Monday, July 09, 2007

Kilikili's awareness programme - Part II

Like I'd promised in my previous post, let me tell you more about the awareness programme I was part of.

I had just then finished distributing the handouts to the people in Coles Park for Kilikili's event, when I heard someone call my name out. That was Vinod, an active and enthusiastic volunteer for Kilikili and my companion for the awareness programme, who has LOADS of energy even in his sixties!!

We greeted each other and started our second task for the day.

- Our first visit was to a shop "Indira darshini" which is on the other side of the road at the Coles Park’s small gate. We met the man at the cash counter and introduced ourselves. I must admire Vinod's attitude to take this up so professionally. And I liked it because I felt so happy working for this good cause!

Vinod: "Sir, I am Vinod. We are volunteers from Kilikili which works for making public parks accessible for differently abled kids......" I joined the conversation to talk to the shopkeeper in Kannada.

Shopkeeper: "Please don't waste my time. Don't beat around the bush. Come to the point. What do you want??”

I was totally disappointed at his rude statement and his attitude towards the cause. I couldn't stop myself from giving it back 'like always'...

Me: "Sir, we have not come here to waste your time. We are trying to educate you about the facility given to disabled kids in Coles Park and how you can spread the word. Even we have come here taking some time out from our work schedules for a good cause. In case you don't want to donate, it's OK. But don't ask us not to beat around the bush because we AREN'T doing that ".

I was just too disappointed with this kind of a start. But Vinod never let our spirits die down through out the evening. He did try to urge that man to do some kind of a donation for the cause but the man went on to say that "I am not the manager here. Please come when he's around"!!

I didn't find one reason to get back to that place again.

I wasn't disappointed because that guy didn't contribute, but yes I felt bad that he didn't care to listen to what we had to say. I would have been more than happy if he at least helped us in spreading the word.

Well, we moved on to the next shop. We went into a mobile phone shop. We introduced ourselves. The shopkeeper was a guy in his late twenties. He asked us for more info and also we showed him our brochures and gave him the handout as well.

He was too happy to help us and donated a generous 100 bucks. Believe me I was not even close to being this happy when I got my first salary which was 8.5K!!

We have got the coupon books of 50 and 100 each done for Kilikili as part of the fund raising programme. These books also let us take down the contact details of the person who's donating and we were so happy to receive our first donation :).

Yes that did lift my spirits up because this guy showed so much interest in what we spoke and was happy being part of the cause himself.

Then we went on to visit small shops, departmental stores, small hotels and a diagnostic centre too and people in most of these were really not keen in listening to us and gave us one same "excuse" for not contributing -

"Our manager/proprietor isn't around. He has gone out. Please come tomorrow."

But still, we made a cool 620 bucks in just about an hour and a half!! :)

Well I have to mention one very important thing here. The entire amount which we collected was donated by men who are in their mid twenties and mid thirties...

This was seriously some food for thought. These were men who were educated, in their youth, who were patient enough to listen to us during their peak business hours, enthusiastic to ask us for handouts or brochures and who promised that they would "spread the word" :)

I mentioned this to Vinod when we almost reached our last shop for that day. He said "hey smart observation! All the old men did refuse to even listen to us and also they kept asking us to come tomorrow!!"

He was excited with this thought and asked the guy from the near by tyre shop about the same thing, the guy had just then finished donating us a generous 50 bucks,

"Sir, we shouldn't worry about what the old people think or say when it comes to understanding a good cause like this. It's definitely the youth in India which will take it to greater heights."

Well, on that note let me thank Kilikili for such a beautiful day on the 30th of June! All of us truly had loads of fun!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Some things in Life... which I'll always do - Event with Kilikili Part I

Some things in Life...I always wished and wanted to do, which I'll always do and would want to do!

Let me introduce you to my world of 'community service' through this post and the ones which would follow. I have never blogged about my activities with the Community Service Group of the organization I work for. It's also called Angel Eyes :).

I have been working for this group from 2 years, while I was in Mumbai and now in Bangalore too. May be I always thought such things are sweeter in memories :) and hence I never tried to put it out onto my blog.

But I think NOW is the time I should be sharing my experiences here and should be letting my thoughts out so that people who would bump into this blog can relate to things they have seen/felt/experienced and together we can work on larger things in life...

