CHENNAI: Walking into a relief camp can be depressing. Until you hear a bunch of kids singing the theme song of Maari, that is. The setting is rather unusual for a game of Antakshari. The venue is SPS Marriage Hall in Saidapet and plastic chairs that would normally be used for guests are instead strewn with damp lungis. Saris that have been drenched in the floods are hanging from the bannister of the floor above, which seems to work as a clothes line, minus the clips. And few adults are in sight. But the little ones, some as young as five don’t seem affected by any of this in the least. Instead, they sing away merrily, without a care in the world. Or at least for a couple of hours - before they go back to the reality of being homeless.
On this particular day, classical singer Vedanth Bharadwaj is going to be teaching the kids some folks songs. But as a warm up, Deepika Arun, an ex-primary school teacher is setting the mood - leading two teams of eager youngsters. And they’re going back and forth singing everything from Love Birds from yesteryear Tamil film Anbe Va to a more recent Adharu Adharu from the Ajith-starrer Yennai Arindhaal.
“We have about eight sessions just like this one planned for kids this entire week, and perhaps going into next week as well,” says Sriram Aiyer of Nalanda Way. The sessions which cover everything from Bharatanatyam lessons to a game of football began on Tuesday. And the volunteers reaching out thanks to social media, cover everyone from your next door housewife to storytellers and Kathak dancers.
The relief camps that have seen these interactive sessions so far include the Santhome Community Centre, St Xavier’s School, Loyola College and Corporation schools at Kottur and Saidapet. And the volunteers that are handling these activities are split up into those facilitating the sessions and those scouting relief camps to see where a majority of the kids are.
To volunteer with kids at relief camps, contact 9566180985.