Remember that feeling when your favourite festival is only days away? That tingling sensation, when you can’t wait to be part of the excitement. For hundreds of children living in and around Kochi, this is just how they are feeling these days. Come February 4, they will make their way to Rajagiri Centre for Business Studies to attend Crayons.
Organised by students of the Kochi-based business school, Crayons is a fest dedicated exclusively to children living in orphanages.
Only a few days before Crayons is about to commence, Jeena Hemaraj barely has any time. After all, she is one of the students responsible for ensuring that the inter-orphanage event is a success. “We do a lot of events in college, but Crayons is special,” she says.
Jeena is part of Rajagiri Transcend, the business school’s social outreach initiative that encourages students to explore extra-curricular activities that make an impact on society. They conduct weekend tuition classes for underprivileged children for the Shikshagrah project, run anti-drug campaigns, and organise festivals and functions.
“Crayons is one of our flagship events,” says Jeena, narrating how their outreach programmes at orphanages helped them conceptualise the day-long festival. The festival is an initiative by the students from scratch and has been running to overwhelming success since 2011.
“We start with inviting the orphanages, visiting them if possible or via mail,” says Jeena. “On the day of the festival, we pick them up and bring them to our campus along with their teachers.”
A complete day of fun activities ensue, with the children participating in fancy dress, dance, collage-making and drawing competitions.
Jeena says, “We give away prizes in each category, plus a prize for the best orphanage. Winning prizes are a great source of motivation for these children. It makes them happy and aspire for greater things.”
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The student coordinators even take care of cooking, whipping up plates of biryani and gulab jamun for the excited children. A kit filled with school and daily essentials are given away to all the little guests at the end of the day, before they head back home.
A team of 70 students — core committee members, coordinators and volunteers — are putting together the event this year.
The task force is somewhat reduced this year as the college is also hosting a basketball championship and a marketing conference on the same day, but the team relies on its experience of managing the fest several times.
“Last year, we had 20 orphanages attending the event. 500 children came to participate in our activities,” says Jeena who has been part of the organising team since the festival’s inception. Over 450 students are expected to participate in this year’s edition too, she adds.
While fests are an integral part of many school and college curricula, children from underprivileged sections are often deprived of such opportunities. An event like Crayons makes it possible for many underprivileged children from Kochi to experience a festival, participate in fun activities and win prizes, and make new friends.
This year, apart from the usual activities, the students are also trying to make a few wishes come true. “A lot of children want to be doctors etc when they grow up,” Jeena says. “We are gathering costumes for various professions and will have the children get their photographs clicked wearing costumes of their choice. We are also going to ask all the orphanages to give us one thing they wish to do for their children, for instance a trip to an amusement park. We will work with our sponsors to make it happen.”
Over the years, Crayons has become a platform for exposing underprivileged children to new creative possibilities. For the student organisers of Rajagiri Business School, this event is one of the highlights of their calendar years. As Jeena puts it, “There’s nothing more joyful than to hear the children tell us how eagerly they wait for Crayons every year.”
For more information on Rajagiri Transcend, head to their Facebook page.