” Volunteering at CRY, across the schools, the children we met year on year, the events we conduct, the campaigns, the fundraising, Soccer for Child Rights, Ride for Rights, the familiar yellow and black logo, proudly displaying the CRY badge on my bag, the anecdotes, summer camps, all it never fails to put a big smile on my face. I distinctly remember how it all began. Full of ideas, brimming with excitement after my induction at CRY on the August of 2016 I was at school a couple of weeks later for my first ever meet and there has been no looking back ever since. Working with children has its own charms. I keep marvelling at their curiosity towards everything, their innocent questions, their innovative ideas, the talent that every child exhibits and in the process, relive my childhood, uninhibited and precious.
I remember a certain child who took it upon himself to train children from smaller classes when his partners for a group activity were absent and how proud he was to have led and guided them. I remember groups dividing tasks amongst themselves and collaborating in an exemplary fashion. I remember for a Drama event one child improvised his act without any assistance from any of the volunteers. I distinctly remember how the children took the lead during the community walk in Nellarupuram, Bangalore and urged their classmates to join school who had dropped out of school. And it was last week at the ArtSpark Foundation’s session when the children were asked to make self-portraits I saw a couple of kids adding glasses and long hair to their portraits. When I intervened asking this does not look like self-portrait they replied to me that they would like to be like me when they grow up! I was awestruck and happy, happy to have done something right to inspire the children.
Volunteering with children comes with its own set of challenges. It requires patience and persistence. Certainly, you cannot scream and shout to reach out to children. Through volunteering, I have discovered how to manage when things go haywire that never involved raising my voice. Children come with short attention span and I think I have learnt how to tap this and ensure activities or tasks we have at school are short but effective. Appreciation works wonders and so does the thrill in your voice even if that means being melodramatic. Many volunteers have often spoken about language being the biggest hurdle. I beg to differ. Yes, it always helps to set the tone of a session towards the beginning and thereafter language plays no hindrance. I ask my children the local word for a certain English or Hindi word and ask them for explaining and guiding me. Moreover, there are always a couple of children who understand better and they have acted as wonderful mediators wherever language was an issue.
I would have to add that volunteering has helped me better understand the issues that we see around us. It is not easy to eradicate every problem that we encounter and the challenges are multifaceted. Nonetheless, it has widened my understanding and now I know how do I go about a certain challenge, the risks factors and differentiating the rights-based approach from the needs-based approach. ”
– Parikhit Dutta, RF Engineer
Sign up here to volunteer with CRY at bit.ly/Volunteer4CRY