It was a pure joy for some 700 children and accompanying adults at the VIVA Nirmal Anand winter celebration and Christmas party for children at risk. And what gave contributed to the joy was the love and generosity of the first year Media undergraduates from St Xavier’s College, Patna. These students organised and ran a fishpond game that ensured that every child who came to the stall returned smiling, with a surprise ‘catch’; a gift wrapped in newspaper!
“The spirit of Christmas is universal. It goes beyond the narrow confines of religion. In St Xavier’s, we are encouraged to see beyond the narrow domestic walls. It was awesome to have my juniors, who are from all faiths: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, tribal come and run this stall,” said Seema Kumari, a graduate from St Xavier’s currently working with a social organisation.
“When I suggested to the First Year students that we could raise some money and make some 500 slum kids happy by running a stall at the VIVA Annual Festival of Joy, the response was unanimous and overwhelming. Every student in the class wanted to contribute and be on the volunteer team. The students and teachers of the BMC department contributed generously towards the gifts for the children,” says the head of the BMC department, Ms Neerja Lal.
Children at risk are those from socially disadvantaged and marginalised families, those in extreme poverty, those kids who are at most in danger of being trafficked, facing domestic violence,dropping out of school, at risk from danger and disease.
Agape Charitable Trust volunteers ran several game stalls as well. There were balloon games, drop the coin, and smashing the pot, among others.
The VIVA Annual festival of Joy is organised by a city network of voluntary organisations and socially minded individuals. “VIVA organisation provides the seed money of about Rs 30,000, and the rest is raised through contributions by other voluntary organisations, individuals, and well wishers. The venue is generously donated by one organisation, others may sponsor the food items, or the gifts for the children, or the transportation. It is the result of a spirit of generosity. This year we were really happy to have the enthusiastic cooperation of St Xavier’s College Students as one of our supporters. The Baptist Church provided the venue this year. Other partners were Agape Charitable Trust, EFICAR (Evangelical Fellowship of India Children @ Risk), St Karen’s High School, St Paul’s High School, Asian Sahyogi Sanstha India, Emmanuel Mission school and several individual donors as well, ” said VIVA coordinator Devesh Lal.
The fifteen St Xavier’s students were part of a group of about 100 volunteers who helped manage the show. The St Xavier’s students were also selected as jury members for kids’ events such as Dancing, singing, and cat-walking.