On May 21, 2012, the Bridge Builders took up a one year long project ‘ GURUKUL’ at the Eklavya Institute for street kids to inculcate good values in them & encourage them to be socially and emotionally strong.
The Eklavya Institute is an organization that provides street kids with the basic requirements like food, clothing, shelter and most importantly education free of cost. Currently this institute houses about 65 kids in the range of 4 to 14 years. Those who are not able to provide a livelihood for their children and are homeless, from different places, seek admission at this institute. The children are educated at a school run by the government and are provided with wholesome meals.
The Bridge Builders decided t o contribute to this institute’s cause by conducting some unique sessions for the kids that aimed at providing value based moral education, personality development, vocational training and cultivating good habits so that the kids could grow in strength socially, emotionally, and spiritually. These sessions also aimed at giving the kids a glimpse of Dada’s life and teachings.
A group of Bridge Builders under leadership of Project In-charge Mrs. Shradha Tejwani, conducted a session on every Saturday from 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm. These sessions covered wide range of topics like cultivating love, faith, compassion, forgiveness , cultivating personal hygiene, cleanliness, information of Indian Dieties and festivals, singing and dancing classes, and so on.
Every session commenced with a prayer in Hindi given by Dada, followed by meditation or singing of bhajans and kirtans that lasted for a few minutes. This was followed by training and imparting knowledge related to the theme decided for that session. These training sessions involved showing videos, story narration in Hindi or Marathi, playing games, art and craft sessions, and dramatization of the related theme. Each session was concluded with the thanksgiving prayer, Shukrana aye khuda and distribution of prasad.
In the personal hygiene and cleanliness sessions, various audio visual charts, pictures, and videos were shown . Also, simple things related to personal hygiene such as washing of hands, brushing teeth everyday were demonstrated. The importance of cleanliness of our surroundings was communicated. The volunteers demostrated by cleaning the place where these kids lived, with brooms, rough rags and mops to emphasize the value of cleanliness. The entire process gave the kids a feeling of responsibility and belonging.
Besides this, various festivals were celebrated with the children in a unique and fun way. For Raksha Bhandhan kids made rakhis. They were taught the significance of a brother and sister relationship. Beloved Dada’s birthday was celebrated with great gusto with the kids by narrating to them stories on forgiveness, showing Beloved Dada’s video and distributing sweets and cakes. The kids also made a lovely card for Gurudev. For Janmashtmi, a dahi handi activity was arranged for the kids. The kids had great fun breaking the handi filled with chocolates. For Ganesh Chaturthi an animated film on Lord Ganesha was shown to the kids and various aartis were performed . Also, a professional was invited to conduct dance sessions for the kids and to train them on the song Deva Shree Ganesh. For Teachers’ Day, the children created beautiful cards expressing their love and gratitude for their teachers. For Dusshera, videos were shown to impress the life of Lord Rama, his fight against the evil Ravana, and the victory of Lord Rama. Diwali was celebrated with Lord Rama’s kirtans and stories. Children also enjoyed bursting of crackers with the volunteers. Some sessions also included cultivating reverence for some great ones. For instance some animated childhood videos were shown of Shri Hanuman, there was story telling on the life of Sai Baba and his love for his devotees .
On the occasion of Sadhu Vaswani’s birthday on November 25, the volunteers took the children to experience the marvel of the Darshan museum which is based on Sadhu Vaswani’s life and teachings. They also took the children to the Sacred Samadhi and around the Sadhu Vaswani Mission premises. The children were thrilled with the whole experience and enjoyed this fun cum inspirational trip.
There were also some training sessions for spoken English for the kids. The children were taught the English alphabets, speaking simple sentences, recognizing English numbers from 0 to 100, and so on .
This was a one year project came to an end on the April 5,2013. The end of the session was marked by a thanksgiving celebration party with games and variety of food for the kids. The project was a challenging task undertaken by a group of volunteers. For the volunteers it was a delight to see kids grow and learn in the name of God, good values, and qualities of sharing, caring, giving, loving, and patience. Also, conducting these sessions helped them learn and grow themselves and cultivate qualities of patience, love, and empathy. At the end of the sessions, the volunteers came to share a beautiful bond with the kids which they will always cherish .