of nerves. All of us were volunteering from ILP to help SSA and IRCDS conduct a summer camp for the children of brick kiln workers. The main aim of the camp was to motivate children from various age groups to continue schooling as well give them a reason on why education is so vital for all of us.

We had hardly finished our 10th grade, so the task in front of us looked daunting. The children looked tough as nails and looked as if even an adult couldn’t say no to them. So how could we, some children from the city, do such a task???   

On the first day, our job was to introduce them to some simple science experiments…We stepped up to the job and the daunting task turned out to be exciting. Each of us taught two experiments to the kids and each of them varied in terms of what was told. But it was made sure that every corner of science was touched such that we could inculcate interest in the children. Their curiosity perked up our excitement and that gave us more reason to continue to teach them.

Believe it or not ,but these kids were more eager to learn than those who have easy access to education. They listened attentively and never once complained. They easily grasped anything we told them, given that it was explained properly. And the way their faces changed when they understood looked like a light bulb was lit above their head and was a joy to withhold. None of them were dumb; they were just waiting for the spotlight to shine upon their talents. Some of them were even inventors; they played with motors and even taught some of the young volunteers on what one could do with it.

The volunteering was not a teaching experience, rather an enlightening one. We were from the city or in other words “the concrete “jungle” and they were from the lap of nature, the village side. We were part of the fast paced city life where everyone runs and they were from the slow paced village where a summer vacation does mean “summer vacation”. We hardly interact with the nature around us; which consists of crows, pigeons and a few trees; but they see a variety of trees and animals, in and around them. They were children with an unlimited imagination and we were children hooked up with gadgets of the modern world.

It was an eye opener. They were smarter than us even if they didn’t know it. Not because they had access to the internet. Not because they each had a tablet or a Smartphone in their hand. Not because they had access to every leisure possible. But because they knew their environment, nature and most importantly mother earth. And they were children who believed that anything is possible. They had something city bred children would never posses –the “determination” to come up in their life.


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