Sunday, November 17, 2013

TCS dress donation @ Deepam

TCS, Chennai made a noble initiative to donate dresses to all our kids on the account of this year's Deepavali. The event was held a week after Deepavali on 9th Nov. Deepam wishes to thank TCS on this wonderful gesture that was recieved very well by our kids and volunteers. Some pictures from the event are attached

Excursion to Planetarium- VRS Center

With incessant rains through night, it looked like we wouldn't have enough kids to take for the excursion today. And so 3 of us went to the school to make sure the few who turned up, went back home safely. Much to our surprise, we had a full strength of 20 kids and after a lot of discussion, deliberation and confusion, we decided to stick to the plan and take the kids along in 2 cars and an auto. And as expected, it turned out to be a memorable visit to the Planetarium. 

Children were super excited to see live models at Transport, Ocean, Electronic & Communication and Mirror galleries. Children were then provided some refreshments which was followed by the astonishing 30 min cosmic show which was an absolute visual treat. The children were then taken to a 3D show with entertaining kids films. 

While the weather stayed spectacular from thereon, we returned back to the school after a magnificent outing. The photos will speak the rest of the story.

"Featured Volunteer of the Month" for Oct'13

Our endeavor to reward enthusiastic volunteers every month continues to be a testimony of Deepam's recognition for our volunteer fraternity.

In this order, Srividya of VRS center is our "Featured Volunteer of the Month" for Oct'13. A short write-up on her by the center head Abhishek Mundra is given below...

"Srividya is an extremely committed volunteer and has been an active volunteer with VRS for almost 2 years now. She participates pro-actively in all our efforts and makes valuable contribution when required. She was deeply involved in the 'Curriculum Planning' exercise and her spirited participation and involvement were a motivation to the Deepam Curriculum Team.
Srividya commutes an hour every Saturday, but that is no deterrent  She currently teaches the kids of the Advanced Batch at VRS and is very effective in her interactions with the kids. Kudos to her for a very deserving 'Volunteer of the Month' award."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Featured Volunteer For SEP'13-Anand Lakshmi Kanthan

 Anand Lakshmi Kanthan from WM center has been awarded the "Featured Volunteer of the Month" for SEP'13

A short write-up about Anand from Praveen (Center head for WM Center)

"A model volunteer for our center, Anand has acquitted himself with great dedication and love for the kids from his beginning at Deepam in 2012. Taking ample initiative, be it in helping with field trips, annual day or having a camera ready for every event,he amazes all with his 'can do' attitude. Never once has he sulked in travelling long distances every week from Vandalur to West Mambalam, or shall we say from one zoo to another. The children always adore him, and so do we ... Kudos Anand !!"

Monday, September 16, 2013

Deepam VRS center - Madras Day outing

As part of the Madras Week celebration across the city, there was an exhibition at the CP Art Center, Alwarpet. There were paintings, sculptures and models, describing Madras as it was many centuries ago, and chronologically tracing its history down the ages, until the British took over.    Today, VRS center kids were treated to a one-hour outing of this exhibition about the Madras Region before the British.  Our group of 18 kids and 5 volunteers reached there in ten minutes, after finishing off with the English session by 11.30 AM  Earlier two volunteers had checked the place to ascertain if it would be appropriate for our ten year olds. We were lucky to get one of the organisers to give the children a guided tour of the exhibition. He patiently explained all the facts in Tamil, pausing now and then to query them on some interesting facts..such as the origin of the word 'Catamaran', or how 'Mylapore' got its name.  Few visitors joined our group to benefit from the guided tour, and some friendly onlookers asked the kids which school they were from. For their part the kids were very well behaved, and attempted to understand the context of the exhibits. We relished the short outing as well as the sweet five star that was handed out at the end to each of us.

