Superheroes come in various sizes and shapes. One doesn’t have to be able to fly at jet speeds or jump across towers by synthesizing webs from finger tips or cause earthquakes with a single fist bump to the ground to be a superhero. Anyone who makes a difference to other’s lives through his/her actions is a superhero in his/her own right. And it is this quality that makes the 2500 odd Make A Difference(MAD) volunteers spread across 23 cities in the country, superheroes.
Make A Difference is a youth network organization wherein youngsters committed to the social cause strive to empower institutionalized children in orphanages and street shelters and help them to discover and unleash their true potential obscured by unfortunate circumstances in their lives. Given that the youth are the largest and most powerful force in India, it is needless to quantify in words the amount of difference that youngsters can make if they take ownership of the institutionalized children in the community who are in dire need of care and protection.
Make A Difference is involved in three main projects which go by the names Project Connect, Project Discover and Project Fortify. Volunteers involved in Project Connect as the name suggests, connect with the children in the centers on a weekly basis, teach them English with the Cambridge Curriculum as the reference and act as their mentors and role models. These people are the actual people in action on the ground and serve as the cogs of the MAD system. Their job doesn’t end with teaching English through interesting and engaging means but rather extends to inspiring them and inculcating life values in them. Project Discover exposes the children to various career options and skills at a young age by conducting activities so that they can make an informed decision later in the future. Project Fortify works at improving the living conditions at the centers so that the children have a safe and comfortable environment to learn and grow. Apart from this ‘Engage Volunteers’ organize and manage events that reach out to thousands of people by way of which funds are raised for the Projects and various activities. Funds that are absolutely necessary to propel MAD’s activities is also raised by selling Dream Tees that was launched by the organization in 2011.
Another very important annual phenomenon in MAD is the DREAM CAMP which is a platform that offers holistic development and experiences to children associated with MAD, through training sessions.Lives cannot be transformed overnight but experiences to identify their hidden talents can definitely be provided. And this is exactly what the Dream Camp is aimed at because MAD believes that every child deserves an exposure to spark a fire.The camp will be a channel to help them realize their dream and make them come true.
For instance, DREAM CAMP Chennai,2014 at the Indeco Resorts(Mahabalipuram) on the 22nd February and 23rd February focusses on skill development,exploration of strengths, overcoming fears and weaknesses and most of all, participation.
The learning experience at MAD isn’t unidirectional, with just the children being at the learning end. The volunteers learn a great deal of life lessons too in the process of interacting and teaching the children. Once you witness the condition of the children and how they find happiness in the most insignificant of things according to us, you will learn to be satisfied with the resources and comforts that you have been pampered with since when you were a kid. More so, you will be grateful for every little thing in your life. Teaching at MAD involves interacting with people from all walks of life including kids from various backgrounds which will enrich you with various perspectives to life. Leadership through ownership and patience are two other qualities that you will discern once you become a part of the change process. At the end of the day, satisfaction that you have in fact made a difference to someone’s life , if only in a small way, will be the greatest take away of all.
If you believe in superheroes and in changing the world and wondering where you can start, check out www.makeadiff.in