Summer holidays may mean globe-trotting tours for many. Priya Adhyaru-Majithia talks to those who prefer to do it ‘hatke se’ by going on field trips, learning Sanskrit and doing social work

A group of eight like-minded mothers from Prahladnagar, Vastrapur and Satellite are running special holiday programmes for underprivileged children under an initiative called Abhisar. The group, which includes Ritu Jain, Puja Agarwal and Rashmi Dokania, decided to forcus on Makarba village since they noticed the area was lagging behind its posh neighbours. “Over the past two years, we have set up basic academic and vocational infrastructure for underprivileged kids there,” says Jain. “We have recruited teachers and professionals who teach academics and the arts during the academic year. The eight of us also devote an hour every day to interact with these kids,” Jain adds. This summer, Abhisar has grown to include a summer camp which includes selfdefence classes, craft classes and sports. “We wanted to help these kids to spend their holidays happily in constructive ways. All of us bring our own kids along as well,” Jain says.

Now a stay-at-home mom, Pimmi Mehta uses her vast experience as a travel consultant to plan half-day field trips for kids under 11 years of age. “I first experimented by taking a few kids on a short visit to small-sized enterprise during the last Christmas break,” she says, “and it clicked.” This summer, Mehta has come up with a series of field trips to ice-cream plants, and trips to religious places including temples and mosques, chocolate-making units and iconic spots of the city including Gandhi Ashram. “From 9 am to 2 pm, I take small group of students on field trips to various places. My main aim is to make each trip both educational and entertaining,” she says.

Anmol Jain has a social conscience that seems to belie her age. The 16-year-old motivates friends, family and her community to share their spare time and articles with those who need them though her Share-a-Spare project. She stays true to her mantra of “If not now, then when? If not me, then whom?” by spending her vacations with underprivileged children in her neighbourhood. She gathers toys, games, food items, clothes and books to distribute it to various organisations and hospitals. “Teens are mature enough to understand the problems faced by our society and innovative enough to develop and implement solutions,” she says. “This is my summer activity. I want to inspire my friends to utilize their spare time, resources and energy to bring happiness to others.”

Sanskrit is making a comeback, with more people are signing up to learn verses, pronunciation and conversational skills of what is usually considered the language of the ancients. Sanskrit scholar and educator Mihir Upadhyay gives special holiday classes in the language to students ranging from five-year-old children to senior citizens. “We organise Bal Sanskar Kendra and Sanskrit Shibir to teach Sanskrit verses, their meaning and pronunciations, as well as conservational skills,” Upadhyay says. Due to the rising interest in these holiday sessions, Upadhyay has recently introduced four e-learning sessions, aimed at NRIs. “We have added on-line learning feature due to rising demands from NRI kids and professionals wanting to use their holidays to learn Sanskrit,” he says.

Sixteen-year-old Ahana Rao has just returned from a 10-day trip filled with concerts and art, accompanied by her mother Archana and eight classmates. The group joined more than 1,500 students at SPIC MACAY’s international convention in Kolkata, which featured legends such as Girija Devi, Pt. Birju Maharaj, and Pt. Shivkumar Sharma. “Apart from attending all the concerts, Ahana undertook intensive vocal training sessions, while I learned block printing and bandhej techniques,” Archana said. Shivangini Dasgupta, a student who was part of the group said, “We were all very excited to spend the holidays listening to classical music by stalwarts and learn art and craft. This vacation offered us a creative outlet that refreshed and recharged us.”

This write up appeared in Ahmedabad Mirror on May 30, 2013

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