“I happened to meet a group of children on the way for a movie one evening and they asked me where I was heading. Their response to my movie plan was to mention they’ve never seen a movie before. This sentence of theirs stayed me for weeks,” said 30-year-old Shreya Soni, a former management consultant who went on to create Picture Wala, a unique entertainment and cultural arts club for disadvantaged children.
Through movies, short plays, sports, art, music and comedy, the club engages and entertains these children and fuel in them, a sense of creativity and community.
The club, which started in 2013, has reached out to many children groups in Delhi. In these five years, Picture Wala has seen a positive transition in these children.
Taking about one such child, Ms Soni told NDTV, “Muskan, one of the earliest attendees of Picture Wala workshop, was a shy and reserved girl. Within eight workshops, we started noticing a visible change in her confidence levels. Her grades in school started getting better and she was voicing her opinion with more thought and enthusiasm.”
Muskan is now a leader and holds workshops with children in slum areas.
Like creative experiences, granting wishes has a huge impact on a child’s well-being. Witness to this is Deepak Bhatia, CEO, Make A Wish Foundation – India, a non-profit organisation, which fulfills wishes of children who are suffering from life-threatening diseases.
“In my four years of working with this organisation, have seen how granting wishes to these children has a miraculous positive impact on their health. After their wish is granted, they not only co-operate with the treatment procedures better, but also develop a strong will power and want to get cured sooner. This, the doctors have also testified, has helped them recuperate faster,” Mr Bhatia told NDTV.
Sharing one such story, Mr Bhatia said that at a tender age of 9, Rahul Jediya had to undergo a kidney transplant. In one of the informal sessions with the Foundation’s volunteer, he had mentioned that if a genie appeared in front of him, his wish would be to meet the God of cricket Sachin Tendulkar.
Genie, in this case, came in the guise of this volunteer who left no stone unturned to make Rahul meet his idol. The generous cricketer obliged and right before Rahul’s surgery, his wish came true.
Mr Tendulkar told him that he would meet him again and they both will play cricket together after he recovers from his surgery.
“The meeting had a positive influence on him and he co-operated well during his crucial surgery. It gave him the assurance that his other dreams in life can be fulfilled too,” said Mr Bhatia.
Rahul, now 12, has gained weight and recuperated well. He wants to help other children realise their dream, he says.
Another initiative, that is bringing entertainment and joy in the lives of less fortunate children is BookASmile, a charity initiative of BookMyShow, that takes children for a fun-filled movie outing.
Calling this a necessary alternate education, Farzana Cama Balpande, who heads the initiative, said, “While most of us consider going to a movie as a casual outing, there are hundreds for whom this is still a luxury. We have been instrumental in giving many people their “first movie experience” in a theatre. The thrill and excitement when they step inside a cinema hall is palpable,” she said.
Magical things manifest when you move away from your comfort zone, Ms Balpande said, adding, “Doing different things in the charity space only means that you are creating more opportunities for those who are not privy to them.”
As these thoughtful initiatives continue to touch lives, they are looking for more like-minded people to join their causes and make the world a better place.