Thursday, August 20, 2009

Independence Day celebrations

Hey friends…

Firstly congratulations to all of us!! With our country firmly forging ahead into her 63rd year of independence & dignity, LEAD too completes its exciting journey of 365 days steadily circumventing all the challenges on its way. And this achievement is a no trifle as it’s blended with our professional schedules as well as personal & family commitments!

Fortunately, LEAD shares its anniversary with our country’s most prestigious day & hence each passing year will provide us an opportunity to be proud of being able to DO something for our country in one of the most sustainable ways. I heartily express my gratitude to each one of you for your determination & support.

We wanted to celebrate this day with our entire LEAD family & hence parents of our children formed the main participants. On one hand, we failed to get the NHP School premises for this event; while on the other hand we succeeded in convincing the trustees of Jai Ambe Mahila Mandal (NGO) to wave off the charges (Rs.500/-) for their community hall. I, Ashutosh & Dhaval’s mom met on Thursday & we finalized the items to be given to each child. Thanks Ashutosh for dropping the prizes in our centre from Nerul. Prof. Mani had given a wonderful set of gift items for the first 3 rankers of class I & Class II each. All the 6 toppers received a beautiful shoulder bag, an exam pad, pouch, tiffin box, water bottle, stencil, pen, pencil, sharpener, eraser, note-book & a crayon box. While other 33 children received a gift pack containing a stencil, pen, a pencil box, sharpener, eraser, note-book & a crayon box.
Thanks to Rashmi, Kailash, Dhaval, Shefali, Abhilash, Jake, Avishkar & Arun for turning up on Friday evening (14th Aug). All of us instantly swung into action, neatly gift wrapping all the materials, purchasing the deficit items & personally informing parents of all the communities about the next day’s event. An idea of giving a first-aid cum hygiene kit to these families cropped in our mind. So I & Dhaval literally went on a rummage in all the medical shops to get 30 sets of Dettol bottles, tooth pastes, band-aids, cotton rolls & Sophramycin tubes. Thanks to my cousin Roopali for her kind donation of 30 Neem soaps & some pencil packets. Kailash & Arun tried a lot for the LCD projector but unfortunately it didn’t materialize. We all decided to meet early the next day to finish off the pending tasks.

15th August:

I & Arun left for purchasing some toys for our toddlers at 10am. Each boy was gifted a set of 2 cars while girls were given a pair of dolls. We ordered the snacks, got the flags & then headed for the centre to group up the items to be shifted to the venue. All the volunteers gathered at 1.30pm sharp. Thanks to Arun2 for being very punctual with his car ;-) (For those who don’t know, we have one more Arun with us, again from Patni who is an excellent artist & teaches drawing to our children every Sunday!! To avoid confusion, we call him Arun2 ;-) Shifting of materials was well-handled by him, Kailash & Dhaval. One of our ex-student volunteers Suraj too turned up with his 2 friends & helped us in gift-wrapping the toys & decking up the hall. Must mention, our senior citizen morning batch volunteer Mr. Padale beat the clock & diligently took up the decoration work. Nishant helped with getting the chairs from the nearby NMMC office, Kailash was cracking his head in fixing up our banner while Dhaval helped in getting the Big water bottle. No doubt, all of us were at the euphoric levels!! Meanwhile, one of our children Rajesh made a startling entry with his younger brother Shankar & mother. This was their first time & so his mother seemed to be perplexed wondering about the hundred things going around! While I made them sit on a mattress, I still recollect the glimpse of happiness & curiosity in her eyes. Roopali’s mother too arrived on time with her 4 daughters, Santosh & his hyper-excited friend. Shefali, Abhilash, Jake & Dhaval’s mom had arrived by then almost followed by our enthusiastic lot of children & their parents. For the first time, Airoli Gaav people beat the Sector-17 community by turning up well on time. Surprisingly, they even thronged in with larger numbers than Sec-17. Our senior volunteers will definitely cherish this moment ;-) Richa & Avishkar gave us a pleasant surprise by suddenly turning up at the eleventh hour. Kailash & Arun left to receive Prof. Mani while I zoomed out for Sachin & his friends Babita & Avinash. Got through Karmayog, this team of volunteers does the commendable task of awakening & empowering the people who prefer pinning their hopes & frittering away their money on Tantrik & Baba-log rather than Medicine/Doctors.

