By Harsha M

Set an alarm at 7 am. It’s definitely going to take me more than an hour to get ready, eat, and start off to the venue. As I woke up, I ran the checklist through my mind.
Have I made arrangements for transport? Yes.
Have I kept everything I need in the bag? Yes.
Have I informed the family of my plans? Yes.
After filling my mind’s early morning, anxiety-ridden questionnaire, I got ready and set out to meet the other volunteers at Suravi where we would spend the next three days with kids from all over the state and do our best to keep up with the standards of Bakul’s yearly performance at the children’s festival.

As the reader might’ve already pieced from the above paragraph, SURAVI is a children’s festival. It is organised by the Government of Odisha and Bakul lays claim on one of the many activity stalls that have been set up for the participating children. Our stall is based on the theme of ‘Best of Waste’ and we volunteers march in with our bright yellow T-shirts with the aim of teaching kids how to use substances which are deemed as waste products and create something useful or beautiful out of them. The substances in question may involve old t-shirts, milk/omfed packets, plastic spoons, tissue papers, newspapers, old CD’s, etc….and of course, the good ol’ ice cream sticks.
As our volunteers assumed the role of art teachers, the children of different ages and schools assumed the role of diligent students. With focused eyes and sharp ears deciphering our hindi, oriya and even broken oriya (where necessary), they turned waste into practicable items of everyday life. Some were so in awe of their own creations that they didn’t want to part with them while some others enjoyed the process so much that they created more and more of those objects until the clock made them leave.
We dealt with six groups of children over the course of three days and they too, respectfully dealt with us. The event ended with lots of newspaper hats, photo stands, sunflowers, wind chimes, key chains, woven discs, utility bags and beautiful installations which by now must be adorning Bakul’s library.

The three days went by faster than any of us thought. I guess constant activity does make time fly by fast. Atleast faster than the mind can think of the said phenomenon. And by the time, the mind has realised it, the event is over. Regardless of it all, this constant state of activity is what defined Suravi for me. It is a very different experience than most experiences but a fun one at that.


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