The S4BCA students of Department of Computer Science and Applications recently found a creative way to conduct a fundraiser for Amrita Niketan, the orphanage and boarding school for disadvantaged children in Paripally, Kerala. The orphanage, run by the MA Math, is celebrating its 25th anniversary and the students wanted to help mark this achievement. They decided to conduct a workshop on Java as a fundraiser. They hoped to create an educational and affordable (50 rupees) opportunity for students of the institution, and at the same time generate the funds to sponsor a meal for the children. Additionally they planned to gift each child a notebook, pen, pencil, scale, sharpener and an eraser, as well as some sweets. With a little financial support from their faculty, the initiative succeeded. The students reported that they were able to buy the items wholesale, and packaging the sets for the children was an exercise in itself!
On February 1, 2015 a group of students and faculty headed for Parippally, about 60km away from the Amritapuri campus, to meet the students and offer them a meal and gifts. They were surprised and excited to be met by the Panchavatyam ensemble. (This is a traditional sacred percussion ensemble.) It was Amma’s idea that both boys and girls should learn this traditional art and the youngsters excel in this, and annually make their way to the State Level Youth Festival competition, where they have won first place more than once!
The students wanted to serve the children lunch themselves and were impressed with how happy and disciplined the children were. All the students had a chance to serve the youngsters, who all sat on the matted floor in a disciplined manner, waiting patiently till everyone was served. After which, all the children recited the 15th chapter of the Sanskrit Bhagwad Gita in unison instead of immediately starting to eat, a lesson in patience! The Niketan children attend the neighbouring Amrita Sanskrit Higher Secondary School, managed by the MA Math. Most of them take Sanskrit classes and love the subject!
After lunch, there was a 90 minute cultural program which was thoroughly entertaining. The students excel in song, dance and drama and win awards every year in the District and State Youth Festival. In turn, the institution students entertained the youngsters with songs by Athira and team. After the cultural program, everyone went outdoors where they played soccer and led the children in a variety of games like sack race.
After serving late afternoon tea and cake, it was time for the group to head back to campus. It was somewhat of an emotional time, with at least a few children on the verge of tears to see their new friends leave. The institution students also felt sad to say goodbye to the sweet children and hoped to come again. They explained that they got to know about life in an orphanage, and this was a reminder of how fortunate they were: a reminder that while most of us complain about almost all trivial problems and issues in our lives, these kids, who come from such troubled backgrounds, are so seemingly happy. Indeed, they noticed how everyone at the orphanage seemed quite happy with the state of things. They shared that they could see Amma's Love and Grace at work, taking care of the poor and needy.
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