We decided to heighten the patriotic mood by airing the audio visual “Vande-Mataram” & then commemorated the vigor & sacrifices of our brave soldiers through the legendary melody “Aye mere watan ke logon…” Needless to say; everyone remained glued to their seats. Everyone looked so beautiful with our tiny tricolor flags flashing near their hearts. I shared few words with children about our Independence Day & then handed over the dais to Prof. Mani, when he convincingly, with a firm & soft tone, explained the children & their parents about the importance of education, discipline & hard-work. He praised the performance of our children, congratulated the entire LEAD family for its conviction & then promised all the possible support for this cause. Kailash too delineated the parents about work/role of LEAD as a ‘sanstha’ (NGO) & the important role ‘they’ need to play in this process to pull their wards out of the affliction. The parents too corroborated with this part. This was the first formal announcement to our communities about our team as an NGO.

This was followed by the eagerly awaited event of the day—Felicitation of our children for their sparkling academic progress. First we announced our 6 star performers. Arun insisted that these students be accompanied by their parents too. What an idea Sir-jee ;-) A real heart-warming show! Their innocent smiles & humble posture not only evinced their profound happiness & feelings of pride & achievement but also clearly radiated the vibes of gratitude towards LEAD. To invigorate this, the cynosure of our eyes -- Vinod & Maruti --, after zealously receiving their prizes, confidently extended their arms for a firm handshake with their Sirs & Madams on the dais. And all this amidst a thundering applause!! Announcement of almost every name was followed by a spring like action from the children’s side & then a run for their booty. Do catch everyone’s expressions on this link:

Our girl Sita had turned up with a special sari & make-up for this event. Sunita, Reshma & Surekha were also neatly dressed. In fact Madhuri had sprinkled some zari powder in her neatly combed hair ;-) All the girls looked so beautiful & happy!! We should have taken their group photo ;-( Thanks Dhaval & Shefali for getting Sunita & Thanks Arun for getting Mallesh & Surekha from their homes.

After this, Sachin’s team started their show with a sweet song that acted as a good ice-breaker. A series of mind-boggling demonstrations that literally grabbed everyone’s eyeballs! Lighting up the fumes & fire, a dry coconut breaking off to project the black stuff in it, & much more, to fill up the atmosphere with intrigue & curiosity! The group also actively involved some of our children & one of their mothers in these stints, thus making a mockery of their fanatic behaviors towards superstitions & ‘Tantrik’ or ‘Baba’ groups. How skillfully these cons exploit their ignorance & poverty for their selfish petty interests. Offering a chicken will cure their children, Karni, Jaadu-tonaa, Vashi-karan & what not!! We don’t know how successful we are in quashing their delusions, (though some follow-up leading questions did reveal some confession) but it was an attempt to batter & root out these stupid practices at least from the impressionable minds of our young children.

Then it was a masti-time. The audience was divided into 3 parts. While ladies were engaged in the race for pushing in maximum number of needles in the thread in one-minute, the fathers hurried up for grabbing up maximum number of pairs from the 3 packs of playing cards scattered on the floor –this too in one minute. I am sure the elders definitely would have had a fun-ride! Of course, the children shrieked in hoots of excitement when we announced about the limboo-chamach race. (Contenders race up while balancing a spoon & a marble in their mouth) The winners were also given the spot prizes (a small idol of ganpati). The best part was when our small girl Sangita beat other elder girls in this competition!! An atmosphere full of joie de vivre!!

Hunger pangs had already started hitting our children & so the volunteers immediately snapped into the action of pepping up the dishes for snacks. Thank You Shankar & Beena for doing this wholesale shopping of Wafers, chocolates, plates & glasses from Mulund ;-) Some of us rushed out to receive the order of Samosas & Frooti. While some of them had started tucking in the stuff, our children Anil, Vinod, Maruti & Masoba were happily & hurriedly volunteering with us -- serving the dishes ;-)
This was followed by giving away the hygiene cum first aid kit to each family. While doing this, we also explained the directions for usage & importance of each item. As their tummies & hands were filled up, it was difficult to hold the horses now & so we ended with our national anthem & the hollering the slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jay!” Families were allowed to leave merrily while the volunteers, after doing some pet-puja, started gearing up for their next set of tasks —cleaning up the mess, sweeping the floor, unwinding the gadgets, dumping the waste, shifting the materials back, etc…

Friends, this was a day signifying the unabated passion, unalloyed joy & unassesable spirit of entire LEAD family, thus fluttering high the flag for its next phase of journey. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart not only for your unstinted support for this cause but also for the unwavering faith that you have bestowed upon me.


Thanks & Regards

Rupesh S Gesota

"A body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.".... Mahatma Gandhi


  1. Keep up the good work...Kudos to the entire LEAD team who make things happen!

  2. Thanks to prof.Mani for not only supporting us every single time but also for coming to the event as chief guest.Thank you sir!!!