US mentors for needy kids- American volunteers help children celebrate summer fest
Aug. 5: They sang two of Robert Kelly’s evergreen numbers — I believe I can fly and I am a mountain — and performed Bihu dance, had their faces painted with colours, and even took part in a few games for a good part of the day, today.
Thanks to American volunteers — Derrika Hunt and Kevin Wu — about a 100 students of Parijat Academy, a school for underprivileged children at Pamohi on the outskirts of the city, went beyond classroom education and engaged themselves in activity-based fun and frolic, during a daylong summer festival at the institution.
Taking the lead was Hunt, dressed for the occasion in a colourful sari.
She had come all the way from Florida about a month back, to teach the children and involve them in activities such as arts and crafts.
“The purpose of Parijat Academy Summer Festival was to celebrate a day with the children who are truly amazing. They engage in intensive study throughout the year, despite all odds. Many of them come from poor backgrounds and don’t have access to the best of things,” Hunt, a 25-year-old postgraduate student of Florida State University, said.
“From day one at the academy, I was amazed at the dedication and perseverance of the students. I was humbled when I saw them walk long distances, just to attend school. Therefore, Wu and I decided to do something special for them, to make each of them feel valuable and worthy. The smiles at the end of the day told me that our efforts had not gone in vain. I was particularly impressed on how quickly they picked up the lyrics of the songs that I taught them,” she added.
Apart from the songs, dance and games, a gardening exhibition, activities such as egg decoration, poetry recitals, and other activities were also part of the programme.
A science student from Maine, Wu, had come to the school in June, and organised a series of health camps and interacted with doctors over the past two months.
“I had visited about 50 families in villages around Pamohi, and was surprised to find their low-level of understanding on health awareness. I coordinated with doctors and organised a number of health clinics for the families. Besides, I had also volunteered to set up a greenhouse made of bamboo and plastic. It will basically house an organic vegetable farm. The idea of the project is to make similar farming methods a means of earning a livelihood in the area,” Wu, the bespectacled 21-year-old, clad in a white cotton kurta for the summer festival today, said.
Uttam Teron, founder of the academy, said this was the second summer festival organised at the academy by overseas volunteers. “While we have our annual school functions in March, this was a one-of-a-kind programme,” he added.
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