Thanks dear ITDC, Tourist guide federation and the kids from Thiruthandalam, you made us feel that we are really close to our motto of making the rural villagers getting educated on heritage (Rural education And Conservation of Heritage is our real long name, which is abbreviated to R.E.A.C.H !)
It was really a memorable day for many NGOs and organizations like us.
ITDC wanted to spend the world tourism day in an useful manner and Mr.P.Asoka called us to put the plan in action.
He asked, can we bring in some children to go around Chennai, in 5-6 hours time?
I said, "Why not? but not city bread children, but children from Rural village who might not even crossed the highway from their village!"
"Great" he exclaimed. Said, "Chanrda bring them to ITDC office on 29th August, World tourism day. ITDC will sponsor the bus, we will pay for the lunch and you may..."we'll pay for their tickets," I promised without a second thought!
I called upon Tree Natesan of exnora, to help me out scouting the right school and children. Government high school from Thiruthandalam, responded positively, thanks to their correspondent. He arranged the exams running concurrently for another day and managed to send the kids from 8th standard. He said, This is a life time opportunity for the kids! I couldn't resist," he said. He came all the way to Koyambedu, the point of drop and pick up, we have committed to Parveen Travelks, who had sent the bus at the behest of ITDC. Mr. Gopal of ITDC was in constant touch. So was Mr.Asoka, the Tourist Federation president, even though he was on a tour. Natesan, , me and the correspondent of the school Mr.Ramachandran, gave a real test for the connectivity of all the mobiles in odd hours!
The D-Day came and the well behaved kids from the village landed spot at the Koyambedu bus stand. After few moments of silence and hesitation, they were on full throttle once the flagging of the bus was over! Songs, dance and discussing frantically among themselves, they seemed to enjoy and grasp what best they could. Mrs. Esther Rani from the federation was an able guide and many were asking her who know her in the museum, "What did you leave you job and join as a teacher?".
I had announced some prizes for the kids for writing an essay or a poem, painting a scene etc. after they reach their homes. I promised them that after their exam holidays, I would make a sudden trip to their school and check the entries and give them away the prizes. That turned out to be more challenging as they posed questions to me and got answers. In museum, Mr. Balu the senior curator had arranged from a nearby canteen some 'spicy' food, for which the tourist' federation footed the bill and after the Egmore museum, it was the wish of the Correspondent that they be shown the Birla science planetarium. After the planetarium visit, all children demanded a visit to the beach. Looking into the paucity of time and that they had to reach their village as early as possible, I took them to the nearest Besant Nagar beach, from the planetarium at Kotturpuram. They were thrilled and all proudly pulled out their pocket money (most of the parents had given Rs.100/- to each kid!) to buy some eatables in the beach. They shouted when they dipped their feet in the water, till their voices turned hoarse! Back, with loads of memories, they made themselves happy and of course all who made this day possible, a happy one too.!
The pictures are here for you to see