“MAHER” in Marathi language, means ‘mother’s home’…a place where a child finds safe haven, love and joy. Blessed I am to have had a home where I received all the unconditional love of the world, pampering, education and freedom. But this world is a cruel place and there are many who have been abandoned, abused and left to fend for themselves.
And it is for such destitute women and children that Sister Lucy opened her heart through an NGO ‘Maher’ in 1997. This NGO, registered with United Nations, tries to help children and women to learn life skills and stand on their feet.
In day to day life, we are often busy fighting our own wars to regularly give time to lesser fortunate people of the society. But a little love, even sometimes brings immense joy, not only to people who are thirsty for a little compassion but also to us if we care enough. Recently, a celebration of Mother’s Day at ‘Maher Ashram’, Wadgaonsheri, Pune, did just that for my teenage daughter and me.
After taking a few wrong turns, I did land at the right place and was greeted by Rakhi from World Of Moms. She (and her team) had asked me to join her in spreading a little happiness in lives of kids at ‘Maher’ through coloring and other fun activities. Palmers, a US skin care company, was the associate partner for the celebration. Little did I know that two hours will fly away soon and it would be an effort to pull away from such adorable, wide-eyed and eager to learn kids.
Yes, they were eager little kids…and no sooner we announced that they could choose between playing with clay-doh or indulge in some drawing and coloring than they clamored for the Camlin Modeling Clay packets! Armed with a clay packet myself, I sat crafting shapes after ages…I had last handled clay when my own daughter was a toddler. This time even she sat down amidst kids feeling all important and grown up at 14 years of age.
Creativity was overflowing and out came blue elephants, purple brinjals, green caterpillars and yellow snails followed by butterflies, cars and robots. Imagination took wings taking the kids to a wonderland with multicolored objects taking shape in their tiny hands. Someone wanted to make train and other wanted us to help with a ball of dough while some were just too shy to put a name to balls of clay that they managed to create…
Enthusiasm soon spilled over on drawing sheets. With Camlin art kits that included safe to use non-toxic oil pastels, color pencils, paint brushes and poster colors the room seemed to suddenly fill up with young Picassos and MF Hussains all ready to outdo each other! Cartoon characters began coming alive on sheets; ‘Chota Bheem’, ‘Chutki’ and ‘Raju’ stared at us from the drawing books; a rainbow of colors emanated from the little excited hearts spreading laughter, satisfaction and sense of achievement on their faces.
While I did manage to entertain and teach kids some clay craft, it was my daughter who became their go-to-person in the drawing activity. She helped the kids draw and paint, and time just flew…
Kids are the most truthful beings. A few hours with them left a deep impact on me. I am so glad World Of Moms asked me to join them in their Mother’s Day celebrations this year and some of us mommies got the chance to spread love. My thanks to Palmers too, for helping make this event possible.
The best and most unexpected reaction, however, was from my daughter. She exclaimed,“This was the best summer vacation activity that I did, Mumma!” Not only was I elated at her reaction but also felt proud of the compassionate streak she displayed. Being a kid herself, she connected well with the kids at Maher. And it was her reaction that perhaps taught me my biggest lesson.
The adult world’s boundaries of religion, caste and status do not stop kids from having fun. The uninhibited simplicity, uncomplicated trust and carefree attitude of children is what the world needs today.
Let’s all become kids again and make this world a better place!