Written by Deepali
It was a regular preschool Saturday with a huge difference. Today I was going to welcome six children from the Bethesda Life Centre. These were children with diverse ages who access a preschool center within their institution. The children are between five and eight years, but even the older kids had just started schooling. The caretaker who was in charge told me that they are comfortable with Hindi. I shook hands with them. Two of the three girls were eager but the third one was very shy. Two of the three boys were timid. They were probably scared and nervous of the new environment. But the toys strewn around and the books and some early birds already in the play mode must have eased their minds. They quickly got down on their knees to join in the playing. The girls were busy touching and reading every book that they could lay a hand on. They were simply awestruck with the board books and flap books. During the story time, they were eagerly answering questions put forth to them. I was happy that they felt comfortable enough.
I was a bit skeptical at the beginning about our regular children and how they would behave with children who are older and possibly different but my fears were totally baseless. Our regular PSM children included them in play and everyone became the same – children with no barriers. Kevin even shared a joke with Uday and between both of them, they happily giggled.
We were creating a collaborative crocodile based on a wonderful book, ‘Crazy Charlie’ by Ruth Brown, which was being decorated by all the children and every one had finished their turns when Tanu came and caught my hand and kept on looking at the crocodile. When I asked her if she wanted to do more of it, she nodded her head enthusiastically. She finished the sticking of the crocodile on her own.
This day was a unique experience for me as well. In all my years of work I have never worked with children who are institutionalized and away from their own homes and I realized that children are children, and the Bethesda Life Center is a home that appears to be nurturing open ness and warm curious minds. . They touched my heart with their eagerness and Tanu promised me that ‘Main kal bhi aaungi’