A Little Dream, run by Reena Chowdhury reaches out to children who don’t have a home
When was the last time a poor child celebrated his birthday? Does he even dare to dream when he is wide awake? “Yes,” says Reena Chowdhury, the founder of an NGO called A Little Dream (ALD).
“I always had a passion to work with such children and was drawn towards those who had less than me. So I learnt as a child that giving out of excess was not giving but giving out of sacrifice is.”
ALD has volunteers from IT fields and college students who reach out to street children, child labourers, children in distress including abandoned children, children of sex workers and those from the urban slums. They are aged between six and 16 years. “Why should one put off such dreams till he or she is old? Why not realise them when you have the energy and the passion?”
“As a child I recall that besides basic education I was also trained in fine arts and music, but children in NGOs miss their chance to explore their creativity. That’s where ALD comes in,” explains Reena, who adds that she visits NGOs in the city and encourages children to express their dreams through drawing, music and role play. “Some dream of being kings, some cricket players and some music teachers.” This is called the touch base camp, which is a one-day camp where “we identify children with talents. Then it’s a three-day camp where we bring in people trained in the fields to work intimately with the children and the third will be to help them get scholarship to learn these arts.”
Reena comes from an advertising field and later shifted to the IT world, which brought her to the IT city. And she also found that these children wanted to celebrate their birthdays. “It started with Karthik, an eight-year-old boy suffering from a rare blood disorder called thalassemia. Because of his interaction with ALD, he contacted us and told us he wanted to celebrate his birthday. “Though he was in the hospital on the bed, a group of volunteers reached him and created a fun and frolic atmosphere for him. We took pictures and helped make the day special for him. A couple of days later we got a call about his death. When we reached his parents and gave them pictures of his birthday they thanked us for giving them something to remember him with,” recalls Reena.
Now birthdays are also a mission of the ALD. “We have reached 1,900 children since 2010, when we started. We have also started reaching out to the rural children. My weekend starts at eight in the morning and goes on till seven in the evening. I work in tandem with various NGOs in the city. We plan, shop and organise every camp. They get rudimentary food so we offer them something fun and exciting when we organise these camps,” says Reena.
She also has a passion to work with differently-abled children. She recently worked with blind children, but says that we will need to have people trained to work with such children.
To look for volunteers she visits colleges in the city to create awareness. She has created a programme called “Give Your Time a While”, where she invites youngsters to just visit one of her camps and observe the workings of ALD.
ALD can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 9845211797. Follow them on https://www.facebook.com/DALDArtCamps.
This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track.