Shortly after Gina and Manu arrived in Mumbai and talked about their plans to bring as many smiles as possible to disadvantaged kids during their stay, they were introduced to a small NGO called “Anstrengung United” (AU).
These guys do a brilliant job and accomplished something fantastic: over the past 3 years, they managed to take about 40 kids from the streets and slums, made them “study” instead of “begging” on the streets. Every evening at 7pm these kids (4-17 yrs) meet on a stretch of a walkway where volunteers help them study.
Through these efforts, those kids were given a choice. With the help, time and funding of AU (in alignment with their parents) they were put into schools, got school uniforms & bags, notebooks & pens. Once people from the surroundings – more privileged communities – noticed, that these poor little people are gathering there every day, they started to pass by and donate drinks, food and sweets. To us, all these people are heroes.
So, there was no doubt that our on-site Bringing Smiles members would support this amazing initiative and will have one or the other fun project in store. Regularly, Gina and Nidhi join these “classes”, sit with the kids on the floor and help them with the alphabet, English or math. And every time they are simply overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and strong will of these boys and girls to learn. It is so nice to see that – where most people throw their trash just on the street – these kids, even the youngest, proudly walk a few meters to the next dustbin.
They were thrilled when Manu joined for a drawing session, the kids cheekily insisted on him drawing templates they could fill with colors. Most of the time Gina went there, she brought little surprises along which were either for each individual or for the whole group to discover. But this was always just the cherry on the pie, the real joy for them was the time and honest attention they received…
A true highlight was when Leon and Jill (family of Manu & Gina) joined for an evening. Having guests from abroad and especially a kid coming to help them studying was something very special. The candy someone had given to each kid that evening was directly handed to their guests as gifts – with a bright smile. Sharing the little they have is their way to say thank you. You could see that not only these kids but Leon and Jill were experiencing one of their most memorable moments for themselves…
When we accompanied the kids on their way home for the first time, we had to smile away our tears. Some kids were just stopping and pointing to their families whose homes were bare traffic islands. Then we were deeply impressed: while the children introduced us with shining eyes the parents stood up, full of happiness and proud, shaking our hands and thanking us. They cherish and are thankful for what they have. Their belief is that they are lucky as there is always someone worse off. So, we might have taught these street kids, but they taught us as well…
Besides these ongoing teaching activities we have 2 events coming up soon. Stay tuned! And now enjoy watching moments with these amazing kids! The smiles on their faces are contagious 🙂
August- December 2014,