A Visit to an Orphanage - The Joy of Giving

It was rather an uncomfortable journey for us, as there was very little space left in the bus, with all the bags and boxes crammed, as if the extra passengers weren’t enough. But we didn’t really mind. Once the bus began to move through the streets, we could get some air and with all the prattling, laughing and singing [we were playing Atakshari], time just flew by, without any of us noticing it. We also spent some time secretly watching photos in Benita’s digital camera and teasing the passers-by and everyone else who were unlucky enough to appear in our minds at that time. Standing on the footboards and clutching onto the neighboring seats for support, the drive to the Birds Nest Girls’ Orphanage was quite fun… especially when the bus went over road bumps.

Soon, we were there. The bus left us at the gate of some school and we unloaded all the baggage from the back seats. We passed them along and there, I saw true team spirit at its work. Then we carried the bags and boxes into the school. After some quibbling about where the orphanage was, we finally reached the place. It looked like a small segment of the school outside and was exactly what we expected – no tiles on floors, shy children and plain rooms.

The 35 girls were seated on the steel chairs donated by our school’s chairman and after the initial introduction about who we were and why we had come, the president of the foundation, an elderly lady took photographs of us together. Then, Leo teacher-in-charge Surya ma’am asked the girls if they could sing the ‘Happy Birthday song’ for Hitesh, a student of ninth from Jeevana, present there. They sang and we moved our lips a bit too, to avoid the awkward feeling you usually get in such situations. Once they had all settled down, we started distributing the biscuits, chocolates, dresses, accessories, toys and everything else which people had managed to buy or donate, to the Leo Club.

It was rather confusing, with all the stuff right there, in bags and somehow we managed to give them to the right kids, without creating some sort of embarrassing trouble. We focused on equality, in order to prevent anyone fighting over anything. We also had to make sure we didn’t show too much of sympathy or happiness or generosity, as that could easily offend the girls. Apart from all this stuff that we had to keep in mind, there was also the problem that some of the dresses didn’t fit some kids. But it wasn’t really as hectic as I just made it sound. As every member of the Leo Project did his/her work properly, there weren’t any mishaps that we regretted later on. So the entire process of distribution was smooth and satisfactory.

The girls did say ‘thank you’ and other forms of gratitude, which made me feel a bit hot around the neck [especially when they applauded]. But it was rather great to see the happy smiles they wore as we handed them the ear-rings and bangles. One little 6-year old was particularly overjoyed that her dress was brand new and not one of those used, worn up ones. That moment, we were really pleased with ourselves for having donated our funds to the Leo Club [we were, of course, the club’s top contributors, having donated Rs. 5000 out of the Rs. 6000~ the club had had]. All the kids seemed really happy about what we were giving them and we could tell that we had made a difference in their day. And that was all that really mattered to us. It was a beautiful feeling to give to people who will probably never repay you in any way. It was… liberating. You should try it some time too! :)

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