It was a colourful morning, packed with enthusiasm, and began with the purchase of numerous colourful balloons. Yes balloons! Since the campaign involved a set of energy-filled children.The venue for the ‘Stomp Out Cancer’ campaign in Pune, was ‘Samarth Vidyalaya’ (Dhankawadi). Samartha Vidyalaya is a school founded by Mr. Jayant Duvedi and Mrs. Geeta Duvedi, an exceptionally inspirational couple from the FOM chapter in Pune. This holy temple of education has been founded with the objective to serve the underprivileged children in Dhankawadi area. Mr. and Mrs. Duvedi embarked on this journey in 1987, with a group of 25 children. Today, the school provides education to over 300 children up to 7th grade.
The little angels at Samartha Vidyalaya, and their parents were the main participants and beneficiaries of the campaign. Amma (which is what Viji is foundly called by most of us), Ayeshah, Leenata, Sudha, and the FOM chapters in Pune were actively involved in various sessions of the day. The list of invitees included Dr. Padmaj Kulkarni, Bhimrao Taapkir (MLA), Varsha Taapkir (Corporator), Varsha Kulkarni (Assistant Editor for Sakaal newspaper) and Uday Jagtap (a social worker).
The first event for this colourful day was a rally aimed at creating awareness about good eating habits, as also the ill-effects of addiction and its association with cancer. The little feet trotted through the lanes around their school, shouting out various slogans and flashing boards with slogans written on them. But of course they were accompanied by Amma, the invitees and the FOM volunteers. Some of the students were given balloons to be released into the sky signifying a wide reach of the awareness message.
Once back from the rally, a group of children presented a street play that described CML, the role of Max Foundation and Gleevec in the lives of CML and GIST patients and their families. The play also focused on how eating habits and exercise influence our overall health, and are essential to avoid the development of cancer. The necessity to keep addiction at bay was also emphasized. The wonderful performance by these little angels was very well liked and appreciated by all.
This was followed by a session filled with pearls of wisdom from Amma and the other guests. Amma narrated the story of Max, the inception of Max Foundation and highlighted the need to face every situation with strength and courage. Mr. Uday Jagtap shared his experience while dealing with cancer patients and their efforts to drive out the fear associated with this disease. The others highlighted the importance of clean surroundings, and the fact that collectively we can fight every battle strongly and more effectively. The evidence of courage and strength being imparted came immediately when one of the parents, who is also a cancer survivor, shared her experience in battling the disease. She later on admitted that the fear in her mind has now vanished. That was a moment of true satisfaction. The session came to a delightful end with vote of thanks proposed by Leenata, followed by the release of a bunch of colourful balloons. The wish in every mind was that the, message to Stomp out Cancer should spread far and wide and in every possible direction.
While the parents were gathering courage and knowledge, the little minds were running fast. They were having a gala time colouring the pictures of fruits and fruit baskets while participating in a colouring contest arranged for them in their classrooms. Once through with the colouring, it was time for the tiny tots to gather some knowledge about the meaning of addiction, and the reason to stay away from certain habits. We visited their classrooms, and spoke to the children about the same. They were inspired inculcate good eating habits and avoid junk food. The colours on their faces were more mesmerizing than those on their colouring sheets.
It was a colourful day not just for the children, but also for their parents. A drawing competition had been arranged for them too. They sketched out pictures depicting the importance of tree plantation, clean surroundings, as well as the various activities they observed during this campaign. It was amazing to see them deeply engrossed in drawing, and pouring their hearts out onto the drawing sheets. The winners of these competitions as well as the students who presented the play were awarded with prizes as a token of appreciation and encouragement.
With this, the delightful morning came to a halt, leaving us filled with ultimate joy and a great deal of satisfaction.
Kalyani Dhake, FOM Volunteer Pune