"Dad bought me a toy drum one Christmas and I eventually destroyed it. I wanted a real drum and he bought me a snare drum. Dad continued to buy me one drum after the other," said Keith Thibodeaux, a former American child actor and musician who began playing drums at the age of three!
Hundreds of children belonging to economically weaker sections of the society here are not as fortunate as Keith was. Their hearts swell with sorrow and eyes are wet every time they see colourful toys glitter under electric bulbs in the roadside shops. Toys are considered a luxury in families leading a hand to mouth existence.
"It need not be so any more. The situation can change and none other than children themselves can bring about the change," says M. Rahmath Nisha associated with FOHRD, a non-governmental organisation here. She has started a ‘toy library’ where the privileged children share their toys with children in need.
"We collect the toys from donors and dole out to Balwadis (playschools) administered by the government or NGOs, orphanages, special schools for the mentally and physically challenged and other such schools. They are rotated every month among these institutions to ensure that children are not bored with the same set of toys," she adds.
Says S. Syed Ahmed, Managing Trustee of FOHRD, “Assistance in the form of food, clothing, shelter and books reach the needy to a certain extent. But toys do not, thereby depriving the kids of the joys of childhood. This is where hundreds of good hearted children studying in private schools can play a role.”
The toy library should turn into a mass movement. “Schools can encourage the child philanthropists by awarding additional marks in their internal examinations. Similarly, business establishments such as shopping malls can also play a part by serving as collection points for the toys,” he suggests.
Even a single toy, board game or any other play thing donated for the cause will make a huge difference. There cannot be a bigger joy for a child than putting a smile on another child’s face. Possibly this is why Rabindranath Tagore said: “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of humanity.”