Built on a partnership between United Way of Chennai and General Electricals (GE), in early June 2013, a two day summer camp was planned and carried out at Anandha Illam run by the Community Health Education Society (CHES). This two day camp had provided an opportunity for children living with HIV to experience an empowering psycho-social program that is tailored to meet their needs. It equally gave a lot of courage for the GE volunteers to accept to realities of life.

Objective of this two day camp was “To provide the quality experience for children who are aware and unaware of their HIV positive status, where they can build positive self-esteem, learn life skills, and build supportive relationships in a safe, loving, respectful and fun environment.

In May 2013, GE volunteers met with CHES team to discuss opportunities to plan and implement the camp at Anandha Illam which they believed will certainly complement the current care giving program.

Day 1 began with a short tour around the facility, and orientation was given by Mr.Muthupandian, Senior Management; CHES to the team on the do’s and don’ts with the children. A formal inaugural was through where in Mr. Valavan, Program Manager of CHES gave an insight on the camp plan.
A detailed two day plan was shared with children and their thoughts were heard. Based on the inputs of children, sessions had been modified and a common consensus was arrived.

Yoga for everyday life: Yoga is to care for one’s body, mind and breath. Importance and advantages of yoga was shared. Children enjoyed the way it was presented with various moral stories. Children have learnt simple asana’s including Surya Namaskar and Pranayama. Some of them showed greater interest in performing the yoga, due to their regular practice.

Magical Math’s: Children were more excited to know the importance of the Magical Math. When the facilitator said that they will be playing with numbers… children shouted saying why Math’s!!! Why Math’s!!!. Facilitator has incredibly explained about the joy and fun one can have while doing, playing and learning Math’s.

Children agreed to learn the magic of math’s and from there on the entire session on Abacus and other simple techniques of maths have gained greater appreciations from children. Teachers at Anandha Illam School have also witnessed how children enjoyed maths when it was taught in a different form.

Energizers & Games: To keep up with the energy level throughout the day, camp team had small breaks in between sessions which were filled with variety of games and energizers. Worth mentioning are “Cow Boy and Cow Girl”, “Balloon” and “Ball Game” etc. Children were given space to showcase their talents. Performances include music, song and dance etc. Prathiksha Michel Jackson of Anandha Illam was the performer of the day.

Team Building: Children were divided into smaller groups. Each group was asked to identify a funny name for their own group. Children enjoyed selecting funny names for their groups. Group names were Biryani, Solar Girls, Queen Bees and Real Steel Boys. Each group was then given individual topics which include motivation, nature and community.

They were asked to develop and perform a skit on the topic given. Children worked within their groups, developed excellent concepts and rendered thematic performances. This made them understand that working together (team building) will always give them the required strength with the best outcome. Closing remarks by the facilitator stressed on the importance of working together and the success behind “WE” than “I”.
End of day 2 (16th of June 2013) a birthday celebration was organized. Children born in the month of June had jointly cut the cake. Celebrations went until late evening. Prizes were distributed to all children for their passionate participation in the two days camp.

Voices of Children:
“I enjoyed being part of the two days summer camp at our home by GE friends. We had good fun and as well learning’s. I loved learning yoga. Anna who taught yoga was simply superb. He made us to understand the importance of yoga. From then on I am practicing yoga every day. Meditation that keeps me calm and cool every day. I have started teaching Surya Namaskar to the younger ones at our home.

“I was part of Real Steel Boys group. We had fun for the two days. Enjoyed!!! Most appreciated session was team building activities in which we developed a full length comedy skit named “Dubagoor Hotel” which won the first prize and that was the memorable moment”.

“Two days camp by Anna’s and Akka’s from GE was a nice time that we ever had. I had been to two camps earlier. But this camp is something different. Innovative games like “Coe Boys and Cow Girls” and clouring the balloons was my most favorite. During team building, our group had actively participated in a drawing competition. We have won the first prize for our painting on “Save the Nature”. It would be great if a PA system would have been organized lest the people who sat at the back were not able to hear as the group was big. Apart from this all other arrangements were very good. Thank you for the opportunity given.

Voices of the Caretakers and Teachers
“Two day summer camp has opened a new window in the lives of children at Anandha Illam. Yes, children at Anandha Illam had chances to be part of many camps earlier but the camp by GE volunteers was something different. The participation by the children on both days was excellent. It’s because the way the camp was designed with fun, learning and entertainment. Children had a space to stage their talents. Special thanks to all those people who worked behind the scene to give such a wonderful opportunity to our kids. – Mr. Parthiban, Project Coordinator, Anandha Illam.

“I was part of the summer camp throughout. I have been to many such camps with our children. When the first meeting with GE volunteers held, I thought that this would be another joyful day for our kids like any other day. But the plans they had been very innovative. As a staff nurse who always stay at Anandha Illam, living with children, I know how important the meditation and yoga is for a healthy living. I admired the Yoga class, the way it was taught which tremendously influenced all the grown up children.

I am happy to see that some children have started doing Surya Namaskar and Pranayama every morning. I hope other kids will slowly join those who are practicing yoga. Teaching new things to kids are a challenging one but GE volunteers and the camp has really succeeded in their objective”. – Ms.Kalaivani, Staff Nurse, Anandha Illam.

“Being a teacher at Anandha Illam’s “The School”, I was part of the camp for a day. The planning, schedules and execution was very good. Session on “Team Building” fascinated me the most. This session has made the children to think differently and work in a group to present their thoughtz effectively and efficiently. The skit developed and performed by children was outstanding. We were able to witness the creative skills that our students have. The next most admirable session was on “Magic with Math’s”. Great efforts and wishes to everyone who made this possible. We are expecting more such camps in future” – Ms.Tamilselvi, Teacher, Anandha Illam