“Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant. ”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
In 2006, on a consequential day, a group of college students from Cochin took a momentous step towards Making A Difference in the lives of some gifted and talented but not so opportunistic children. What started as a step driven by passion to teach children living in orphanages, the language of English and computers, became a major project and finally an organization in major cities across India to hone them towards dreaming as big as any of us.
Make A Difference was founded in 2006. From then till now, about 1000 volunteers have been going MAD around 3500 kids in 16 cities across India.
These kids who have been forsaken in the hands of orphanages have no choice but to accept life as it comes.They aren’t even aware of the capabilities they possess to achieve milestones in their lives career wise.Confronted by the harsh realities that life brings with it,these kids never learnt about dreaming big. Thus started the journey of making these kids go MAD and eventually presenting them with a chance towards life that they rightfully deserved.
The MADness begins with a standardized structure, passion and a vehement will. MAD implements its duties and missions through MAD App - a web volunteer portal which takes care of the operational part of MAD.
MAD not only has confidence in the commitment of every volunteer, it also makes sure to create classroom teaching efficiency in them through curriculum, process, teacher and syllabus training (by CELTA) once an aspiring volunteer emerges victorious through the 5-step selection process (including 2 telephonic interviews, group discussion, mock teaching session and personal interview).
Days in the life of MADness begins with every Saturday and Sunday brimmed with interactive and picturesque study of communicative English designed and customized to meet MAD standards consisting of the use of laptops and projectors which gets these kids acquainted with ‘technology-driven systems’.
If this wasn’t enough to make you think twice about the boring textbook-ridden school life you had, here’s more…
Camping MADness brings with itself single-day or overnight get-togethers organized mostly during the vacations. MAD camps are filled with arts, crafts, music, dance, sports and adventures like mountain climbing and so on to bestow upon these kids every opportunity to discover their hidden talents. What follows are the placement activities where children are taken to field trips to various institutions and industries that introduces the endless list of options available to them. From Nehru planetarium to Parle-G factory to I.T company ATOS (in 2010) where they were exposed to a whole new world of technology just at the petite age of 14!
Remember when we as kids went to an IT company for a field trip? Oh wait! That never happened!
And then there was Michelle Obama. *sigh*
Meeting the First Lady of United States was an altogether different experience. But what was more overwhelming was having the kids meet her. Being able to create a prestigious ‘dear-diary’ moment in the lives of these kids has been an amazing milestone in the life of the MAD Organization.
MADness in Mumbai began in 2009 with a mere group of 7 college students and within an year it expanded itself across five centers reaching a count of 200 kids and a base of 100 committed volunteers.
MAD Mumbai currently functions in the following centres:
- St. Catherine’s school, Andheri (West)
- A.D Bawla Centre, Versova
- YMCA, Andheri (West)
- Snehasadan, Jogeshwari
- St. Francis D’Assisi, Borivali (W)
The MADdening experience of Mumbai President Pari Thakkar in her own words:
Q: How did you start out with MAD?
P.T: About 7 college students started out with MAD. Tanmay Arora, who was one of the founders of MAD Mumbai happened to be a very good friend of mine. Hearing from him and due to his encouragement I went forward with volunteering for MAD.
Q: How long have you been associated with MAD?
P.T: MAD started out in Mumbai in the year 2009. I have been affiliated with it ever since and the attachment with the kids keep me going further.
Q: Wow. 3 years! And the inspiration and motivation to keep going is?
P.T: Well I started out by fluke, but a few innocent but impressionable incidents have had the kids create a magnetic effect on me. One such incident was when I was a teaching volunteer at A.D Bawla and I once failed to turn up for one class due to illness. Out of concern, the kids who I taught not only enquired about my absence with the other volunteers then present but also compelled him to call me up so they could wish me good health and good recovery.
Q: From the journey of being only a teaching volunteer and now the President of MAD Mumbai, how challenging has the journey been?
P.T: There has been an immense maturity in the way I work now. Also having to juggle so many responsibilities of not only managing the volunteers but also assisting and managing the Vice-Presidents of MAD Mumbai has changed and taught me a lot since it is a very difficult job. Overall, it has taught me many lessons which I can use in my work at MAD and my own life.
Q: What was that awe-inspiring or overwhelming moment or incident in MAD which you can never cease to forget?
P.T: One incident was when the kids celebrated my birthday. They inquired about when my birthday was and since that day they started collecting 1 rupee. They made cards and blew up balloons filled up with chocolates and ribbons. They also gift wrapped a desk calendar with ribbons and celebrated my birthday. Another one was while I was in my second year with MAD as a teaching volunteer at YMCA. We happened to finish the class early one day and had some time to spare. This got us to playing Dumb-charades with the children to kill time. While playing I noticed two kids sitting way behind scribbling on a piece of paper. On questioning their absence from the game they reasoned they wanted to draw but they weren’t ready to share it with me. At the end of the class, the boy, named Sagar handed me the paper which had a picture of a boy lending his hand out to a taller girl. He said he was the boy and I am the tall girl. The thought of these kids looking upon us as role-models and their guides in life brought a lump in my throat. Even today, I have that picture framed and treasured.
The MAD journey or rather the MAD way of life begins with
The passion to go MAD
The commitment to be MAD
And that moment when you see that kid, you taught, succeed and make a life he/she otherwise would never had dreamt of.
So go ahead and get set to give what taught got you and go MAD!
[To volunteer or incase of further enquiry please contact: [email protected]]