In the past, each year I used to celebrate Independence Day either at my school or at home watching parade on T.V listening to Patriotic bollywood movie songs. This Year Independence Day was different because I came out of my comfort zone to celebrate it with kids from Naya bans Basti.
I walked through a small alley towards a group of people where I saw three categories of people. First the kids who were holding tricolour Flags waving them proudly, second the proud parents who were looking at their kids and third a group of volunteers who were organising things in the background.
A small tent was erected in front of the one room school building which was decked with tricolours and other student made ornaments. The decoration was done by the kids themselves.
The volunteers most of them working professional have worked for past 5 years to bring the kids to the school and that showed in the way kids mingled up comfortably with them. As soon as I appear on the scene I was surrounded by kids eager to know my name while some of them just hugged me.
The programme started with national song “Jan Gan Man” with everyone joining the Chorus. This was followed by Saraswati Vandana and many other patriotic songs. It’s rare to see all children actively participating in stage performances but I saw, for each item a different set of students were on the stage even for compering each time a new smiling face came up. This left me wondering about the amount of effort that had gone behind it.
As the programme proceeded I was astonished to hear English Patriotic songs sung by students. They were as confident as singing if it is in their mother tongue. For next hour and half this colourful music continued to fill the air through the borrowed Masjid PA system.
After that it was the prize distribution ceremony where outstanding students were rewarded and there were also awards for overall personality improvement. The award ceremony ended with Chief Guest who was a Principal of Nai Disha(one of the school where these kids study) highlighting the importance of education.
The next phase was the most touching part of the whole event. A few parents were invited to speak about how their kids have improved since they have joined the school. One of them explained how he was critical about sending his girl to the school and now how proud he is, when his girl stood first in the class. There was another who said that his daughter was not able to speak to anyone and now after a year of schooling she is very confident and even speaks with visiting officer which even her parents fear to do. The third lady came to tears while thanking the volunteers for providing the opportunity to her kids which otherwise would have been impossible.
While being an eyewitness to the whole event, at the back of my mind I was thinking that this is what Independence means to people which most of us take for granted. These kids will remember this Independence Day and many more to come as steps towards their independence.
Then came the sweet distribution part where I assumed the responsibility of distributing Ladoos(Since this was kind of thing that can be done without preparation). I saw faces lit up when I handed laddoo’s to the kids and a beautiful smile crossed each lips in the anticipation.
It’s been a long time since I have sung “Jan gun Man” and other patriotic songs in loud voice. This experience jolted lots of childhood memories within and evoked patriotic feelings. This truly was a different Independence day that I have celebrated till now.
AID Prayas our (AID NOIDA Chapter) flagship project is an AID India supported community development project at Sector 16, NOIDA. We are in a process of engaging with the community through education to guide associated families towards a more value driven and quality life for themselves and their children.