SAVITHA SURESH BABU

Here's hoping each year is as full of fun.

The beginning of the year is the time to make new resolutions and start afresh. It is also the time to celebrate all the joy the previous year had held, and hope for more of the same in the days to come. For around 120 former child labourers, 2007 began with a bang. With a magic show, balloons and whistles, a special programme that had been organised by Prajna Counseling Centre, was an ideal children's day out and a great way to begin the year. For a day, textbooks and uniforms were put away. Homework was forgotten. It was time to party. The programme had been organised at a hall in Taj Manjuran on recently. As for the kids-they had a blast. All the children were given balloons, caps, whistles and masks with New Year written on them. These were valuable possessions you could see it in the manner they clutched at the caps, and carried the masks back home.

Great fun

They were meant to perhaps think back of the day and smile again. Singing, dancing to popular tunes, and playing a great many games didn't seem to tire these kids at all. These were magical moments for the children. Magician Sooraj Shetty enthralled the kids with tricks, that included changing the colours of towels, changing the cards, collecting coins from the air, and so on. A tasty meal was part of the programme too. The day was memorable for all the children, who once toiled to earn their living. All the children who participated in the programme worked in hotels, houses and quarries before. They had been rehabilitated and brought to the mainstream by the Prajna Counselling Centre by providing six months training in formal and informal education. So far, the centre has rehabilitated 630 child labourers. These children now stay at hostels run by Prajna, and pursue their education. The children have started a new life. Here is hoping this year, and for many years to come, are full of happiness for these kids, and others like them, who still labour on and are yet to be rescued. Hope next New Year, more of them can celebrate the beginning of a year by not carrying stones or serving at hotels but by singing and dancing.