I work for an organization called 'Kilikili' - this actually is a kind of sound associated with the kids' laughter in Kannada. Kilikili is an NGO in Bangalore which works for making public parks accessible for differently abled kids. The first thing you'd see on its Homepage -

"How come we never see a child with a disability in a public park?"

I'd say, we hardly see 'any' kid play in the public parks. Kids these days are glued more to TV sets, computers or mostly video games, play stations and other gadgets in town!!

When I first heard about Kilikili, I was very impressed with it's very objective and ideas. I thought it was amazing.

After a training session on different disabilities in kids and a few follow-up meetings, all the volunteers at Kilikili were eagerly waiting for the BIG day on 30th of June coz this day was the official launch for Kilikili with one park in Fraser Town - "Coles Park" going LIVE with the new equipments installed for the special kids to play in the park and also with the old ones repaired too!!

Just before the event, I and a fellow volunteer decided to go for an awareness programme in the vicinity of the Coles Park. This also included collecting any donations for the NGO from the people in the area.

27th June

I left office early along with hand-outs and landed at Coles Park at 4 30 PM, it was good weather in the evening with chill breeze in the park and tiny leaves from the trees dropping gently onto the ground. I thought this evening was a perfect start and so I started off my awareness program for Kilikili!

I had assigned 2 tasks for myself that day.

(1) To educate the people coming to the park about Kilikili and the equipment that was going to be installed for kids with disabilities in the park and to provide them with the handouts about the event.

(2)To educate the people outside the park along with a fellow volunteer, mostly small shops, hotels in the vicinity and see if donations pour in for Kilikili.

I'll speak about my first task in this post now.

Meeting people in the park was a good learning experience and I'd like to mention few conversations I'd with the people there.

- The first person whom I spoke to was an old woman who was busy reading mantras and shlokas from a book. I apologized to her for disturbing and went ahead to tell her what Kilikili was about and invited her to the event. She smiled, heard what I said and told me If she meets any disabled kid, she'd let the parents know about the new equipment in Coles Park.

Now that was a good start I thought...

- I reached the skating area in the park where these equipments were going to be installed before 30th. What made me happy was, I saw young moms and dads who'd come to drop their kids for the Summer Skating Camp, coz now I got more people to whom I could speak to about Kilikili and educate them on the same :)

- I met many young moms mostly :) which is typical coz "dad's out for work" you see :). But I did meet a middle-aged man who had got both his kids there for their skating classes. I spoke to him about Kilikili and told him the company I work for supports the same. He then said, "I work for Intel and you guys are doing a good job. I'll surely let parents of any disabled kid know about the same".

- Standing at the small gate where you'd enter into the skating area, I was busy waiting for more parents to drop in. Just then, the watchman at the gate came up to me and asked me "Madam, what's this all about?" I told him about Kilikili and instantly he smiled and said "Oh yeah, I know about this. I heard that the equipment will be installed tomorrow. Give me few handouts. I'll distribute them to more people before the event." :)

Sir, I really admired you for that. Thanks for volunteering!

- I also met a sweet young couple who sat there on the bench beside the fence of skating area. They were so patient to listen to me and were really happy with the idea! They said they'd let people know about it too!

- While all the incidents I have mentioned above made me so happy and encouraged/inspired me, there were also few others moments which pissed me off! I met few annoying people too. There was a middle aged mom posing off with her camcorder standing outside the fence, shooting the video of her kid skating. She came and sat down on a bench there, after the video session. Few minutes later, I went to her and spoke..

Me: "Excuse me Madam, I am Swetha. I work for an organization called Kilikili. Can you see the kids play there in the slides and wings? There are these special kids who can't really access the same. And Kilikili will be installing new equipment for the same. In case you know any differently abled kid in your vicinity, please let them know"

Before I could complete this, she interrupted me with an expression "Do I care?" on her face and with a chewing gum in her mouth,

She said: "There's NO disabled kid in my vicinity" and turned her face off.

I couldn't stop myself from giving it back to her. Immediately I added,

Me: "It's great to know that there are no disabled kids in your area. That's exactly what we wish to see and hear from everyone some day."

All in all, it was one amazing learning experience for me because this was the first time I'd ever gone on an awareness programme educating people about this NGO which wants every child to PLAY without any discrimination!

In the next few posts to can read more about the event on 30th June and the interesting things that we encountered in our awareness programme outside Coles Park.