Deepam 1st Anniversary Celebration

“I have not seen a bunch of kids as happy and contented as these kids are ” mentioned Rahul Nayar, as he observed the kids at the Deepam 1st anniversary celebrations. The life of Deepam, these kids made the anniversay a very special day for all of us, who were present at the celebrations. The Nalamdana centre at the olcott kuppam , venue for the event, was charged with enthusiasm and energy – thanks to the kids, the chief guests and the volunteers. 

The MC’s for the event, Basu and Meera, keeping the kids engaged..

 We had a special person talking to these kids on Saturday – Sarath Babu – He was truly ‘one of them’ . As he stood in front , sharing his rags to riches story, one could see the kids getting inspired. The room went silent , as the kids and the volunteers were in rapt attention.

 Sarath interacting with the kids

Kiruba, the other chief guest, in his usual way , engaged the kids with an interesting story and conveyed a nice ‘life-lesson’ across.

It was a  year ago, when Ram , our mentor, suggested we go to govt schools and teach kids there. His point was simple – ‘Lets start small , 2 or 3 of us can go teach at a local school but the focus should be on making an impact ‘ . Since then, he not only taught the kids, but the volunteers as well.

Kids presenting a memento to Ram

Ram announced a scholarship program for kids – 5 deserving kids ( Deepam Stars ) will get all their education expense covered for 2009-2010.

The anniversary cake , cut by the kids

We also had performances from kids – Nalamdana Centre girls mellifluously sang a popular tamil song

These kids can sure shake a leg..

All the winners of the  cultural events were awarded medals. Kids got participation certificates as well.

Its the volunteers , who work tirelessly, who have helped Deepam make an impact. They were awarded certificates as well. Anupama’s commitment to pudhiyador center is outstanding.
Meera who comes to Chennai every weekend, from Bangalore – She and her husband Vijay, teach on saturdays and sundays, every weekend

Archana, who puts in a lot of energy and helped build Deepam, gets the certificate from Ram

The start has been good – The 1st year flew by. It can only get better !

A big thanks to all the kids and the volunteers ! 

P.S More photos can be found here

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MarkYour Calendars-Deepam Annual Day -7th March 2009

First Saturday of March every year Deepam turns another year old.

This year its on Saturday 7th March 2009 that Deepam celebrates its First Anniversary.Its been a roller coaster year- our first year with loads of activities that have kept us busy on all the weekends.Deepam from a 20 member group has more than 200 members on facebook today.New programs have been launched, New centers have been approached and courses have been launched there , reach to several underprivileged students across Chennai city , computer and other resources have been provided to the centers, new activities, additions to curriculum etc etc .All this has been possible only bcos of the dedication and commitment of volunteers off-line and on field.Thank you all for your support!

Its time to celebrate now.None of you needs an invitation as you are all a part of one big “Deepam Family”
So “BE THERE” on the 7th March between 2.00 PM and 4PM to witness the Annual Function of Deepam at Nalamdana Centre, Besant Nagar.Meet all our students from different centers, interact with them, perform with them and take home a bunch of good memories and smile that will last for a long time.Guests are welcome.

Did You Know-what gas is filled in electric bulbs? What do we call the study of birds?

The answer to such similar questions as above unfolded at the Deepam Annual Quiz 2009 that was organized by the volunteers at Nalamdana and Olcott High school this week.

While the quiz at Olcott school had three teams with one volunteer and two kids in every team and Basu playing the quiz master ,Nalamdana had Moorthy and Karthik Narayan from the IQL who were the quiz masters for the day and the centre had five teams with 3 kid in every team,

The quiz had several general knowledge rounds, audio rounds and visual rounds, We had rounds on Indian Epics, On Indian Monuments, Musical Instruments, Famous Personalities etc The kids were eager to know their question and answer them and win more points than others. A big thanks to Anupama, Shwetha, Pramod, Karthik and Moorthy for having helped us with the questions and organizing the various rounds and making them simple yet interesting. Our Quiz masters, scorers and volunteers at both the centers’ again deserve a huge round of applause for making it another success story.

The Irony : The ultimate winners were TEAM A in both the centers’. Special prizes wIll be given to them on the final day of anniversary celebrations on 7th March 2009. If you wish to sponsor this event or any other event do contact us.

PS:The answers to the questions above are Argon; Ornithology

Collaborative Painting- How ideas were spread colorfully on 5 mt of Canvas?

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” is what we at Deepam believe in and on Feb 7th and 8th of 2009 we realised how true this saying is when 40 kids who belong to the three different centre’s participated in the collaborative painting event held by Deepam

This is the story on how the kids grouped together, worked as teams , helped paint a 5 metre canvas in two hours time(1 hour on both the days ) The topics were “Singara” Chennai (Singara means beautiful in Tamizh ) and I love my COUNTRY

Team A at was led by Muthu supported by Tina and Ram.This is their completed Canvas

The team showed two different seasons Chennai ‘s hot summer and the cool rainy season. The kids came up with specific landmarks in Chennai like the local bus stops, Murugan Idly Kadai, Olcott School, Besant Nagar Beach ,St Thomas Mount and to also highlighted the presence and untiy of people belonging to all religion, caste and creed. The kids completed the painting by leaving their handprints on the canvas which was my personal favorite part of the whole painting as it showed how such small hands together completed this large canvas.

