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The goodness of being MAD

SUNIL NALIYATH
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SERVICE WITH A SMILEVolunteers of MAD with the children from an orphangeBy Special Arrangement
SERVICE WITH A SMILEVolunteers of MAD with the children from an orphangeBy Special Arrangement

ORIGIN: What began in 2006 as a humble, modest attempt to impart elementary English language lessons by four friends of Sacred Heart College, Thevara, has now flourished into one of the most successful community service student initiatives in the country.

It was a chance visit to one of the poor homes in Kochi by a few students that culminated in the formation of Make A Difference. And today, it has centres in as many as 23 cities in the country with a professional organisational structure.

In Kochi alone MAD has been reaching out to students in nine orphanages/shelter homes and the classes are meant for students studying in classes five to 10. From 2010 onwards MAD has been following the syllabus of the Cambridge University.

ACTIVITIES: The activities of Make A Difference are coordinated by a core team of 20 volunteers in each centre. To be a volunteer one has to undergo a stringent screening process.

Once selected, each volunteer will have to remit a refundable caution deposit of Rs. 500. The fact that of the total 15,000 applicants last year only 1,400 were selected as its volunteers says it all.

The volunteers are trained to spawn an emotional bonding with their wards first. Field trips, as and when necessary and celebrity interaction are also part of the training.

A group of five to 10 students are taught in a batch and each batch has two teachers. The classes with duration of two hours are held twice every week. The classes have helped many discover their own talent. It has substantially improved their language skill and has helped many students to improve their employability factor. Jyotish, who has attended MAD classes is now pursuing his studies in U.S. A placement cell and events cell are the two upbeat arms of MAD.

“We teach them basic grammar lessons in English. As far as possible we make them learn through numerous activities and the texts are designed in a colourful way to make them more appealing”, says Krishnan Menon, one of the volunteers of MAD.

There is a general notion that today’s generation is a happy-go-lucky lot and is not socially inclined. But through MAD we are giving a rejoinder to that perception, he adds.

The funding is raised mostly through individual sponsorships. They also raise money by selling T-shirts through volunteers and friends. Of late, corporate houses such as Google are supporting MAD as part of their CSR programmes.

IMPACT: Undisputedly, the biggest impact that MAD could bring about in the lives of underprivileged children is a remarkable quotient enhancement in their self-confidence.

It has really made a difference in their otherwise tattered, nondescript life and could reinvent the inherent inner energies which could have simply gone unnoticed.

GETTING IN TOUCH: To know more about MAD and their outreach programmes call 9995194102 or mail: publicrelations.cochin@makeadiff.in. website: www.makeadiff.in or follow them at www.facebook.com/

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