It was one wonderful rainy day in June when Sujata and I had set off on a picturesque drive to Borim, a quaint place with greenery everywhere.
We had gone to visit Swami Vivekananda Prasarak Mandal School. We were to start our LiS program in this school and we wanted to see the place to figure out the logistics, meet the Headmistress and the teachers, get an idea about the children, etc.
It was a very warm welcome that we received, and after a tour of the school premises and some genuine heartfelt discussions, we promised to get in touch with them soon about more details. This kept getting postponed due to financial constraints and the rainy season passed away.
Suddenly during the Diwali break, we received the absolutely great news that we can now afford to go to Borim. There was a flurry of activity in the library – children’s names had to be taken, name tags and name lists to be made, registers, activity books to be prepared, story books to be chosen for each class, stationery boxes to be prepared…
After several calls and discussions, it was decided that Friday would be the day the LiS team would start at Borim. It was the first Friday after the long Diwali break. From Panjim, it took an hour with a couple of stops to ask for directions as the driver, Jewel and Rohini did not know where the school was located and I had not kept any landmarks in my mind during my previous trip with Sujata. We reached the school, which has an old quaint house for the Kindergarten classes, with new buildings built behind it for the older classes. A mix of old world charm with the new and modern…
We again received a warm welcome from the Headmistress who was waiting eagerly for us and showed us our classes.
It was a lovely first session during which we introduced the children to Bookworm Library, a new game, song and new story books. They were agog with surprise when we distributed books to each and every one for browsing. They wanted to read as fast as they could. Amidst all this excitement, Jewel entered the classroom, dressed up as a Book Doctor and the concept of book care was explained to the children. They promised me that they would take care of these books.
The children were given their activity books and there was surprise all over their faces to see their names on these notebooks. They had to fill up the blank sheets stuck on the cover of the notebook with their own unique creative drawings. They filled these sheets with joyful colours. The children were very excited when they came to know that they could now borrow books and take them home for a whole week. The children, initially nervous, over the course of the session became very interactive and extracted promises from us to return next week again. There was a sense of awe in their gaze with the knowledge that we had come all the way from Panaji. My heart soared in this lovely tranquil surroundings, soaking in the warmness and welcoming energy of everyone from the school.
It has just been two sessions at the time of writing this and yet there is a sense of knowing this place, its surroundings and its children…a sense of homecoming.