Here are some pics of the short and sweet Madras day outing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Featured Volunteer of the month" for Jun'13 - Balaji

Balaji from KBM center has been awarded the "Featured Volunteer of the Month" for Jun'13

A short write-up about Balaji from Prasanna (Center head for KBM)

"Balaji has been a regular volunteer ever since we started our KBM center. He has gone one step further from just being a regular volunteer and be a inspiration for all others. His level of interaction and involvement with the kids is always amazing. Never have I heard the word NO / NOT POSSIBLE from him, always willing to do anything and everything for the smooth functioning of the class. Has been a pleasure having him @ KBM and hope he inspires more volunteers in the years to come."

"Featured Volunteer of the Month" for Jul'13 - Sindhuja

Sindhuja from Olcott center has been awarded the "Featured Volunteer of the Month" for Jul'13

A short write-up about Sindhuja from Sugumaran (Center head for Olcott)

"Sinduja is always present, smiling and contributing.  She has evolved well over the last year to take on more responsibility at Olcott. She has not only contributed individually, but also brought her friends and relatives along to Deepam

She is a law graduate and her works portrait the same in taking bold decisions and confidence in arguing for a valid point from her side. Her boldness reflects on our kids to enable them in walking a step ahead. A recent example was during a team segregation, where most of the kids preferred to join with her team

She led the initiative in preparing the curriculum from Olcott’s end during May month along with her friends. She also worked on the field to prepare an assessment plan for this academic year"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"The selfish act of volunteering "(by Karthik Padmanaban -volunteer @ VRS center)

The selfish act of volunteering 

 Volunteering is a bit of a selfish act. At least, it is that way for me. Most people perceive it to be some altruistic service that we offer others, typically to some subset of a society who have not been as fortunate as us. However, it is so further from the truth that I am taking this chance to set the story right.

 I only gain whenever I go to Deepam, and gain tremendously.

 First - the warmth. The effect of a simple 2 hour interaction with a bunch of mischievous and innocent children is nothing short of therapy to an otherwise crafty corporate week that just spun past. The noise and giggles are music departed from the clicking keypads and obtrusive phone rings. Have no doubt – the welcome we get and the good mornings that we receive are as genuine as it gets. Soak it in.

 Then, we learn. We understand the disparity that exists in our society and the tribulations of children thrust into situations for no fault of theirs. We get to realize how fortunate are to have been gifted the parentage, upbringing, education and resources that we enjoy and very often take for granted – and it puts a lot of our pains and complains in perspective.

 We feel good. Especially when you see a kid who you have been guiding, construct a full sentence in English, read off a book, participate in plays and talk back in confidence, the enveloping feeling is massively rewarding. If the soul needs soup, this is the best kitchen in town.

 Finally, it’s fun! Tremendous joy. The volunteers at VRS are, downright and mildly speaking, a crazy bunch of people who get along like a house on fire.

 We sure come to Deepam to help and teach the kids, and we certainly hope they benefit, but I go back home having gained a whole lot more than I gave.

 - kp

Monday, July 15, 2013

Deepam WM Scholarship 2013

Saturday, 13th July 2013 at 9:45 am, I receive a greeting in English from Ajay - "Good morning sir. How are you ?" and a few minutes later, Jyothi  says, "All these kids are very small !". This evoked an internal response screaming "They have all grown up !". Ajay and Jyothi are just a few of them any grown up Deepam Alumni who held the light this day. We invited six such children from yesteryear Deepam West Mambalam and their parents to honour these kids for striving hard in academics despite their various travails. Scholarships were given to them towards their education.

Emotions were running high amongs the kids as it brought back tearful happy memories of the school and Deepam; while Ajay's grandmother was really proud of his achievement - joyous trinkets down her cheek showing all that the small token meant to them. It was a proud day for every parent present there.

If one side presents the past, the other side of the coin is our current Deepam kids. Flanked by their seniors on one side, and volunteers and parents from the other 3 sides, the wondrous children were all attention to every word, cheer and tear. Though some might have even been overwhelmed, it was as joyous an occasion for them as well. Many of them recognized their 'annas' and 'akkas', applauding incessantly with tiny hands when they received their awards. Grand promises were made by them to emulate their seniors and be 'big little stars' like them.

As we were about to say "phew, what a morning!", we have RR Sir bringing a red envelope to the front and announcing with his usual finesse an award  for Praveen Kumar for being nominated Volunteer of the Month a few months back. A delightful icing on the cake !!

