A campaign to make school students aware of the need to help children from less privileged backgrounds

A group of children in rags lie abandoned in the streets. They have nothing to eat, no new clothes to wear and are constantly taunted by passersby. They have nothing to call their own. Right next to them is a group of educated youngsters, armed with gadgets in their hands, enjoying their food. While the kids in the streets ask them for some food, they are nudged, pushed and abused by the group. The bun that a swish kid throws away becomes a street child’s food for the day.

These were a few scenes from a play performed at ‘Standing Up With A Million Indian Children’ campaign, an effort by Shanti Ashram to ensure the rights of children, and to work for their progress and protection. The aim of the campaign is to ensure that all children have proper birth certificates, are aware of their rights and involve themselves in helping other children from their community. This play and a few other enactments delved into reasons for the poverty and made an impact on the over 2,000 children who showed up from various schools at PSG Public School Grounds.

People who have been actively involved in doing their bit for the less privileged right from their formative years also took part. “My parents are doctors and have been conducting free medical camps for villagers in and around Sirumugai for many years now. This inspired me to start doing something for the less privileged in my own way too,” said Siddharth Manoharan, volunteer and activity manager for Small Differences, a charitable trust that feeds the abandoned and buys them clothes and blankets. Siddharth also wants to get the children involved in community service initiatives and make them aware of their responsibilities. Siddharth donated the money from his proficiency prize in school to victims of the 2001 Bhuj earthquake. He is also a member of Make a Difference (MAD).

The event turned out to be an education of a different kind for the children themselves. “Lectures on poverty and disparity that we give in the classroom don’t normally stick in the minds of children for too long. On witnessing the way a few abandoned children were being treated in one of the skits, these children had tears in their eyes. They also saw a diverse group of children, some of whom didn’t even have clean uniforms to wear, and immediately asked me what they could do to improve this situation,” said Kavitha Lesley, teacher of English and co-ordinator for co-curricular activities at Yuvabharathi Public School.