Children seen playing in a public park under the supervision of volunteers from Vizag Children's Club in Visakhapatnam
Visakhapatnam: A group of women in their early thirties were out on a picnic with their family members on a fine Sunday in 2009 when they realised about those living in slums and deprived classes whose children barely come out of their homes for picnicking and make merry in the amusement parks.
Losing no time, their thoughts were put into action and they formed Vizag Children’s Club and began their activities the same year. After making extensive visits to the slums they understood the conditions prevailing there and about the children and the hurdles they have been facing to educate themselves.
``There is no childhood in their lives as the parents leave for work leaving them behind at the mercy of neighbours,’’ M Satya Kumari, co-founder of Vizag Children’s Club. Talking to this correspondent, she said they formed 90 clubs in various parts of the city with an enrollment of over 5,000 children. Each club has strength of 30 to 70 children and they are run by around 100 volunteers.
More than formal education, the volunteers imbibe scientific temperament by inviting members from Jana Vignana Vedika who also teach them the importance of asking questions in classrooms and in general society so that they can be shaped into responsible citizens. The women volunteers keep visiting schools to tell the management on how to take care of adolescent girls and the health problems they face.
Some of the volunteers visit schools before examination and counsel them on how to prepare and they themselves teach them mathematics and science subjects in the clubs. Asked on how they were managing the activities without collecting donations from outside, Satya Kumari said on important occasions like Balatsov which was held for three days in Ba Bapu Bhavan, the Club received donations from Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Visakhapatnam Port Trust and Hindustan Shipyard, which was less than Rs 1 lakh.
For other activities, they spend their own money. ``We are concentrating more on service by the volunteers rather than donations. Children who were members of the Club and now grown up, have joined us as volunteers,’’ she said. In order to assess the work done by the club, annual meetings are held at the city and zonal level which gives them feedback basing on which performance is improved every year.
Listing out the activities that were carried out recently, Satya Kumari said during Dasara holidays, the children were taken to places like Kondakarlava, Tumpala, Bojanna Konda. During summer, they were taken to Araku Valley, Tatipudi, Bhimili, Totapalli and Steel Plant. Refresher camps are held to help the Intermediate pass students on the selection of general professional courses that would fetch them employment.