Child for Child: Spreading values of empathy

Children are the future of a nation. It is very important that they grow up to be responsible citizens who are empathetic and sensitised about happenings in their family and in the society. Keeping in mind the above points counsellors and volunteers from Smile Foundation’s Child for Child programme visits various schools and conducts engaging sessions for the young minds. It sensitises children towards various causes and let them realise their privileged status. The programme was initiated in the year 2006 and involves sensitising privileged children and their parents, towards the existing inequalities around them.

In such a sensitisation drive the students of Colonel Satsangi’s Kiran Memorial Public School, Chhattarpur, recently attended an interesting interactive session with Gloria Paul, a resource person from Smile Foundation. Titled Child for Child (CFC), the event urged them to be sensitive towards the feelings of children who belong to backgrounds different from the one they belong to. As a resource person, Paul’s role involves working with school children through talks, workshops and movie sessions wherein she sensitises students towards the concerns of one another.

The event at the school was an open discussion that she held with the students. Opening the session, she asked them, “Do you enjoy smearing friends’ faces with cakes on their birthdays?” Based on the replies, Paul further told them that while many of us tend to waste food, such as cakes, either for fun or because we see others doing it, we should also be aware that there are children who don’t know what cakes are or even when their birthdays occur. Her words had an immediate impact on the young minds. One of them named Aryan, who turned 8 that day, said: “I will tell my friends not to waste the cake by smearing it on my face. Instead, I will request them to share it with children from a family who live near my home. They are not wealthy and stay near my society”. Next, Paul asked whether any of them had termed others as being poor, ‘privileged’ or ‘underprivileged’.

Paul has been running active under the Smile Foundation initiative called ‘Child for Child’ in schools across Delhi-NCR for three years to make children more empathetic towards young and old alike. The school authorities as well as students appreciated the initiative. “Our school has had a long association with NGOs like Smile Foundation. Every year, Paul addresses the students and gives them an insight into the challenges faced by those from varied sections of society.

Such activities have helped us to instill values such as compassion and empathy among students,” said Savita Arora, principal of Bharti Public School, Swasthya

Vihar. “The workshop was an eye-opener. It taught us how to bring smiles on the faces of many children we meet,” said Class 12 student Bhumika Nagapal from Bharti Public School. Concurring with Bhumika’s view, Sarah Patrick of Class 6 from Father Agnel School, Gautam Nagar said, “I learnt the lessons of caring and sharing in the real sense. I also urged my relatives and neighbors to do the same.”

National director, Child for Child, Vinit Vaidya said that the idea behind the initiative is to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. “While some children lack access to basic amenities and opportunities, a vast majority has all these things in abundance and often tends to take them for granted. It’s easier for students to learn from such school events,” he added. Supriya, a Class 6 student of Smile Foundation’s Mission Education Centre, said, “They taught us many things. I never understood the importance of education and considered it as being boring. But all the volunteers made it so interesting. Now I can’t wait to attend the classes!” The sessions also focus on extra-curricular activities. In the words of Rhithik, a Class 3 student of Mission Education Centre, “We were taught dance, games and aspects like how to succeed in exams.” Mahek, a Class 4 student of Don Bosco, Chandigarh, said “We really enjoyed time with the teachers.” Activities such as interactions, workshops and movie screenings help students view.

Child for Child currently reaches out to nearly one million privileged children in 900 schools spread across 417 districts of India, every year. In addition, their parents and teachers are also involved in the process. The programme has today reached out to each part of India with the exception of Lakshadweep.

(This article had formerly appeared in Hindustan Times; May 7, 2019)

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Smile Foundation

Smile Foundation is a national level development organisation directly benefitting over 400,000 children and their families every year, through more than 200 live welfare projects on education, healthcare, livelihood and women empowerment, in over 950 remote villages and slums across 25 states of India.

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