I had heard a lot about the perceptive children of Udayan Care, and had met a few of them in person. So when Dr Kiran Modi, Managing Trustee, Udayan Care requested Literature Studio to conduct a workshop for them during their summer camp, we were delighted. For those who do not know, Udayan Care is an NGO that “works to empower vulnerable children, women and youth, in 13 cities across 8 states of India.” Through its several Udayan Ghars, the organization provides home and family to hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children. Mentor parents and care givers shower their love and care on these children and the children receive education in some of the best schools in the city. No stone is left unturned to ensure that Udayan kids step into the adult world well-equipped with the required skills and fully prepared to face the day-to-day struggles. And each year during summers, children from several Udayan Ghars get together in Greater Noida for summer camp. This summer camp not only gives the children an opportunity to interact with each other, but also exposes them to several extracurricular activities that they can take up.
We were excited but also slightly apprehensive about the workshop. At this tender age, these kids have faced sorrow deeper than any of us have had to face. And creative writing is an intense exercise, an activity that involves a lot of “looking within”. We were worried whether we had the capability of handling this sensitively. And even though we do have considerable experience of conducting creative writing workshops, this was the first time we were conducting one for an NGO. But it was a challenge we were willing to take.
The workshop started like most of our other workshops do. And one curious kid candidly asked “Will it be boring?” just as we were about to start. On this note, “A Story a Day!” started with a hearty dose of laughter. And very soon everything else was forgotten and we were having fun. It was heartening to see the children participate enthusiastically. Even the most silent of the kids were slowly drawn into the various activities. And before we knew it, the children were churning out one masterpiece after another. One pretty young lady, who had declared at the beginning of the workshop that she wasn’t interested in reading or writing, was the first to offer to read out her work every time we finished an exercise.
There were a couple of kids who didn’t lift the pen even once to write during the entire workshop, but they stayed on and returned on time after the break and this was motivation enough for us. We enjoyed creating settings, watching videos, developing characters, and spinning stories. What touched me the most was that these kids clapped heartily for each other after each reading. There may have been some holding back while writing, but there was absolutely none when appreciating one another.
And before we realized, it was time to wrap up. It had turned out to be a fun morning and we were happy. But when Antra, the senior manager who was managing the summer camp, came up and told us that kids had had fun and wanted more of such workshops during the summer camp, we were thrilled. We had had a lot of fun and were glad to know that the kids had loved it too. And if invited, we would like to go back to Udayan Care Summer Camp year after year. There are very few workshops where we feel that we have learnt almost as much as the participants, and this was one of them.