Volunteers of Udhavum Ullangal provide inmates of 20 orphanages a day to remember: gifts, good food and above all, oodles of love. Vipasha Sinha reports
It was a cracker of a celebration for the 1,616 children from 20 orphanages across Chennai and Sivakasi, who came together at Krishnaswamy Kalyana Mandapam, T. Nagar, on Sunday last. It was a special Deepavali, one that enabled them to make friends beyond their own orphanage. More than that, they received the message that people are looking out for them.
“I have been part of these celebrations for eight years and I love coming here. I get to meet old friends and make some new ones,” says 13-year-old Baskaran, from Karunya Illam, Madambakkam. What makes him happier is the time he gets to spent with volunteers of Udhavum Ullangal, a public charitable trust that reaches out to people in distress.
“This is a one-of-a-kind event where the beneficiaries, the NGOs, the volunteers and donors come together and celebrate the festival of joy,” says Sankar Mahadevan, founder trustee. The preparations started two months in advance, with volunteers having to do lot of leg work.
They were asked to go to orphanages and take measurements of every child to get new clothes stitched for them. “They also noted down the children’s choice of colours and design. We gave the children breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. All of them got watches. The girls earrings and hairclips as well, ” adds Sankar.
Most volunteers who spared their time for the event work in IT companies. Even people from the entertainment industry had come along. .
“It was a day-long programme, where people put up a dance show, sang, conducted a magic show and several other entertainment programmes.
A team from Infosys, Bengaluru, comes every year to participate in the event. All performances were given free of cost. The owners of Krishnaswamy Kalyana Mandapam give us the space for free every year,” says Chandrasekar, another volunteer of the NGO.
Udhavum Ullangal works towards education and health care of less privileged children. The volunteers of this organisation have mentored and adopted many children and supported them in their education, many of whom are first-generation literates.
Vijaya from Sivakasi used to work in the brick-making section of a construction company after finishing standard 12. A volunteer spotted her and helped her join Mac School of Nursing. “I want to work hard and get a good job. I have come this far because of some good-hearted people. I want to be like them and help as many children as possible.”