It was a Sunday like no other. Not the typical sleeping in-laze around-go out-meet friends kinda weekend. Spoorthi, an annual cultural extravaganza for special children, was being held by Youth for Seva. I had signed up as a volunteer. Little did I know what was in store.
Unlike my usual Sunday routine, I woke up early and went to the school I had been assigned to, along with two other volunteers, Rakesh and Samyuktha. There were ten kids in total; four of their teachers accompanied us. We arrived at the venue at 10AM. After breakfast we got the kids to assemble at the respective rooms for their competitions. Abhishek was participating in Yoga, Merlin in Art and Craft, Hithaishi in Fancy Dress, Shashank in Painting, Shrujay in Solo Singing and lastly Mahendra, Chethan, Shabaz, Vishwajeeth and Ranganath were doing a group dance. We were amazed to know that we had a national level Bocce player in our midst. Shabaz Khan has represented Karnataka at the national level Bocce meet. As if that was not enough, we had national level football and baseball players as well. Clearly, there was no dearth of talent in this bunch of kids.
The event began with the host talking about how Paralympic gold medalist Devendra beat his own record in order to keep the promise he had made his daughter – that he would win a gold in the Paralympics if she topped her kindergarten exam. The competitions – Braille reading and writing, pick and speak, quiz, clay modelling, fancy dress, painting, and group dance to name a few- kicked off at half past ten. I took a stroll around the corridor to see the competitions in progress and it was a sight to behold! Paintings that sprang to life, clay models that can put any professional artist to shame, artwork that made you go wow… I can go on and on.
Meanwhile on stage a spectacular mime was being enacted. It spoke of the troubles farmers face and emphasized the need to save water. The kids held up placards that read ‘We need water to live but farmers live for water.’ In light of the present Cauvery water dispute, the act made a lasting impact. After the stipulated duration of competitions was up, participation certificates were distributed to the kids. Merlin’s eyes welled up with tears when she got hers. It was such a heartwarming moment.
We headed for lunch after our school finished their group dance. We were all eating at the ground when all of a sudden our kids gathered around a girl named Srishti and began talking to her. I was wondering if they were perhaps congratulating on some performance of hers only to later realize that she was their old friend. Apparently she had changed schools but they still remembered her!
The prize distribution ceremony was conducted after lunch. Around 40 schools had turned up for the event. Our kids bagged medals in the painting, art and craft, yoga and fancy dress competitions. One boy who had gone to receive the prize for group dance competition along with his team, refused to take it until his mom accompanied him. So much so that he snatched the mike from the host and called out to his mother to come up on stage. Yet another poignant instance was that of a wheelchair-bound boy being lifted and carried to the stage by his mentor to receive his prize. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Each of the kids truly lived up to the tagline of the event, ‘Know me for my ability’.
Was it worth waking up early for? Without a doubt.
A Sunday to remember? You bet.