Report on visit to Navjeevan Learning Centre

Date:18th October, 2009

Venue:Murbad, Maharashtra

18th October, 2009 may have been a normal Sunday for most Mumbaikars, but it was obviously a special one for a few. The day brought forward yet another opportunity for the Friends of Max, mainly from Mumbai and Pune to find an excuse to meet up for yet one more social service event.

The day was dedicated to the celebration of the birth date of someone special for us i.e.; Max. As per every year, once again, this special day was celebrated by interacting with a group of children, this time from a special learning centre by the name of Navjeevan Learning Centre. To add up to the enthusiasm of the members, we were joined by Darlene Lee who works for The Max Foundation in U.S.A.

As far as the day was concerned, it began with a reunion at the home of Pramod and Mini in Kalyan. Members from Mumbai as well as Pune met at the place, socializing and introducing themselves to the new as well as the old members. After a delicious and energizing round of breakfast and refreshments, everyone began their journey to Murbad. After a 20 km ride (in a convoy of five vehicles that Pramod called the Paanch Pandavs ) through the lush, green vegetation and the scenic beauty of the ghats, we finally reached the destination.

Navjeevan Society mainly consisted of the dormitory style houses, the school building and the Chapel. On reaching there we first interacted with a few students and their house parents. Within a few moments of reaching the place, they served us with a simple but delicious lunch consisting of rice along with other curries and vegetable preparations. After that, came the moment of interaction with the students of the Centre. The members collected in the campus’ chapel. In a few moments, the whole place was filled with all the people from the premise, including the house parents and the in-charge of the place, Father Samuel Matthew          .

Before the actual event began, Father Samuel explained to all of us the sole purpose of establishing the organization. The Navjeevan Trust works for the purpose of rehabilitation and education of children belonging to Commercial Sex Workers (C.S.Ws) from the Kamathipura area of Mumbai. The organization works mainly on the principle of separating the children at a young age from the potentially disastrous, anti-social environment they would be forced to grow up in and providing them with the basic necessities i.e.; food, shelter, clothing, education, medicines and etiquettes of day to day life. The main goal of the organization is to help the children become independent enough to support their own needs and eventually reunite them with their mother.

With the chapel filled, Amma began with the presentation regarding information related to cancer, its types, Max and our organization. The presentation also included experiences shared by Mr.Pramod with the children. With the end of the presentation, a drawing competition was organized. Amma introduced the concept of expressing one’s feelings through colours and art and it was an interactive session .As soon as the presentation was over the FOM volunteers began distributing the material, the students began segregating into small groups. What followed was a feast for the senses for all the people in the place. A number of talented children began to bring to light their art and imagination on the paper in front of them. By the end of an hour, their sheets were collected and the outstanding performers were announced. These kids were presented with the Max Foundation’s book ’Colors of Hope’. Later, before leaving the chapel, the kids played a few rounds of ‘Antakshari’. At the time of leaving the chapel, each person was given a small paper bag with a few souvenirs and a few articles as a token of appreciation for their active participation in the events. The day ended by cutting cakes, eating it together with the 162 children present and bursting crackers with them to celebrate Max’s birthday and Diwali.

Looking at the condition of the children and their background, one would obviously think we should feel pity for them. But on the other hand, we all ended up by admiring them for one could always look at the bright side of their lives. These children were away from an environment which could have had them resort to anti-social activities and denied an opportunity to live life like others . They were learning to be better human beings and living their lives independently. Their life reminds me of a quote written by one of the children at the Art session It said-
   ‘Never say, “O God, I have a big problem.” ,
always say, “Hey problem, I have a big God.” ‘.

Reported by Volunteer Friends of Max, Mumbai.