Shishu Sarothi is an award-winning NGO based in Assam, reaching out to children with cerebral palsy and related disorders. The care and love given to these children was apparent to the author, when she spent a summer interning there, and came away with memories that will never fade. These children are coming to Delhi to perform a play on the 20th November. Be sure you are there to encourage and cheer them.
Around two summers back, my friend and I decided to spend our summer in Shishu Sarothi, Guwahati. Shishu Sarathi is a centre for Rehabilitation and Training for multiple disability and has been reaching out to many children of Northeast India since 1987.
It began as a non-profit organisation in 1987 at a time when the nearest facility for intervention and management of children with cerebral palsy and its associated disabilities was located in Kolkata. Shishu Sarathi in fact became the first institution in Assam to cater specifically to the needs of children with cerebral palsy.
I interned there for two months and I recall that summer as my best ever. I was exposed to a whole new world of people. The children were arranged in different classes according to their progress. We spent time teaching them how to paint, play, add numbers, draw, color and worked on making them independent in doing their own day to day activities.
Without knowing, they welcomed us into their world and made us a part of it with so much trust, love and ease. These children were wild and free and were always full of courage. They wore their guts on their sleeves. I have never seen fear in their eyes, they were always on the move, wanting to learn more, explore more and do the impossible. Performing stunts was the common craze with most of them there, leaving us fascinated and enchanted by their spirit.
Every morning when i reached there, they would welcome me with their best smile, hold my hand and drag me inside the class. They enjoyed their activities and since painting is my favourite, I partially dragged them into the world of colors and in turn they taught me how never to bother about what you want to paint but be really proud of the outcome, whatever it turned out to be. These kids loved to laugh and they would do anything to make you laugh your hardest.
They made it very difficult for me to stay in one class for long. I wanted to be in every class with everyone all the time. It was a pleasure spending time there and I never wanted my internship to come to an end. These children taught me how to love and how to be brave. They were trained really well and groomed very properly. Both the teachers and students in the institute worked hard and shared such a strong bond that it was difficult not to love and admire them.
On the last day of my internship, One of the little girls went all over the institute to find her phone number to give it to me so that I wouldn’t forget her. With their little gestures, they win everybody’s hearts and teach them how to love, how to accept and how to trust.
Shishu Sarothi has received the Best Institution Award from the President of India in 2004 and the State Award for Best Community Service from the Chief Minister of Assam In 2007. It has served the society with pride for 25 years now and held its Silver Jubilee celebrations on May 1, 2012 with a concert, the highlight of which was B V Karanth’s Kannada play Buddhuram, directed by national award winning theatre artiste Bhagirathi of Seagull Theatre.
The idea of performing the play had its genesis in the knowledge that performing arts can be both therapeutic and motivational for children with disabilities. As Bhagirathi says,
In my career as a theatre artist, I have learnt more from the hidden talents of the children at Shishu Sarathi than what I have taught. They have completely changed my views about life. Directing performances for these special children has been a great challenge and even as I try o bring out their best, I realise how wonderfully talented they all are.
Buddhuram is a play about a pair of children realising the practical aspects of life and their own shortcomings. These children are coming all the way to Delhi from Guwahati to perform the play on the 20th of this November at Abhi Manch in National School of Drama at 6 PM. I would request all of you to join in, enjoy, boost their confidence and encourage them.
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