Bhubaneswar: At a time, when young people are whiling away their summer vacation or busy focusing on a career, many young volunteers, who have joined Bakul Foundation, were working hard to develop the imagination and creativity among children in Cuttack through a Summer Camp at the Bakul Children’s Library at the Ratho Enclave, Biju Patnaik Chhaka starting from 14 May that ended today.
In the process, the volunteers under the leadership of Deepsha Dhal included young lawyers such as Sarvavid Pradhan and Thakur Sangram Singh, young girls from Cuttack studying in Bangalore and back home for summer such as Mahek Singhania and Pankhuri Agarwal, college girls such as Swayam Siddha Dhal and Bushra Begum and even high school students such as Preetika Mita and Anushka Nayak developed their own leadership skills as well as skills in different crafts as they conducted workshops for children. About 150 children between 10 to 16 years of age participated in total in the 6 different workshops that were part of the Summer Camp with each child signing up for 3 to 4 of the workshops on an average.
What was unique about this Summer Camp was not just that it was one of the few Summer Camps organized in Cuttack. But it was1. Entirely organized by volunteers keen to make a difference to society2. The children participating were from different social groups from slums to middle class and elite homes at a time when there is a little interaction between children of different social groups3. It had many unique workshops not commonly organized such as Murals or Wall Art, Book Illustration, Story Writing, Best of Waste, Theatre etc.
The Facilitators may not have been professionals, but were supremely talented and helped bring out the latent talents in the children. In the Best of Waste Workshop, the children created vases and flowers out of plastic bottles. They also made an Apple Tree out of 2 plastic bottles only with the neck of the bottle for flowers, the bottom for the apples and the middle part for leaves. They also made Glow in the Dark Lanterns from glass jars that were waste at homes. In the process, the children started thinking seriously about the problem of plastic pollution and the danger to the environment. The tree made of plastic was a powerful commentary on how nature has been invaded by the menace of plastic. In the theatre workshop, children made a powerful appeal for acceptance of young children who may have different sexual orientation and children who may have gone wayward and taken to drugs even as it condemned the use of drugs. The children created wonderful stories and illustrated them as well. This is the first summer camp in which a story created by children and illustrated by children may finally be published as a children’s picture book in their name as Bakul Foundation has started publishing children’s books in Odia and some of them have been ccreated by children. It’s a wonderful story titled “Mota Rajankara Boka Sasana”.
(The Fat King’s stupid governance). This is a beautiful story of a fat and stupid king, who discriminates against the poor and banishes the poor people from his kingdom to have only the well-to-do to deal with. After a period of time, the rich in the kingdom face grave difficulties in getting their food, cleaning their houses and public spaces and getting their work done. On the other hand, the poor farmers, fisherfolk etc are happy in the forest and the riverside. The King eventually realizes his folly and brings them back to the kingdom and stops discriminating.
The children were also very happy to interact with TV stars Kuna Tripathy and Sulagna Rautray in the camp. It must be mentioned that the Bakul Library in Cuttack was set up entirely through efforts of young volunteers of the city, who conducted book collection drives at homes and schools and collected books for the library, which is housed in an old house, part of which the Ratho family has given out for the use of the library. It is still, the best children’s library in Cuttack.