The first Offline recreational musical show organized by Chennai Volunteers featured Maestro Murali Krishnan and his percussionist orchestra from Jus Drums. As Chennai Volunteers, they performed for over 250 children from underprivileged schools, special schools and Homes for children with special as well as normal abilities.
This maiden effort by Chennai Volunteers saw all our volunteers pull out all stops and create a morning for our guests to remember. It also helped promote the values of volunteering by creating a dynamic identity for the concept of ‘service hour.’
Apart from all the good cheer, camaraderie, festive spirit and lots of dancing, we at Chennai Volunteers, made some special friends and intend to keep this friendship growing in the years to come.
Enabling students from underprivileged background improve their conversational English skills has now become a focus area for Chennai Volunteers. What started as a pilot-project with some students has today become CV’s flagship project with the core team of volunteers spending an hour with young students regularly, engaging them, motivating them and helping them improve their spoken English skills.
Andrea Jacob, a movement therapist, put a performance by young children for the orphan children and elders who are homed at Madras Seva Sadan.
Mrinalini Shekar of Blue Movement had organized a summer camp for young kids from as young as 5 to 7 years, where the children learnt music and dance and by the end of the camp, put up a show at MSS. The performance was choreographed by Andrea Jacob.
Everyone dressed in Red and White, with their Santa caps, the performance started by carol singing by the children, followed by many dances, by children and Andrea Jacob herself. Apart from this, Andrea Jacob show cased her signature movement styles with children, doing air lifts among many other things.
The team from Blue Movement circle took part as well. The performance was not limited to the stage, and was taken to the audience, where everybody participated, cheering, dancing and singing away to glory.
The young girls studying at MSS also participated and enjoyed themselves very much. While the girls danced and made merry, a volunteer dressed as Santa, came about, mingled with the girls and gave them all toffees pulling them out of his big Santa bag.
By the end of the show, all the volunteers, the young girls and the elderly people of Madras Seva Sadan, along with the staff of the institution, left the place happy and filled with Christmas spirits.
For an entire academic year, the class 6 girls of Madras Seva Sadan School were taught Spoken English by Chennai Volunteers, once a week – every Wednesday. These classes focused on Basic English and the mode would be through storytelling and other methods, different from the ones the girls were used to in the class.
The end of the session was marked by a carnival that was organized for these girls by the Chennai Volunteers. The same hall, where the girls would enthusiastically assemble for their Spoken English classes every Wednesday, was decorated with Balloons cartoon figures. Continuing with the spirit of Spoken English, a big projector was put up for English cartoon movie for the girls. From the many episodes of ‘Meena’ series, two cartoon films were shown where the language was English in the Indian accent, and a social message as a part of the series. Breaking away from the movie, the girls came up and shared their experiences in English, on the sessions and time spent with their favorite volunteers.
The joy of hearing them speak English as a result of these sessions was tremendous. There were also stalls for tattoo making, popcorn and Balloon art, which gave life to the carnival. Snacks and pastries were also distributed as refreshments.
The girls giggled and enjoyed these, standing in lines, and getting tattoos made on their hands. As their teacher puts it, they have never attended a carnival as such, before. Our dear volunteer – Ram also celebrated his birthday with the girls. A cake for him was cut with everybody chorusing happy birthday song for him. Ram had the best birthday ever, as he puts it. He also distributed a goody bag to all of them containing note book and stationaries that the girls could use the next academic year. Armed with shaped Balloons, painted with tattoos and with gifts and snack box in their hands, the girls and the volunteers went home marking a perfect end to a perfect academic session.
Arunodhaya center for street and working children, is an organization that works on intervention programs for children who are out of school and into work. Through various programs, which include creating awareness, after school programs, working with law enforcers and school boards, the organization has managed to keep many children from dropping out of school where the drop put rates have been very high.
During the final exams time, Chennai Volunteers organized a motivational talk session for children from class 10 and 12, from the slum areas of Chennai, all appearing for their exams.The focus of the talk to help them prepare for the exams, better.
The speaker panel consisted of Ms. Prema Kumar – Principal of Lady Andal School, Ms. Vijaya Srinivasan – Ex vice principal of Lady Andal School and Educator and Ms. Walser who has been with the educational system for many years.
