Manjunath is a resource person for academic and cultural activities in school

I am passionate about working with children. But before I discovered my love for children, I worked in Canara Bank and took voluntary retirement in 2001. I started pursuing my hobbies which had taken a backseat earlier. So from sitting behind counters, it was off to following my passions like cricket, theatre, music, reading, trekking and other adventure activities.

After a couple of years I started working with my wife in a school as a parent volunteer. That’s when my bond with children began. We did theatre, sports and other games and activities for children in schools. Then we also started working on science by using waste material and making toys as well as teaching children to do simple experiments. That was also when my sister-in-law started an organisation which had a branch called Balavihar that reached out to schools, including government, aided and unaided, that lacked certain facilities. We realised that some of them did not even have a library. So we started creating libraries, which later led to the building of our mobile library. This opened a whole new world of books for children. Then we tied up with an NGO called Asha For Education. This opened doors for us to reach out to schools with theatre and other cultural activities. We teach yoga, music, theatre and so on.

During one of these sessions, a parent from a well-known Montessori school saw my work and I was invited as a resource person. There began my journey independently, sans the group. Once a week, I work with Balavihaar and the rest of the week I visit schools like Creative, Magic Puddles and Namma Shaale. Since I am a voracious reader, story telling too became a part of my repertoire.

My work with children led to extensive theatre and voice exercises, exposure to the lives of people like Gandhiji, Einstein, Galileo and to know our own states like the heritage of the Cauvery river, History of India, the British Raj among others. When it comes to performing a play, I allow the children to take the lead in deciding the roles they want to perform as through the training they recognise their own strengths and weaknesses.

It’s a fulfilling and a challenging job, which is like a workout… painful while you are at it, but the end result is brilliant.