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Tears on a Summer Camp

I had wept much in the year 2018. If you ask me why I wept mostly for myself. I wept because I could not accept what I had become. There was enough pain and hurts that tarnished my childhood joy. Shame had dwelt in my soul. I had picked it along the way of my life. It glued to me like a parasite. This shame had been eating my organism and I was so unaware of the terrible deterioration in my Self. Last year, in a counselling session, I sloughed this shame.  I had to realize the wrongs done to me; the bruises on my bosom, and gripping fears that tormented me. It took me days to recover from that shock of a terrible realization. When my strength was restored, I wept again; this time, for my children in the slums.

If, I from a normal Christian Family had gone through childhood, which was not amusing at all, I couldn't help but wonder what children from the slums would be going through. I recounted the number of instances, our coaches from the slum reported abuses. They have been witnessing these problems for a long while. Now, I could not stop thinking about the children. How can we bring healing to the lives of our children?  How will I help our children deal with their emotional struggles? It was a herculean task. I resolved to teach our children how to cope up with their emotional struggles. I soon approached Janet who is a counselor by profession and also a board member of JanPragati. I sought her help. Both of us knew that it is almost an impossible feat. Primarily, We had a deal with huge numbers: There are usually around 250 children who attend the summer camp every year. That is a big number. How are we going to deal with such a huge number?  Further children from every age would attend the camp. There would be children as small as 4-year-old and there are youngsters around 18 years old. What material of study will suit all these children? Then, there are these other questions: What are the major emotional issues faced by our children? How does abuse affect these children? What emotions do the exhibit? Then there is this big challenge: How are we going to teach all these to children who can neither read nor write?

We knew that only divine intervention would help us, and it was a divine act as well. Very soon Janet came up with the idea that we have to deal with three emotions, namely Anger, Fear and Shame. These emotions stem out from the  ‘Hurt’ children go through. Many children don't really recognize this pain and carry on their lives as if that is normal for everyone. However, this hurt plays havoc inside of them that they display anger, suffer lingering fear, and are nagged by shame. Children will have to recognize the pain they had gone through and know that the emotions they go through are consequences of the ‘hurt’.   But we have to give them an introduction to healthy emotions and illustrate to them how it is emotionally healthy. Keeping all these in mind, we began designing the syllabus.

In a fortnight, the syllabus was complete. The rigors of Psychological dynamics and sly concepts had to be simplified. These lessons had to be imbibed into themselves rather than understood intellectually. For this, the fortuitousness of Role-Play was heavily employed.  Role-Plays had this capacity to embed concepts in the minds of people without them being aware of it. Children will have to learn by observing the emotions of the characters in the role play. Songs were written along the lines of the theme. Finally, we had to come up with a title for the Summer Camp. We finally themed the camp as “Mera Mann Balwaan”. It could be roughly translated as “My heart (mind) is Strong”.

Then, the day came. It was all perfect. There were around 270 Children and 95 Volunteers…  All came with immense joy… lives were changed…. Some became emotionally strong; from the slums and from the streets…  And guess what … I wept again.

-Nithin E Sam


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