Deepam VRS center – Madras Day outing

As part of the Madras Week celebration across the city, there was an exhibition at the CP Art Center, Alwarpet. There were paintings, sculptures and models, describing Madras as it was many centuries ago, and chronologically tracing its history down the ages, until the British took over.    Today, VRS center kids were treated to a one-hour outing of this exhibition about the Madras Region before the British.  Our group of 18 kids and 5 volunteers reached there in ten minutes, after finishing off with the English session by 11.30 AM  Earlier two volunteers had checked the place to ascertain if it would be appropriate for our ten year olds. We were lucky to get one of the organisers to give the children a guided tour of the exhibition. He patiently explained all the facts in Tamil, pausing now and then to query them on some interesting facts..such as the origin of the word ‘Catamaran’, or how ‘Mylapore’ got its name.  Few visitors joined our group to benefit from the guided tour, and some friendly onlookers asked the kids which school they were from. For their part the kids were very well behaved, and attempted to understand the context of the exhibits. We relished the short outing as well as the sweet five star that was handed out at the end to each of us.
Here are some pics of the short and sweet Madras day outing.

“Featured Volunteer of the month” for Jun’13 – Balaji

Balaji from KBM center has been awarded the “Featured Volunteer of the Month” for Jun’13

A short write-up about Balaji from Prasanna (Center head for KBM)

“Balaji has been a regular volunteer ever since we started our KBM center. He has gone one step further from just being a regular volunteer and be a inspiration for all others. His level of interaction and involvement with the kids is always amazing. Never have I heard the word NO / NOT POSSIBLE from him, always willing to do anything and everything for the smooth functioning of the class. Has been a pleasure having him @ KBM and hope he inspires more volunteers in the years to come.”

“Featured Volunteer of the Month” for Jul’13 – Sindhuja

Sindhuja from Olcott center has been awarded the “Featured Volunteer of the Month” for Jul’13
A short write-up about Sindhuja from Sugumaran (Center head for Olcott)
Sinduja is always present, smiling and contributing.  She has evolved well over the last year to take on more responsibility at Olcott. She has not only contributed individually, but also brought her friends and relatives along to Deepam

She is a law graduate and her works portrait the same in taking bold decisions and confidence in arguing for a valid point from her side. Her boldness reflects on our kids to enable them in walking a step ahead. A recent example was during a team segregation, where most of the kids preferred to join with her team

She led the initiative in preparing the curriculum from Olcott’s end during May month along with her friends. She also worked on the field to prepare an assessment plan for this academic year”

“The selfish act of volunteering “(by Karthik Padmanaban -volunteer @ VRS center)

The selfish act of volunteering 

 Volunteering is a bit of a selfish act. At least, it is that way for me. Most people perceive it to be some altruistic service that we offer others, typically to some subset of a society who have not been as fortunate as us. However, it is so further from the truth that I am taking this chance to set the story right.

 I only gain whenever I go to Deepam, and gain tremendously.

 First – the warmth. The effect of a simple 2 hour interaction with a bunch of mischievous and innocent children is nothing short of therapy to an otherwise crafty corporate week that just spun past. The noise and giggles are music departed from the clicking keypads and obtrusive phone rings. Have no doubt – the welcome we get and the good mornings that we receive are as genuine as it gets. Soak it in.

 Then, we learn. We understand the disparity that exists in our society and the tribulations of children thrust into situations for no fault of theirs. We get to realize how fortunate are to have been gifted the parentage, upbringing, education and resources that we enjoy and very often take for granted – and it puts a lot of our pains and complains in perspective.

 We feel good. Especially when you see a kid who you have been guiding, construct a full sentence in English, read off a book, participate in plays and talk back in confidence, the enveloping feeling is massively rewarding. If the soul needs soup, this is the best kitchen in town.

 Finally, it’s fun! Tremendous joy. The volunteers at VRS are, downright and mildly speaking, a crazy bunch of people who get along like a house on fire.

 We sure come to Deepam to help and teach the kids, and we certainly hope they benefit, but I go back home having gained a whole lot more than I gave.

 – kp

Deepam WM Scholarship 2013

Saturday, 13th July 2013 at 9:45 am, I receive a greeting in English from Ajay – “Good morning sir. How are you ?” and a few minutes later, Jyothi  says, “All these kids are very small !”. This evoked an internal response screaming “They have all grown up !”. Ajay and Jyothi are just a few of them any grown up Deepam Alumni who held the light this day. We invited six such children from yesteryear Deepam West Mambalam and their parents to honour these kids for striving hard in academics despite their various travails. Scholarships were given to them towards their education.

Emotions were running high amongs the kids as it brought back tearful happy memories of the school and Deepam; while Ajay’s grandmother was really proud of his achievement – joyous trinkets down her cheek showing all that the small token meant to them. It was a proud day for every parent present there.

If one side presents the past, the other side of the coin is our current Deepam kids. Flanked by their seniors on one side, and volunteers and parents from the other 3 sides, the wondrous children were all attention to every word, cheer and tear. Though some might have even been overwhelmed, it was as joyous an occasion for them as well. Many of them recognized their ‘annas’ and ‘akkas’, applauding incessantly with tiny hands when they received their awards. Grand promises were made by them to emulate their seniors and be ‘big little stars’ like them.

As we were about to say “phew, what a morning!”, we have RR Sir bringing a red envelope to the front and announcing with his usual finesse an award  for Praveen Kumar for being nominated Volunteer of the Month a few months back. A delightful icing on the cake !!

Volunteers, as always were cheering from the sidelines, pouncing on a rare opportunity to express satisfaction and happiness.

And, so we have six new stars in the Deepam sky …

Deepam Annual Report 2012-13

Hello Friends of Deepam,

Another first, this year at Deepam. We are formally publishing a yearly report on Deepam’s work and Am very excited to share the Deepam Annual Report 2012-13. 

We have attempted to give a true picture of the work done by the volunteer team and yet, keep the format simple. This report was possible only because of the work done by all volunteers over the year. Special thanks to Abhishek, Sugumaran, Prasanna, Vedavalli, Praveen, RR Sir, Anu and Janavi in helping put this report together!

Thanks for supporting Deepam and look forward to your continued support !



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.