What can we as a generation give our children …nothing better than a smile? On the occasion of Diwali accorded as ‘festival of lights’, in India the Campaign team of Humara Bachpan – Early Childhood Matters made an attempt to light up some smiles.
Diwali translates to mean a “row of lamps”; and on this auspicious day tiny clay lamps are lighted to signify the triumph of good over bad. This year under the flagship goal of Bernard van Leer Foundation’s “Safe and Healthy environment for Young Children Living in Urban Poverty”; the campaigners celebrated “Safe Diwali for a Safe Bachpan” (Childhood).
On 13th October 2012 about 100 volunteers came together at Vivekananda Sikhya Kendra a school in Salia Sahi Slum, Bhubaneswar, Odisha to lighten the day for 350 children between the age group of 0-8 years. The programme tailored a series of sessions like bungee jumping, mehndi (henna tattoo), painting on the walls, outdoor games, rangoli, song, dance, and origami. All the while spreading across awareness messages for an eco-friendly and safer Diwali.
It was an initiative to spread joy and inform the young minds on staying away from addictive substances like gutkha, being careful with fire-crackers and keeping themselves safe from burns and blisters, volunteers sensitized the children about the way in which firecrackers needs to be discarded. So, that it will prevent people from stepping on used crackers and getting hurt and in a way keep their immediate physical environment in the slum, clean from toxic substances.
Diwali irrespective of being a celebration of joy is marred due to air pollution a result of fire-crackers being burnt abundantly; there is a high incidence of burns and blisters cases reported especially in children. Children are also prone to skin allergies due to exposure to noxious gases especially in slums where there is dearth of space and congested housing. Keeping all this in mind, the event was designed to create a need based realization within the children themselves on safer living space in a slum.
The campaign team successfully gave a common platform to volunteers from 12 youth led organizations such as We4U, Alive Creations, Uddan Odisha, Voluntary Association of Social Action (VASA), Youth Development Foundation ( YDF), ( Canna blitz) CB, Diabetes, Bakul Foundation, Being Indian Foundation, NMYS (Nasha Mukti Yuva Sankalp), Vision Smart India, Youth Fraternity of Kalinga ( YFK) and students from colleges and Universities like Utkal University, University Law College, Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar College, Biju Patnaik College of Social Work, Centre for Social Science and Research (CSSR) and Institute of Media Studies ( IMS) to volunteer a day for sensitizing young children living in Urban poverty on building a safe and healthy physical environment around them.