Volunteers, as always were cheering from the sidelines, pouncing on a rare opportunity to express satisfaction and happiness.

And, so we have six new stars in the Deepam sky ...

Friday, May 31, 2013

Deepam Annual Report 2012-13

Hello Friends of Deepam,

Another first, this year at Deepam. We are formally publishing a yearly report on Deepam's work and Am very excited to share the Deepam Annual Report 2012-13. 

We have attempted to give a true picture of the work done by the volunteer team and yet, keep the format simple. This report was possible only because of the work done by all volunteers over the year. Special thanks to Abhishek, Sugumaran, Prasanna, Vedavalli, Praveen, RR Sir, Anu and Janavi in helping put this report together!

Thanks for supporting Deepam and look forward to your continued support !


Tuesday, April 30, 2013


April 2013

Over the last three weeks, for some 10 children of Deepam West Mambalam, it has been an experience as interesting as it was inspiring. The children were treated to a visit to a Library so near their school that it’s almost like an extension to their class-room.

A few weeks ago, one of our volunteers came to know of a small library in an apartment next to the school where Deepam WM functions. This library – called Sri Chakra Library -- is run by Karthik, a young guy who holds Masters degree in English and History and an M.Phil degree too. He is differently abled,having restricted mobility. The volunteers of WM centre got to meet him in April and were impressed with his lively chat.

It was planned to take Deepam WM kids in batches to the Library to get them inspired and to make Karthik happier (he is ever happy with a cheerful smile on his face all the time). We then spoke to the school HM, obtained her permission and left word with Karthik's mom about our plan to bring few children to the Library on a Saturday. She and her son were only too glad to say 'Yes'.

All the books in Karthik’s collection have been accumulated by him over the past many years and maintained with loving care. These books are stacked in a neat way. There are books to take you down memory lane, books that you had always wanted to read but never got round to it, books that today’s youngsters would like to read and – this is where Deepam WM and its children come in -- loads of books and magazines (in English and Tamil) specially meant for school-going children.

Here’s what Maduravalli ma’am of WM Centerhas to say on how she sold the idea to the children she was sitting with on 6th April and her own experience at the Library.

“This morning, when I was sitting with the six girls of V standard, I announced that if they give correct answers for all the revision exercises planned, then a visit to a library will happen. They got so excited and did unusually well in the revision exercises. Just before the visit, I briefed them about Karthik and asked them to greet him before they start reading the books. The children were visibly happy to do it when we reached there, what with Karthik's infectious smile having that magical effect. They scanned through the kids' books that his mom had kept on the table, and picked one each. Though most of them were quite high for their usual reading abilities, they did attempt and when I found a very interesting book titled 'Colour clown comes to town', I replicated Deepam's library session there - reading it out to them and the kids enjoyed it so well. 

“While putting back the books on the table, they noticed that there was a huge Certificate framed and displayed at their sight level. It was the "Young Achiever Award' given to Karthik by Rotary Club on 26th March this year. It had a short write-up about him and when I read it out to the kids, they came up with an "Aaahh...' on hearing that he was the school topper in Advanced English and History in his 12th Std Board Examinations.

“Then we all left the 'mini library' thanking Karthik and his mom for the wonderful experience. I am sure the kids will remember this day forever. I reminded the children that with a strong will, if Karthik can overcome so many obstacles and achieve this much, they can do a lot more. Even as I am writing these words I am able to recall the wonderful expression that I saw in the eyes of those children today.”

