Social outing to Vandalur Zoo – Home of Hope – June 2

Last Saturday, around 40 volunteers from CTC (including several families & kids) took out 33 less privileged children from the Home of Hope orphanage on a one day outing to Vandalur Zoo. Sathya and Preetha captured the experience wonderfully in 2 write ups below.
I want to to thank all members who participated in giving the kids a special day in their life which they will cherish for years to come. And special mention for:
  * Thilak & Rakesh for connecting CTC with the home
  * Sathya Natarajan for preparing and sponsoring breakfast for the kids and volunteers
  * Sathish Natarajan (and friends) for buying new sandals for the kids many of them who did not have footwear
  * Malvika for sponsoring fruity juice for the kids
  * Sinu for co-organizing this outing with me
  * Many participants got biscuits, sweets, chocolates, tooth brush, pens, filer, balloons for the kids
  * Sathya Narayanan to coordinating the group/managing accounts
  * Srinivasan, Sreeja, Kanhaiya, Gokul, Sunil and Rakesh for picking up the kids at Thirunindravur and dropping back
  * Rakesh for arranging lunch
  * Hari Ratan for sponsoring a generous amount towards the expenses
  * Sunil Jain who sponsored around 3200 that includes the tickets to all the kids, adults and organizers for entering the Zoo.
  * Other selfless souls whom I have forgotten to mention
Those interested to help out the home are welcome to do so by sponsoring materials for a new building being constructed. Currently 33 kids are cramped together in a too small existing space of 600 sq ft. Find more detailsover here.
[Write up by Sathya]
33 kids from the home of hope, Pakkam village made one more memorable day in our life. 45+ CTC members joined the kids at Vandalur zoo on 23-Jun. Peter, Rakesh, Sathya Narayan and few other vehicles had picked up kids from home and brought them to zoo and dropped them back in the evening at home. For many kids, it was their first visit to the Zoo and also to Chennai. Too often we under-estimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others
Beauty lies in the eyes of the person. Though I had been to the zoo many times in the past, it was so wonderful this time with the kids around. It was personally a learning for me from each kid. More we listen to them, our heart becomes light. Whatever troubles and challenges, we keep thinking for ourselves, look nothing, when you hear from them. One of the best ways is to learn through experience.. it was a lighter day for me.
There is no lovelier way to thank  god  for  what you have than by  giving  a  helping  hand to  someone who needs it.
Last week was a hectic week for me professionally outside Chennai and when I signed up for this social outing, some of my friends, started pulling me. Are you sure, you can? I remember my husband’s words, “where do you get this non stop energy from” my reply is always, we get energy from within and we prioritise to spend our time, what is close to our heart. Yes, I was looking forward to beating my stress with the kids not physical rest.  One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people. 
It is quite a fortunate thing to realize that something (hobby) you enjoy the most, by coincidence you are also contributing for someone’s happiness. I did something for my happiness and incidentally it had become a contribution. I enjoy cooking, serving and packing, which I would say “yes” at any time, without a second thought.  It came as a delighter to me, when Peter said ok for my breakfast for the kids and volunteers. It is ok to mention this here, because nothing happened to any one after finishing their breakfast. Jokes apart, My husband, my daughter and my friends enjoy eating my food preparation. I feel blessed.
Started preparing pongal at 4am and finished with Kesari at 630am.. thanks to my kavitha’s mother who prepared Idlis, Vada and sambar for all of us. Everyone enjoyed eating breakfast.. I made a mistake of buying thermocoal plates instead of paper plates.. lessons learnt. organizers Sathya Narayanan assisted by the active volunteers like Rakesh, Vikram, Gokul, Muthu, Preetha, Sinu, Kannan and family, did a good job of briefing the kids on what to do and what not to do during the trip..  
When I look back my life, without the contribution, support and help from people,  I would not have been, where I am today. I am sure, in our network of 16000+ members in CTC, we could do a lot to the society, which would also increase our happiness. When I hear from any one about they do not have time, my mind keeps thinking, they do not know what they are talking or they do not mean what they are saying. Time lies in our mind.. mind decides our priority for the day, for the week, for the month, etc.. when we talk about time, mind only prioritises things depending upon what we would like to do.
 After seeing the enthusiasm and excitement from the kids.. I started thinking, CTC has more than 16000+ members.. if 1/10th of our members contribute to the society once a year, approx. 30 members per week could do a lot to these children. (52 weeks * 30 per week=1560). Everyday, we make a living by what we earn. Atleast once a year, you make a life by what you give. “Volunteers are somebody! Somebody who cares, Somebody who devotes time without pay, Somebody who praises all, large or small and somebody who has a common bond with others to make things better.
Felt very difficult to see few kids walking without chappals..  I just tried doing for a few steps and my legs refused to walk next few steps.. hats off to the kids. Smart kid, Priyanka said, Aunty we are used to walking without slippers but you are not used to.. do not try for us. She was right. Till Sathish got Chappals for all kids to the Zoo around 1pm, most of the children were walking with bear foot. It is time for us to thank God again, for what we have.
