It’s All About the Little Things!

Contributed by:  Kritika Koshyari

 Dated:  30th May, 2017

” Didi, aapka naam kya hai?” (didi, what is your name?) asked the kids, as we stood in a circle ready to begin my first day with Project KHEL. Even before this little yet amusing introduction, the kids in certain locations run up to us welcoming us with “good evening didi, good evening sir” and enthusiastic high-fives.

I’ve merely attended a few sessions as part of my internship, yet they have become one of the most cherished partsIMG_20170531_173713985 (1) of my life.

Although the work allotted to me is data collection which is slightly boring (yes, I greatly envy our facilitators who enjoy with the kids while I am busy collecting data), yet post the data collection I get to engage with the kids which sort of makes up for it.

I have no clue whether it’s just me or that’s the case with other volunteers as well, but the group of kids in every location reminds me of a class room full of students.  In every location, there’s the talkative one, the over- enthusiastic one, the lazy one, the violent aggressive kid, the troublemaker, the one who is forever complaining about the other kids’ antics and… of course the late comer. Oh, and how could I forget the regular absentee who always has a reason ready to justify his/her absence from the previous session.

One of the outstanding aspects of the sessions organised in an afterschool programme, also joined by children from a neighbouring slum and a shelter home for girls, is that the kids not only play indigenous sports like Kho kho, they also get the space to make alterations in existing rules or create new games altogether. It’s a delight to see them play a game they themselves have designed and most importantly enjoy it while doing so.

Here’s a glimpse into one incident that happened in this session that touched me beyond words. We were playing Kho Kho with certain alterations the kids had themselves suggested and I happened to be on the running side. Carried away with the zeal of the game, I ran like my life depended on it and thanks to my imperfectly timed clumsiness, I fell down, my leggings covered in dirt. I expected amused laughs to follow my great fall but surprisingly there was not even a single sneer.  The game paused for a while, these little kids came up to me and are like “didi koi baat nahi, aap ne acha khela” (no problem didi, you played well) and one little boy gives me a high five,  and trust me I was awed  at the genuine support of these kids. This might seem to be a trivial incident but honestly, it touched my heart. Such genuine heartfelt encouragement and the spirit of teamwork coming from such young kids in an age where people harbour a desperate desire to win by hook or by crook and are ready to mock a person who slackens is truly remarkable.

Project KHEL – It’s not just short for Kids Holistic Education and Life- Skills. It’s a lot more than that.  It’s about the fun-filled games, the myriad of emotions experienced while conducting a session and the sense of satisfaction after the completion of each, it’s about the struggle to keep your emotions in check when you happen to hear a story that devastates you internally, it’s about the lessons taught and also the lessons learnt but most importantly it’s about the change which KHEL brings in the lives of innumerable kids.

And just like that, simply and gradually, these Made in Maidaan sessions have made a special place in my heart.

Here’s to many more sessions, many more enthusiastic high fives and to many more lessons yet to be learnt.