On 13th, another batch of children was taken to this Library and they spent some quality time there for about half-hour, clearly enjoying every single minute of it. And again on 20th, one more visit was arranged, when the children wished to have a photograph taken with Karthik.
Karthik himself was so happy that, in his mail to Madhu ma’am, he wrote,
“i am karthik  i run a lending library at home madhu mam made my house a learning hub  by bringing  the kids here they catch wat is being taught  very fast and are very bright madhu mam  at the end of the class always asks the kids to read a caption abt me but she is energetic and enthusiastic as kids and her friend vasanthi mam is also an amazing person over all whole team is doing great job proud to do my bit”
And the children?As always, when sitting with books, they were quite excited and so it was during every visit. After exchanging greetings with Karthik they would proceed straight to the section allotted for them (a sofa / table on which books are neatly arranged and kept) – where they are sure to find many of their favorite titles.
Even long after the visit, their excitement would linger on, eyes alight.Probably with the thought of the story they’d just read or because they’ve found a treasure trove and a friend just next door.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Deepam Newsletter Q1 2013

Deepam presents the latest edition of its quarterly newsletter encapsulating the events and key landmarks of the first three months of 2013....Check on the link below read more....

Monday, April 15, 2013

Deepam VRS Scholarships 2012-2013

2012-13 was the second year that the “Regional Grand Lodge of South India Charitable Trust” came forward to support the Scholarship program at VRS center.  We were delighted when the Trustees agreed to come to school and give away the scholarships to the children. It was the last Deepam session on April 13th, and the Year-end assessment had started early for the Basic, Intermediate and Advanced groups.

With the children busy with assessment and out of the way, few volunteers arranged the Certificates and covers in order, and got the stage set for the chief guests.  When they - Mr.Rajan Sekri, Mrs.Sekri and Mr. Sivakumar -  arrived, there was a quick round of introductions, and everyone assembled for the event. The school teachers were seated on a bench and the parents of the 6 scholarship recipients on another.  Volunteers preferred to stand at the back, each with a cell phone camera ready to click away. After welcoming the guests and highlighting the activities of the Trust, Abhishek Mundhra requested Mr Sekri to address the gathering. The next 15 minutes were delightful with Mr Rajan Sekri packing words of advise and encouragement, in a jovial and spirited talk that was interrupted many a time by loud claps..He endeared himself to the kids and volunteers alike with his spontaneous wit. Following this, the six recipients of this year’s scholarship (Jenith, Uma, Keerthana, Vaishali, Poongavanam and Shranya) were called out to receive the certificate from the Principal and the scholarship of Rs.3000 from Mrs.Sekri.  Four other deserving children (Nitish, Dhinisha, Akhila and Swetha) were given a reward of Rs.1000 each in recognition of their consistent efforts. The guests had brought chocolates for the children which were also distributed .

Meantime, another well wisher of Deepam, Ms.Amritha who had earlier donated a huge haul of stationery and colours, was called upon to give away crayons to all the children, delighting them further. Then, Uma and Jenith, both scholarship recipients,  spoke a few lines about Deepam and how much they liked the weekend classes. The parents were visibly moved by the gesture, and thanked us profusely.  It was time for the group photographs and more smiles. The chief guests left soon after, having graced a simple but significant occasion for the kids and volunteers of Deepam VRS. We know deep down that the scholarship kids will continue to do well in the higher classes and will recall this day with pride.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Featured Volunteer for the Month of Feb'13

Satish from KC center is our "Featured Volunteer for the month" for Feb '13.

A small write-up about Satish...

"Satish has been volunteering for almost a year now. He is very regular, always smiling and the kids take to him like anything. He works through friday nights to come to the classes on saturdays. Despite having visited radio stations three times earlier, he enthusiastically took part in KC centre's outing to the FM radio station for the sake of kids. He has also brought in a wealth of material in english that can be effectively used in all centres. He has also got e-copies of the Amar Chitra Katha tales. We have this habit of kids introducing existing volunteers to the new ones. Whenever this happens, kids vie with each other to introduce Satish, making famous among them"

Featured Volunteer for the Month of Mar'13

Praveen Kumar from WM center has been awarded our "Featured Volunteer of the Month" for Mar'13

A short write-up about Praveen...

"K Praveen has been with us for more than a year. His attendance has been very regular and participation as enthusiastic as the children. He has always been ready to carry out whatever out-of-the-way requests we make of him (his help in Library books data entry is one such), after sleepless nights (due to his office shift hours) he is among the first to arrive on Saturdays (and among the last to leave), has been diligently taking care of the video session week after week, has been showing tremendous amount of responsibility"