April 2013
Over the last three weeks, for some 10 children of Deepam West Mambalam, it has been an experience as interesting as it was inspiring. The children were treated to a visit to a Library so near their school that it’s almost like an extension to their class-room.
A few weeks ago, one of our volunteers came to know of a small library in an apartment next to the school where Deepam WM functions. This library – called Sri Chakra Library — is run by Karthik, a young guy who holds Masters degree in English and History and an M.Phil degree too. He is differently abled,having restricted mobility. The volunteers of WM centre got to meet him in April and were impressed with his lively chat.
It was planned to take Deepam WM kids in batches to the Library to get them inspired and to make Karthik happier (he is ever happy with a cheerful smile on his face all the time). We then spoke to the school HM, obtained her permission and left word with Karthik’s mom about our plan to bring few children to the Library on a Saturday. She and her son were only too glad to say ‘Yes’.
All the books in Karthik’s collection have been accumulated by him over the past many years and maintained with loving care. These books are stacked in a neat way. There are books to take you down memory lane, books that you had always wanted to read but never got round to it, books that today’s youngsters would like to read and – this is where Deepam WM and its children come in — loads of books and magazines (in English and Tamil) specially meant for school-going children.
Here’s what Maduravalli ma’am of WM Centerhas to say on how she sold the idea to the children she was sitting with on 6th April and her own experience at the Library.
“This morning, when I was sitting with the six girls of V standard, I announced that if they give correct answers for all the revision exercises planned, then a visit to a library will happen. They got so excited and did unusually well in the revision exercises. Just before the visit, I briefed them about Karthik and asked them to greet him before they start reading the books. The children were visibly happy to do it when we reached there, what with Karthik’s infectious smile having that magical effect. They scanned through the kids’ books that his mom had kept on the table, and picked one each. Though most of them were quite high for their usual reading abilities, they did attempt and when I found a very interesting book titled ‘Colour clown comes to town’, I replicated Deepam’s library session there – reading it out to them and the kids enjoyed it so well. 
“While putting back the books on the table, they noticed that there was a huge Certificate framed and displayed at their sight level. It was the “Young Achiever Award’ given to Karthik by Rotary Club on 26th March this year. It had a short write-up about him and when I read it out to the kids, they came up with an “Aaahh…’ on hearing that he was the school topper in Advanced English and History in his 12th Std Board Examinations.
“Then we all left the ‘mini library’ thanking Karthik and his mom for the wonderful experience. I am sure the kids will remember this day forever. I reminded the children that with a strong will, if Karthik can overcome so many obstacles and achieve this much, they can do a lot more. Even as I am writing these words I am able to recall the wonderful expression that I saw in the eyes of those children today.”
On 13th, another batch of children was taken to this Library and they spent some quality time there for about half-hour, clearly enjoying every single minute of it. And again on 20th, one more visit was arranged, when the children wished to have a photograph taken with Karthik.
Karthik himself was so happy that, in his mail to Madhu ma’am, he wrote,
“i am karthik  i run a lending library at home madhu mam made my house a learning hub  by bringing  the kids here they catch wat is being taught  very fast and are very bright madhu mam  at the end of the class always asks the kids to read a caption abt me but she is energetic and enthusiastic as kids and her friend vasanthi mam is also an amazing person over all whole team is doing great job proud to do my bit”
And the children?As always, when sitting with books, they were quite excited and so it was during every visit. After exchanging greetings with Karthik they would proceed straight to the section allotted for them (a sofa / table on which books are neatly arranged and kept) – where they are sure to find many of their favorite titles.
Even long after the visit, their excitement would linger on, eyes alight.Probably with the thought of the story they’d just read or because they’ve found a treasure trove and a friend just next door.