Before we entering the zoo, started with nice group pictures.. could see many photographers within the group.. only a few shared all the pictures till now.
Children and CTC members started seeing all animals on the way.. some of them started teaching kids about most of the animals.. I hardly know many details of any animal.. I started learning along with other kids.. started re-collecting my first visit to the zoo with my childhood friend. Snack in any form or shape continues to be my “no see” zone. Everyone enjoyed monkeys, (our dear ancestors), different types of birds, nice peacocks, tiger, lion, fish aquarium, Hippopotamus, zebra, elephants, crocodiles, deer, different types of Buffalows Kangaroo, ducks and swans, giraffe, etc..
Most of us grabbed all possible snacks from everyone and started eating while walking in the hot sun.. any available water on the way was great for drinking.. glucose, tango were all delighters during the day..
After we came out of the Zoo nice lunch (vegetable rice & onion raida) organized by Rakesh.. correct quantity with good quality.. no wastage of food and sufficient for everyone was the good thing. No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor is given by what he gave.
There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who say, ‘what happened?’ I have realized this many times, some of our active CTC members belong to the first category here.
By end of the trip, some of us felt, we did our small part to become a responsible citizen to the society.
For the children, we printed their smiles that our cameras captured during the Vandalure Zoo walk with the clicks from Peter, Muthu and a few active volunteers..  They were all thrilled when new chappals were given to them.. they were also excited with the gifts and promised to keep it as a memory of this trip. One more group picture, after the exit gate.. good memories to carry for some time.
While driving back home, started recollecting the words, which I read some where some time back..
“The betterment of society is not a job to be left to a few. It’s a responsibility to be shared by all.”   The world needs us – let’s make a difference in our communities!
There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you don’t do them. –“
“When we leave this earth, we can take with you nothing that we have received – only what we have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage “
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”
Thanks to Peter for initiating this wonderful trip and sincere thanks to all active volunteers who had given their day for the kids wonderful day in their life and to the sponsors for the nice gifts to the children.  
[Write up by Preetha]
I have received numerous emails on social visits / treks by CTC, and though I felt deeply about them, I hadn’t been to any of them. That’s until Saturday and I am really glad we as a family joined many others for the Social outing to Vandalur Zoo, with the  children from ‘The Home of Hope’. We started from Tidel Park – joined by Sathya (on his bike), Shriya, Kirthi and Alakhia in our car. To introduce our family, we are Preetha, Kannan and our two children Arya (7) and Thraya (4).
It was a day filled with lots of food, fun and warm feeling. Exactly in that order!!!!
Because, the first thing after we reached and basic introductions done, Sathya (another person – a woman –  not to be mistaken with our Dei Sathya mentioned earlier!) offered all of us some amazing home cooked, Pongal, Kesari, Vadai, Idly and Sambar (one of the best sambars I have eaten so far!). By then, the children from the Home and other volunteers who had gone there to bring them had joined us on the amazing culinary journey. With that done, we set off with a small ‘ Ground rules’ session for the children (& adults). We just had 2 simple rules – all of us stick together as a group and no littering. If they wanted to throw trash it would be into one of the many wastebins provided or on Rakesh anna! Then each adult (about 36 of us) had to take along and take care of 1 child (37 in number).
We got to include Ajay (about 8 years of age)into our family that day. As we went along, the animals part became incidental and the interaction part – with plenty of water and snack breaks in between – became more fun!
The kids very instinctively climbed an artificial mound created with rocks (looked like it must have been created for a waterfall or something!) and it was very nice seeing them all play, run and move together with absolutely no sense of differences among themselves. We all walked in a steady pace, spaced with ‘Frooty’ breaks, biscuit breaks, water breaks in between going so close to tigers, lions and giraffe. Watching the tiger was a brilliant experience, with the kids staring at the beast in awe and one could feel it with the sudden reduction in sound at the place. All the chattering and shouting came to a standstill on seeing the tiger move in towards us. People with cameras held out to take as many pictures as they could, those who knew a little more information started telling the children, and some others quizzed them on their knowledge of wildlife.
The snakes were also very interesting to look at and so were the huge crocodiles. Around this time, two things happened to my children. Both developed an aching leg because of recent hurt on their feet, and the second – they discovered so many friends among the others from CTC. And before we knew it, they were each carried by Sathya, Gokul and Karthik. And this went on until the end of the trip for Gokul and Karthik – who carried the kids till the very end!!! I really don’t know how to thank you both enough!!
We had a great time playing together, running together, ‘making a train’ –singing….
On Saturday, I feel my children did not get just an outing – they got an experience with such loving real people who reached out to make others feel good, they got to play and interact with so many other children, and we had so much fun!!! It was much later that I had told my daughter that the kids did not have parents and that there were so many people in the world with such huge problems. Our problems are miniscule compared to all that!!!
We ended the journey with much more food (those we stored up in the car), interaction and coming back home with heavy hearts and wonderful memories of friends people who they feel are alike an extension to our family.   
I feel every family – including the children should have many such experiences to get a wonderful slice of reality with an opportunity to change it forever!!
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