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Last week was the best week of the year for many children in Tamil Nadu, including myself (a big kid!). Summer camp was held by SCAD for differently abled children from surrounding villages. 60 children with varying physical and mental disabilities came to Anbu Illam for five days, all with one objective – to have fun.
‘Fun’ is not usually a word associated with children with disabilities from rural underprivileged villages in Tamil Nadu. A combination of cultural attitudes, ignorance and lack of resources condemns these children to a life of exclusion and great hardship. Parents are often not able or willing to give their disabled child the time, love and attention they need in order for them to live a happy life. Summer Camp provided an opportunity for children to be children and to come away from any difficulties they face in their home life and spent time with other children and caring staff.
SCAD objective was for these children not only to have fun but to build their self-esteem and confidence; to motivate and empower them to realize that they are equally as important in society and that they have rights and abilities just like everyone else. By bringing these children together SCAD shows them that they are not alone.
The five days were packed with creativity, learning, dance, sports, games and adventures – not to mention magic! Every evening was spent with children and staff on the stage dancing, singing and performing. Self confidence grew over the week and by the end most children had shed any inhibitions and were going for it! I have never heard so much laughing and screaming. Smiles were from ear to ear.
Saleem who is 15 said that his favourite thing was riding a bike, he would take it out in the morning and at the end of the day make sure it was put away. During charades he acted as a very good camel and made everyone laugh. His big personality and great sense of humor was loved by everyone.
Marimuthu, a visually impaired 12 year old boy played the drums for the first time at Summer Camp and he performed on stage with a group of singers. He played fantastically and he said he really enjoyed the week.
My favourite bit was the trip to the beautiful picnic spot. We all excitedly clambered into the bus and sang and danced all the way there. The music was blaring Tamil tunes that the children knew and everyone was dancing and singing. Even SCAD staff were showing off some dance moves down the aisle of the bus! We arrived and played some games, including a hilarious animal charades and had some snacks. We all loved sitting next to the river and enjoyed the setting sun and fresh air.
This fantastic, colourful and eventful week not only gave children five days of fun but it also enhanced valuable self esteem and confidence.
By Kate Hartley