Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Outreach - Reaching Out!


I have been meaning to write a post concerning this since some time. Now comes the perfect opportunity for that. 


What is Outreach about: Outreach is an initiative (a first in the country) by my college that has been running successfully for more than 10 years and still. It is an initiative wherein the students in their 2nd year are motivated to do community service. Well, it is not as easy as it looks. This programme is compulsory for all students and are required to complete 120 hours in a single academic year. Each department is allotted one community (slum) and have to come to that specific area two days a week for two hours. The main aim is to instill a sense of responsibility and make students understand the ways and workings of a community and to help them. There are numerous slums located in and around Chennai in pockets, most of which are sandwiched between the river Cooum and nearby railway stations and/or main roads. 

The class was divided into five groups- Youth & development, Women empowerment, Childcare, Elders and differently abled, Health & sanitation. I belong to the Elders' community group. These groups must concentrate on what they were assigned to.

The first few sessions were a bit dreadful, what with having to come early in the morning at 9:30 AM. Yes, 9:30 AM is early for us, as for the past one and half years we were accustomed to the late timings of our college (1:30 PM). But then it got easier. This was literally the first time I have ever been to a slum in real. And well, ofcourse, it was not nice. The pictures below might prove my point. The people we met were different. Initially we took a survey and did the necessary help for some people who asked for it. Like, for instance, some elderly people were not receiving their pension. We made sure they got it. We organised medical camps, campaigns etc. We helped people in getting jobs.

                                                         

                        

Three days earlier, we celebrated Pongal with the people residing in the slum. It was a new and wonderful experience. All the groups were assigned different tasks. For example, my group decided to buy all the ingredients required for making Pongal. One group decided to do a play to create awareness against burning of plastics on account of Bhogi. And so it goes. I didn't have breakfast that day and started by 7:45 AM from home. Before we knew, it was already 10:30 AM when we started the function. We conducted competitions such as Rangoli, running race, backward walking, lemon and spoon etc; and gave away prizes to the winners. It was then succeeded by two different speeches on Pongal and Ill effects of burning plastics during Bhogi. There was rapt attention seen.


These are some captures I took in my mobile. These Kolams are indeed beautiful and colourful. No wonder the people worked hard for it :)


Sorry for the medium picture quality and awkward angles.




Pongal before rise


Lemon and spoon game

Pongal after rise


These two kids approached me and asked to take
photo of them.

All that started well, ended well. Everyone thanked us. Everyone. From elderly people to small kids. Apparently, we were the first batch to have visited their area through outreach and that it was a new experience for them too. They thoroughly enjoyed our programme. After the sweet Pongal was made, it was served to all. Unfortunately, I was late. I had to share with my friend. Being the first intake of food, it tasted even more sweeter.

I wish you all a very Happy Pongal ! :D

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Celebrations!


My College had offered its students a long vacation, starting from December 21 to January 2, what with the last 'working' day being very memorable, on which, Mr.President visited here to inaugurate the new building for Commerce and Economics, and to have been one of the over 2500 people gathered as the audience.....well, it was a very surreal experience. I have never seen hordes of policemen patrolling the same area before and that too inside the College. Mobile phones of any kind were not allowed. Black material worn of any kind was not allowed (apart from shoes). However, I did not understand the logic behind this. I was asked to remove my black socks, leaving out the shoes. I hate it when my feet sweat. Who does! Thank goodness, the function took place for only an hour. After that memorable day, I was a free bird. I had gone to Pondicherry, my mother's native. Incidentally, I happened to participate in the Christmas celebrations at my relative's house. It was actually awesome, what with the chilly midnight weather, text-message cum call greetings from friends, delicious cake, prayers and decorations. 

This is actually a tradition done for ...like... 10 years and this was... like... the third time I was able to participate in it.
Below are some pictures that I captured.






On Christmas day , my cousins and I went to watch the afternoon show for "Biriyani"- a Tamil movie, that turned out to be a very good entertainer . After that, we had dinner at the Sunway GRT Grand, Pondicherry that turned out to be a not-so-good experience. It was one of those rare days where I laugh until my abdomen began to hurt. Below is the amazing hotel, all decorated for Christmas and below that is a plate of "Finger Fish" - instagrammed.





Before I sign off, let me wish you a very Happy and an Awesome 2014!
Cheers


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