Deepam VRS Scholarships 2012-2013

2012-13 was the second year that the “Regional Grand Lodge of South India Charitable Trust” came forward to support the Scholarship program at VRS center.  We were delighted when the Trustees agreed to come to school and give away the scholarships to the children. It was the last Deepam session on April 13th, and the Year-end assessment had started early for the Basic, Intermediate and Advanced groups.
With the children busy with assessment and out of the way, few volunteers arranged the Certificates and covers in order, and got the stage set for the chief guests.  When they – Mr.Rajan Sekri, Mrs.Sekri and Mr. Sivakumar –  arrived, there was a quick round of introductions, and everyone assembled for the event. The school teachers were seated on a bench and the parents of the 6 scholarship recipients on another.  Volunteers preferred to stand at the back, each with a cell phone camera ready to click away. After welcoming the guests and highlighting the activities of the Trust, Abhishek Mundhra requested Mr Sekri to address the gathering. The next 15 minutes were delightful with Mr Rajan Sekri packing words of advise and encouragement, in a jovial and spirited talk that was interrupted many a time by loud claps..He endeared himself to the kids and volunteers alike with his spontaneous wit. Following this, the six recipients of this year’s scholarship (Jenith, Uma, Keerthana, Vaishali, Poongavanam and Shranya) were called out to receive the certificate from the Principal and the scholarship of Rs.3000 from Mrs.Sekri.  Four other deserving children (Nitish, Dhinisha, Akhila and Swetha) were given a reward of Rs.1000 each in recognition of their consistent efforts. The guests had brought chocolates for the children which were also distributed .
Meantime, another well wisher of Deepam, Ms.Amritha who had earlier donated a huge haul of stationery and colours, was called upon to give away crayons to all the children, delighting them further. Then, Uma and Jenith, both scholarship recipients,  spoke a few lines about Deepam and how much they liked the weekend classes. The parents were visibly moved by the gesture, and thanked us profusely.  It was time for the group photographs and more smiles. The chief guests left soon after, having graced a simple but significant occasion for the kids and volunteers of Deepam VRS. We know deep down that the scholarship kids will continue to do well in the higher classes and will recall this day with pride.

Featured Volunteer for the Month of Feb’13

Satish from KC center is our “Featured Volunteer for the month” for Feb ’13.

A small write-up about Satish…

“Satish has been volunteering for almost a year now. He is very regular, always smiling and the kids take to him like anything. He works through friday nights to come to the classes on saturdays. Despite having visited radio stations three times earlier, he enthusiastically took part in KC centre’s outing to the FM radio station for the sake of kids. He has also brought in a wealth of material in english that can be effectively used in all centres. He has also got e-copies of the Amar Chitra Katha tales. We have this habit of kids introducing existing volunteers to the new ones. Whenever this happens, kids vie with each other to introduce Satish, making famous among them”

Featured Volunteer for the Month of Mar’13

Praveen Kumar from WM center has been awarded our “Featured Volunteer of the Month” for Mar’13

A short write-up about Praveen…

“K Praveen has been with us for more than a year. His attendance has been very regular and participation as enthusiastic as the children. He has always been ready to carry out whatever out-of-the-way requests we make of him (his help in Library books data entry is one such), after sleepless nights (due to his office shift hours) he is among the first to arrive on Saturdays (and among the last to leave), has been diligently taking care of the video session week after week, has been showing tremendous amount of responsibility”

Deepam Outstanding Volunteer – 2012

At Deepam, all volunteers have been doing and continue to do what they like doing, what comes to them naturally, and they are doing it exceedingly well. They get really rewarded every time they are with children, every time they see a smiling face of a child.
Deepam’s Outstanding Volunteer Award is given to volunteers whose performance in the year has made a difference, made people take notice and follow their examples.
Deepam takes immense pleasure and enormous pride in acknowledging and sharing with everyone such splendid performance by such volunteers by honoring them with this Award. In the past 4 years, as many as 13 volunteers have received this prestigious Award..
A few words about the Recipients of Deepam’s Outstanding Volunteer Award for year 2012.
1.      M Sugumaran of Olcott Center – He has infused fresh blood, fresh thoughts and fresh mindset among his team. His mails exude enthusiasm in its every sentence. Dynamic and self-confident, he sets for himself seemingly unrealistic targets and surprises everyone by achieving them! He organized the first-ever Sports event at Olcott Centre. His ever-cheerful manner and how-can-I-help attitude are contagious and these have helped him in increasing regular volunteer strength at Olcott Centre to more than 10.

2.      Vedavalli of KC Center – She is a regular volunteer at Deepam for over 3 years now andlikes to keep a low profile. She has been an embodiment of patience and perseverance. To reach her Centre, run at a community hall in Kakkan Colony, she has to overcome many obstacles, some of them she has to literally side-step. Undeterred by these and otherimpediments, shepersisted and has successfully kept the classes going regularly. She has now built a team of over 10 regular volunteers at the Centre. Last year, she initiated scholarship program for the children. Her interest in the children does not stop with teaching them computers or language – her concern for them extends to upliftingtheir conduct, attitude and behavior.

3.      Maduravalli of West Mambalam Center–A volunteer who has been associated with Deepam and its activities for well over 4 years, she is passionate in whatever she does and assertive without sounding superior. She can get things done without being demanding, is strict with children and yet their favourite, competent of handling complex problems and always open to others’ views. She is ready and willing to take on any assignment, however challenging, if only it will eventually benefit the children.Right now, with support from other volunteers, she is spearheading the project of making a perpetual Curriculum for all Deepam Centres