Mrs Prema Kumar motivated the children by sharing brave and feel good stories of individuals who have made it large despite their disabilities and backgrounds. Showing the children a larger picture of life where nothing was impossible, and motivating them to learn and grow.
Mrs. Vijaya Srinivasan, who has been an educator, answered questions on how to prepare for exams. How to organize one self, time management for studies, how to answer questions and related. The children found this very helpful and asked many more questions that would help them in writing their exams.
Mrs. Wlaser, a lady who is deep rooted with this segment of society, shared stories closer home and making the children feel more comfortable and at ease. The children went home enriched in their thoughts and more confident and prepared for their exams.
Friends for the Needy, a home away from home for mentally ill and poor women, had a rather special day, when Andrea Jacob – the movement therapist volunteered to spend a day with them.
On a regular routine day, the women take to their vocational training and otherwise go through a dull and dreary schedule. Some withdrawn, some enthusiastic, these women could have done well with some action, both physical and mental.
Andrea Jacob, on the eve of her father’s death anniversary wanted to spread some joy to the people who needed it the most, in the memory of her beloved father. She, along with her mother in law, then decided to volunteer at Friends for Needy.
Armed with a music player and Gym fitness ball, she was all geared up to bring in lots of action to this otherwise quiet home.
On a roofed terrace, that usually is the training place for the women, they gathered to find out what was in store for them today.
Following the rounds of introductions, they took an instant liking to Andrea, as if she was not an outsider at all. Then followed was 2 hours of movement therapy where each and every one participated with individual attention to all. From balancing on the Gym ball, entrusting into Andrea without the fear of falling, they had all begun to relax and enjoy.
Lifting each woman on her back, in order to balance and stretch their backs, Andrea relaxed every one of them. This was followed by some more light stretching exercises. With the music playing in the background, the women moved in circles and dancing in slow rhythmic uniform movements, as guided by Andrea. Finally, all the women were made to relax and lie down on their mats, in a meditating form, while Andrea gave them all personal body messages, and relaxing their tired bodies.All this, with the soft music still playing in the background, and the staff watching on.
Time did have wings, this last one year since Chennai Volunteers started and has completed 1 year of being. Starting from very little volunteers and organizations, a year gathered up about more than 100 active volunteers and partnership with more than 30 organizations. The celebration marked gathering all our volunteers who made this journey possible. Mr Murali Krishnan from Jus Drums school, a dedicated Chennai Volunteer, entertained the audience to his drumming beats and games to keep the audience captivated. A cake specially designed on CV logo, mouth watering snacks and volunteers interacting with each other made up for a wonderful 1 year celebration for Chennai Volunteers.
While the girls of class 6 of Madras Seva Sadan have moved on to class 7, so have our volunteers with them. The Spoken English sessions here, do not just comprise of a class room interactions, but also sharing beyond classrooms. Activities include:
Talks by motivational speakers to keep the girls energetic: Mr. Paul from Little Drop, kept the girls gripped with his inspiring stories.
Charkha session by Ms. Devika: Ms. Devika, a Gandhian by nature, exposed to the girls to a Charkha demo. Something new for the girls, they enjoyed this session immensely.
A higher secondary school situated in the by lanes of mylapore, right amidst the slums, with over 1000 children studying there. An initiative of Altius foundation: Gift a future - that offers an opportunity to support students who need financial assistance for continuing their education, have designed and initiated various educational programs at the school in order to create an enabling educational environment for the children. Supporting this initiative are our volunteers who take out time from their busy schedules and dedicate a couple of hours in a week and teach these children. They use different methods beyond classic classroom approaches to get the children involved. A volunteer also brings along her young son to be a part of the interactive sessions.
On a balmy Saturday morning, our volunteers went visiting some elderly ladies with their laptop and a heart full of care. What followed was a melodious and joyous session of old Tamil songs sung by the residents of the Home. A session facilitated by our volunteers, everybody enjoyed singing. An otherwise reluctant resident, made her way out of her room to the hall where the singing was on, and re-lived her Carnatic music days. Volunteers who were singing all the while, were lost in her melancholy voice.Children who accompanied their mothers, sang some Slokas, and kept to the momentum of the day.