This time of the year calls for small moments of introspection. Yes, sounds clichéd. Time to give back… even more clichéd! Well some tender moments of Clichédness will not harm that much… I hope! We have been involved with the following events or drives that promise to ‘give back something to society’. In some places the involvement has given me a lot of emotional solace, specially Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs and Mums who Share. We have been consciously trying to get the Z-Sisters involved with something more meaningful than just having fun on our vacations – like visiting the Firefly Children’s Home (above) in Nepal. This post is not requesting you to do anything for that matter. I’m just sharing these moments from our special experiences…
Firefly Children’s Home
Children’s Orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal
We have no intention or objective in wishing that the Z-Sisters see a world beyond the comfort of their flower-painted walls of their room. Not an attempt to make them realise that they are more fortunate than many others. We simply wish that they open their eyes and their minds and may grow up being sensitive and tolerant to the many differences that exist in the world we are living in. No major sacrifices, no giving up the ACs and their favourite toys but visiting places where they can see children of their age living in a drastically different condition. I feel that the children in Dubai are growing ensconced in ‘illusion bubbles’. Over-protected and isolated from the real world. No harm in that. But lest they get hurt when the bubbles ultimately break and they finally step into the real world – we have been trying to take them to places that they are completely alien to. The above picture is from the Firefly Children’s Home (FCH), an orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal which we visited on our Nepal trip this year.
Before leaving for Nepal I had already co-ordinated with FCH and had scheduled a day when we would visit the orphanage. Big Z had initially wanted to carry all her soft toys but I wasn’t sure whether they would be reciprocated well. I asked Mr Karki, the administrator whether we could distribute some chocolates to the kids. As we approached the home we realised that everybody was expecting some visitors. The children were gathered in the hall in anticipation that perhaps the day was going to be a bit special for them. We helped Big Z to distribute the chocolates into small packets. The Z-Sisters were shown around the home. They were also told about the children’s schedule – the time they get up and what else do they do the whole day round. Big Z’s verdict – the children’s rooms were lovely (further above).
There are around 30 Firefly children who live in either the central Kathmandu home (which we visited) or a rural home in East Kathmandu. The center cares for Nepalese village children whose parents have either passed away, disappeared, are imprisoned or are too poor to feed them.
Showing poverty-stricken faces of urban cities like Kolkata is so typical & clichéd
People growing up in developing countries have a different perspective. Though I was fortunate to have studied in a good school and have grown up surrounded by loving friends and family, one constantly comes across people, on a daily basis, who are not so fortunate. As a car stops at a signal, little hands jut into the window asking for money. As one walks past the pavement it’ll take seconds to realise that it is perhaps home to many people (above picture shows a kid sleeping on a pavement in Kolkata at night). Did I grow up to be more sensitive? No, not at all. Infact I would see how the westerners – many of them young students, would come to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and help in the Nirmal Hridaya in the Kalighat area of Kolkata (this is a hospice established by Mother Teresa for the sick, destitute and the dying). I don’t think that my friends or I, growing up in Kolkata, would ever be able to do what these volunteers have been doing – live with the people they are caring for and in the most basic of conditions.
Showing poverty-stricken faces of cities like Kolkata is often slammed as a typical Westerner’s perspective and sounds clichéd. Or a NRI’s (Non Resident Indian’s) nostalgic and myopic romaticism. For me it’s definitely not the latter. But I’ve always shown and written about the beauty of my home town. All my friends are blaming me for showing Kolkata more beautiful than it actually is. For example, in writing… Living By The Water With Sunset As Prop – Kolkata & the Ganges.
I capture the way my eyes see at that moment. If it’s pretty and rustic – I capture it. And if it’s grimy and dusty – I also capture it.
