Hello Brother!

Hello Brother!

Indians place a high premium on family and relationships. For us, love for family comes before wealth and material acquisitions. Much before the world began to celebrate days honouring specific relationships like friendship day, father’s day, and mother’s day, we Indians have been celebrating days that honour the purity of relationships. Take Raksha Bandhan – a festival that reinforces the bond of love between brothers and sisters. Not only does it foster ties within the family, it also strengthens the social fabric of our society as it extends beyond blood relations and promotes love and respect between individuals not related by birth.

Bond of Love

Year after year, Thane’s schools celebrate this event in wonderful ways, implanting Indian values in children, and ensuring that not only will the tradition be kept alive, but will continue to be celebrated with fervour in the future. Among the most touching celebrations of Raksha Bandhan is organised by the Sri Ma Snehadeep School for Special Children, situated at Patlipada. On Friday August 18, students from as many as 18 city-based regular schools, including Vasant Vihar School, Saraswati (Panchpakhadi), New English School, Hiranandani Foundation School, Bharat English High School, Carmel School, and St Xavier’s School, participated in the 8th inter-school Integration Programme.

It is difficult not be moved when you watch children interacting with their less privileged counterparts. It was a moment to savour when special girls from the host school tied rakhis to normal boys from visiting schools, just like normal girls from visiting schools established bonds with boys from the host school. The rakhis used were as special as the programme because they were all made by the student of Sri Ma Snehadeep.

The excitement of the special children was palpable and was adequately reflected in the welcome speech by a special student called Aniruddh Dongarkar. Addressing the visiting students, he said, "We’re happy that you all come when we invite you in spite of our school being located so far from the city. We’re thankful to you for accepting our invitation." The speech lasted for one full minute, an achievement considering that the Aniruddh is an MR child, and evoked a huge round of applause from the audience. The chief guest, R S Gurav, who is the Assistant Charity Commissioner of Thane District, too was visibly impressed by the programme and envisaged a bright future for all the participating children and also for the schools that encourage their children towards such noble acts.

The objective of the annual programme is to create awareness about special children among normal children. Students of regular schools observe special children, talk to them, see them moving around and singing before an audience and learn about their capabilities (such as making rakhis, selling them and so on). The interaction brings the special children closer to normal kids and also serves to dispel any wrong notions, if any, about special children in the minds of normal children. Special children need love and acceptance more than anything else and the Integration Programme was therefore a truly joyous occasion for them. The Principal of Sri Ma Snehadeep, Manju Tejwani, said, "Just a smile, an acknowledgement, or a simple hello by a normal child can brighten a special child’s day. If, as a result of this programme, a normal child sheds his inhibitions towards special children and reacts positively to them, I will feel the programme has achieved its objective." In fact, the Integration Programme may evoke more than a mere smile or acknowledgement from a normal child. For, the next time one of the participating girls sees a special boy, she will remember her rakhi brother!

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