Month: July 2006

The BIG Party

The BIG Party

Children love birthdays. They love the cakes, the music, and the celebration. But not all children are fortunate to have their birthdays celebrated. Take for instance the students of Jidd School, who face the double whammy of being mentally challenged as well as hailing from poor families. Their parents are mostly daily wage earners who can barely manage a hand to mouth existence. Therefore birthday celebrations of their children are a luxury they cannot afford. But children being what they are, they crave for them nevertheless.

mass birthday celebrations Shyamashree Bhonsle, principal of Jiddh School, recognised the strong desire of her students and decided to do something about it. With the help of Inner Wheel Club of Thane Hills (IWCTH), Bhonsle came up with a novel idea – to have a mass celebrations once every month to wish all students whose birthdays fall in that month. The first such occasion was on Wednesday June 28, 2006, when 21 students whose birthdays fell in April, May and June (because April and May fall in the vacation period,) was celebrated at a time.

On the morning of June 28, all the students of the school were excited and one could hear them chattering away happily as they waited eagerly for the song-singing and cake-cutting ceremonies to begin. When Bhonsle asked them to describe why the day was special, they all said in unison that it was a birthday celebration when songs would be sung, a cake would be cut and there would be the traditional aarti. They were bang on as soon afterwards the 21 birthday boys and girls were made to sit on a stool one by one while other students performed aarti. The mouth-watering, two kg butterscotch flavoured cake was then cut amidst songs and applause. One teacher even sang a Marathi birthday song. Dr Kalpana Suradkar president of IWCTH and Dr Veena Chandavarkar were among the others who cheered the birthday kids as they rejoiced.

The next celebration is due on July 25, 2006, when July born children will have a go at the cake. This monthly affair might not sound like a big deal to the rest of us. But if you were to look at the joy on the faces of the children, you hearts would swell. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.”

Against all odds

Against all odds

So often we hear about people who surpass our expectations and beat what appear to us as the most difficult of challenges. They serve to remind us that the human mind is capable of doing anything at all. Take the examples of Mrugank Vaidya and Vivek Venkatesh, Std X students from Thane, who have managed to surprise many with their performance in the board exams.

Two physically challenged students beat the odds

Mrugank cannot see. He lost his eyesight when he was barely two months old, while in an incubator, owing to excess of oxygen. But his lack has not prevented him from obtaining 67.33 per cent in his board exams. What’s more, he attended Sri Ma Vidyalaya, a regular school, and also took the exams with the regular students – except that he used the help of a writer.

Mrugank’s own attitude has been given a boost by his loved ones – his parents Bipin and Smita Vaidya, and his grandfather, Vasant Vaidya have stood behind him while he crossed the hurdles that came his way. Sharvari Deshpande, Sri Ma’s headmistress (primary) revealed, “Oral examinations are a part of the assessment programme in our school and Mrugank too had to take them. In his lower classes, he had to take a reading test like the other students. So we would mark the passage for his reading and his mother and grandfather would train him to read it using the Braille script. His grandfather has really been a pillar of support to him.”

Mrugank’s achievement has made his parents, grandfather and his little brother very proud of him. His father works for a securities broking house and his mother is a housewife. Mrugank is quick to point to his grandfather as his moral support, whom he fondly calls anna.

Mrugank, who is fascinated by an odd combination of cricket and the stock market, wishes to pursue a career in music. He loves classical music and has been learning the tabla for the last five years. Asked how he prepared for the exams and whether he was tense, Mrugank said, “I was not at all tense. I believe in thinking and acting positively.”

Like Mrugank, Vivek Venkatesh too has managed to take on the SSC board exam head on, by scoring 62 per cent in spite of being severely challenged. Vivek suffers from acute muscular dystrophy, a condition in which the muscles of the body get weaker and weaker and slowly stop working.

A student of Sri Ma Bal Niketan, Vivek has been forced to take to the wheelchair. So dismal is his condition that he finds it extremely difficult even to hold a pen. But his proud mother Padma reveals, “Although his physical condition is regressing and his limbs are growing weaker, he managed to write his papers by himself – without the aid of a writer. Vivek was diligent, he was regular at his studies and prepared for all the papers on his own. He mainly used to read the textbooks and used to solve papers from past years in a given time frame.”

Vivek is a resident of the Tikam Society in Kopri colony. Unfortunately, Vivek lost his father to leukemia when he was in Std VIII. He has an elder sister who has just completed her graduation in commerce. Padma is grateful to R Nirmal Jothi, the then principal of Sri Ma Bal Niketan High School and Junior College for the confidence she showed in Vivek’s abilities by allowing him to appear for SSC board exams as a private candidate through the school. Padma is all praises for Vivek’s grandmother who has been an instrumental force in motivating Vivek.

Vivek is adept at using the computer. He has a liking for chess and plays it quite often. He reads the newspapers and keeps himself abreast with current affairs. Vivek wishes to take up and aspires to become a chartered accountant when he grows up.

William Somerset Maugham has said, “It’s a very funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” Mrugank Vaidya and Vivek Venkatesh seem to know this and are determined to get the best out of life. With such an attitude, these boys are sure to do well in every exam that life throws at them.