Sometimes I feel that there’s not much I can do as an individual. Or perhaps I could do but can not do because my expectations from life is too high. HOPE has a lot of power. And with that power many a times I HOPE that the children of the hundreds of homeless who have created their rambling homes under the Gariahat Fly-over (above) and yet manage to play a game of football with their bare feet and a shape-less football at the end of the day, will someday be playing in some proper park or will be able to have 4 walls and a proper ceiling defining their homes instead of the space under a Fly-over! HOPE that the child sleeping on the pavement today gets at-least a bed and a pillow to sleep on tomorrow! (excerpt taken from an earlier post of mine)
“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing nothing for nobody.” ~ Malcom Bane
The following initiatives are in Dubai – the ones that we have associated ourselves with – either in a small or a medium or a big way. Big Z is already rehearsing for Christmas… lighting the candles every evening and cleaning all the baubles. What does Li’l Z do? Throw the baubles around as if they were ping-pong balls!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
7th Annual Stollen Charity Cake Sale
Kempinski Hotel MOE, in partnership with Mall of the Emirates (MOE), is holding the 7th Annual Stollen Charity Cake Sale on Friday, 14th December in the Central Galleria in MOE… At 570 metres long, this will be the largest cake made to date by Kempinski’s very own pastry chefs. At just 5 AED per slice of the German fruitcake and 100 AED for an entire loaf, all proceeds will be donated to the Dubai Center for Special Needs. Starts at 10.00am until sold out.
Gulf News writes about the cake… “It is customarily prepared and eaten only during Christmas,” said Sudgi Nadaff, the hotel’s executive chef. “Each of the loaves you see is 60cm long and we will be aligning them to make the 570-metre cake on December 14.” He said 14 chefs have been working on the dry cake over the last few days with “magnificent” quantities of the ingredients. They include 595kg of flour, 175kg of butter for the dough, 31.5kg of yeast, 265kg of raisins, 2,100 eggs, 105 litres of milk, 52kg of marzipan, 125kg of oranges and 114kg of lemons for their peel and 87kg of almonds. “The raisins, almonds and orange and lemon peels are kept soaked in orange juice for two to three days,” said Nadaff.
Dubai Center for Special Needs
This is a charitable non-profit organization for individuals with special needs. The proceeds of charity will go towards providing care and support for students between 4 to 27 years old at the Centre.
Tel: +971-4-344 0966; Website; Facebook
Donate A Shirt Drive by Mums Who Share
Mums Who Share (MWS) began as a simple gesture of distributing food on Thursdays on the traditional belief that this would bring in blessings and goodwill for family and loved ones. So, every Thursday a few mums would take time out to cook and pack food to distribute around the neighbouring construction sites with the focus being ‘sharing’ no matter how big or little the quantity. Today, around 400 workers are fed every Thursday and special donation drives during festive occasions – Ramadan, Diwali or Christmas when MWS has managed to donate Blankets, Special Care packs containing personal grooming items, Watches, Rucksacks, Shirts and a lot more. I have written about the incredible story of MWS earlier. The Gulf New’s Friday magazine featured us once.
Info: Visit Facebook page and drop a line and MWS will be too spring-clean your kitchen cupboard.
Smiles n’ Stuff at Al Noor
I have a special attachment with Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs, having visited the school many times. I have photographed the children, visited their fun fair, watched their fashion show and concert. Launched in 2010 Smiles n’ Stuff is a brilliant initiative to support individuals with special needs that goes beyond their training and education. This is the first Vocational Training store of its kind in the GCC, which is run by individuals with special needs to promote and sell items made by them.
You can click on this link and view the catalogue for the wonderful key chains, magnets, coasters, t-shirts, mugs, pencil holders, mobile stands and other unique knick knacks that can make lovely gift items. You can also buy chocolate and butter cookies and cupcakes made by the students of Al Noor.
Smiles n’ Stuff: 04- 3418960; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; The store is located on Al Noor’s premises, behind MOE in Al Barsha.
Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them as some of them have been taken from our personal albums just to make your reading experience more pleasurable. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.