When we lived in the City, some friends and I used to conduct a Sanskarvarga for children in an underprivileged area. I have written about it earlier in this post.
One thing that we had to remind most of the children about was cleanliness.
In that locality, the water supply was around an hour every evening. Some of the residents did not have the means to store much water in their homes. So their children would leave the Sanskarvarga a bit early to take their baths when the taps started running in the evening.
At the beginning of every session we would ask the children whether they had washed their hands and face before coming, and we would regularly tell them the importance of cleanliness
Scarce water meant that the children would wash their hands only if they were convinced that it was really necessary.
One friend in our group made it her mission to do just this. She would inspect the children’s hands at every class, and praise those whose hands were clean.
A few of the children had scabies [skin infection] on their hands and had to be persuaded to get treatment for it. There was a clinic in the Workers’ Welfare Center where we conducted our Sanskarvarga. The local residents could get treated for common ailments/ diseases there for free.
So my friend would persuade these children to go to the clinic. She would meet their parents and make sure they continued the treatment.
After a few months the children got into the habit of coming to show her their clean hands at the beginning of each class, on their own, without being reminded. This was a real victory for her. A small one, many might feel, but very rewarding!
Once I was telling the children about Lokmanya Tilak. They listened in rapt attention to stories of his childhood. Of how he tried to awaken national spirit against the British oppressors. Of how he promoted the idea of celebrating the festivals of Ganeshostsav and Shiva Jayanti as social festivals.
I also told them that he started two newspapers- the Kesari and the Marattha, and that the Kesari was published in the Marathi language. I then asked them whether they knew which language the Marattha was published in.
They glanced at each other. Nobody knew the answer. One girl decided to hazard a guess. “The Kesari language”? she asked.
Well, I suppose that was a logical answer from a child’s point of view. If the Kesari was in the Marathi language, then the Marattha had to be in the Kesari language! It didn’t matter that there was no such language in existence!
Quick question for my blogger friends- in which language was the Marattha published? 😀