Empowering the Children in Thane

BY: Sneha Nayar-Bhalerao

As an immigrant in United States, I always desired to contribute towards my country and always attempted to look for opportunities that would allow me to do so. Very soon, I came across Vibha – a NGO that works for underprivileged children in India and U.S. I have been associated with Vibha since early this year and learnt about the various projects they were associated with. During Vibha’s National Conference we were encouraged to visit projects in India and to experience the execution of the projects along with the allocation of funds. Prior to my travel to India, this year, I connected with the project team in Mumbai and they arranged my visit to three different projects conducted by CORP –India.

The three different projects were situated in Thane in two slums: Indira Nagar and Kailash Nagar. A project supervisor named Haseena, guided me to the location and stayed with me throughout as she gave me a beautiful tour of the three projects. We started at Indira Nagar, in one of their project locations, where trained teachers of CORP provided additional coaching to children from PicMonkey Collagedisadvantaged backgrounds. Parents of these children were either illiterate, lacked knowledge to help their children in school work, or lacked suitable space to study. It was really interesting to see the discipline they demonstrated. As I walked in, they demonstrated the skills they learned there. Young children recited poem recitals and older kids shared their school work. Haseena, introduced the teachers, and I got to watch as the teachers helped each child grow.

Our next visit was to La Creche, a child center supported by CORP. Creche focuses on the first few years of a child’s development especially those whose parents are occupied earning their daily wages.  While parents leave for work, their children are dropped off at La Creche where trained teachers work with them developing their social skills. As I walked in, children from the ages of two to five were learning songs and poems. These songs helped them develop emotionally and behaviorally. Our last stop was at Kailash Nagar, a shelter home where child children inflicted by HIV, orphaned, abandoned, or abused were provided an environment of care, support, healthcare, education, and proper nutrition. As a counselor, I have worked with children with deprived backgrounds, but this was truly an overwhelming experience. These children are not  discouraged by their situation, though. They were all incredibly talented performing dances and showing their drawing.

While the entire experience was memorable, my favorite part was watching the children perform their Bollywood numbers. I am a dancer, and I could relate to their expression of emotions through dance. The confidence they had at such a young age was commendable. The time spent with the toddlers was also rewarding. I feel blessed to be associated with Vibha and it really feels good to see that the money raised is getting implemented for the right causes and for bright futures.

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