Team B was led by Balaji supported by Vijay, Mohan and Anuradha. Their completed canvas is displayed below

The team spent considerable amount of time to decide on what they would represent.Then one of the kids gave the newly constructed Khatipara junction as a landmark which became the crux of the painting. On one side of there was a group making the beach , and others were busy making temples, airport ,Chennai railways and the local Koyambedu Bus Junction.By drawing schools and factories they showed how Chennai has been developing and has become a hub in the southern India. One of my favorite was the Zebra crossing the kids drew – which we the volunteers couldn’t think of.

Team C was led by Vijay at Pudiyathor, our new centre and was supported by Sai.Their completed canvas is displayed below

The team started by drawing a huge map of India and scared the other team which hadn’t still finalized on what they would draw. They had Taj Mahal on one side ( I have visited this place more than twice and yet cant draw it anywhere close to how these kids have drawn) and the national bird and animal on the other side. One the other half of the canvas- the kids had shown how the country has developed from villages to some big cities, IT industry, schools, factories et all. My personal favorite was the whole theme of how they tried to pull in a story of a huge country through such colorful pictures and in just an hours time.

Team D was led by Anupama at Pudiyathor and supported by Noopuran.

The team had several ideas pouring in but also faced a starting problem on how and what to start first.Then finally it was decided that they will show their love for the country with a big heart that connects every other picture about it. They tried to show northern India by drawing a Taj Mahal (The kid who did this needs a big applause- beautiful pencil work with nice shading) southern India with the besant Nagr beach and the Pudiyathor Community, western India through the gateway of India and the Rajastan Pot Balancing Act, eastern India though the dense forests and also drew the national bird and the animal. They completed the canvas by drawing the signs of all the religions and saying “Unity is Strength”- This was my personal favorite.

Finally a wonderful weekend wherein we learnt how each kid thinks differently and worked together as a group and did their best. The competitive spirit helped them try to out-do the others by “Thinking Differently and Doing Differently “ There were brush strokes, finger prints, oil pastels, pencil shading, hand prints et all. Each and every kid- no matter which class they studies in participated and there was not a single kid whose idea was not considered by the others in the group. Everyone worked as a group and the end result showed on the canvas.

One more thing worth noticing was that how these kids looked at the positive side of life. Though they have not been as lucky as many of us in getting our daily needs and living in comfort they presented a very colorful picture of their city and country. None thought of the poverty, traffic, anti social activities or even the slums across India….Hats off to the future leaders of our country. Their dreams seem very positive!

Pictures Courtesy:KK (Karthikeyan) who was the official photographer on both the days.

To participate and fund for the Deepam activities and more importantly “HELP THEM DREAM” join us !

Pudiyathor – a new chapter begins.

Saturday afternoon saw 10 volunteers of Deepam head to Pudiyathor in Besant Nagar. We went there prepared for an ice-breaker to interact with the children. We didn’t need that, they were the most lively (and extremely noisy) group who were eager to climb on us to catch our attention. Pudiyathor is a community center for the children who belong to the adjoining slum. About 30-40 kids of all age groups from toddlers to college kids frequent the center and use this facility whether it be hanging out on weekends for different classes/activities or group studies.

We were introduced to Pudiyathor by Manickam (a senior of KK’s from BITS). Maniks and his father run the show at this centre providing the children with whatever is necessary. They are doing an awesome job for these children by providing them a place to learn new and different things, a place to be themselves, a place to dream and see a wonderful world beyond. The entire team at Deepam is extremely excited and looking forward to being a part of Pudiyathor.

We played a few games with the children with the volunteers enthusiastically joining in. We did the good cop-bad cop routine with Paras and Archana being bad cops as they took on the job of shushing the kids to control the noise level. Balaji and Meera were the good cops who were breaking all the ground rules set by those two. Vijay got the most cheers. All he had to do was just introduce himself! That was because of his namesake in the tamil film industry. Vinay, Swetha and Pramodh completed the set of 10.

As always, the enthusiasm and eagerness of the children towards computers was quite visible in the way they crowded around Paras’s laptop.

For the next 5 months, Sundays 2-4pm at Pudiyathor is open to everyone to volunteer in teaching these children the basics of computers, general awareness and english knowledge.

Deepam- How it Changed “ME” :)

One of Life’s important lessons learnt from the kids who have been a part of Deepam

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it’s given from the heart. When the kids are talking, expressing, there’s no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they’re saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it. Most of us don’t value ourselves or our love enough to know this. It has taken me along time to believe in the power of simple saying, “I’m so sorry,” when someone is in pain. And meaning it. These classes have helped me do that. They have been an eye opener for me in more than one way.

When I was volunteering one of the classes at Nalamdana Perungudi I remember one child who used to have serious doubt on every sentence I was teaching them about MS Word. Initially I got a bit frustrated but later understood that the kid genuinely didn’t seem to have much knowledge and hence was inquisitive to know more. This incident was an eye opener and I learnt my lesson of being patient, listening patiently and again answering patiently.

I have even learned to respond to someone who needs help by just listening to what they have to say. In the old days I used to reach for the tissues, until I realized that passing a person a tissue may be just another way to shut them down, to take them out of their experience of sadness and grief. Now I just listen. It works the same when people are excited with something that has left them happy. Listening to all the good things they have to share and being there beside them is the best gift one can give another. I have been quite a talkative child and now teaching at Deepam has helped me to listen to all the queries, all the stories that the kids have to share. It has also made me change to certain extent at my workplace where I have started listening before I opine on something.

This simple thing has not been that easy to learn. It certainly went against everything I had been taught since I was very young. I thought people listened only because they were too timid to speak or did not know the answer. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well intentioned words.

Thanks to Deepam I have started listening ……..