Spreading A Little Happiness
It’s all about being happy, right mamas? Well, I am fortunate enough to know one person who oozes happiness and spreads it everywhere she goes… When Jumana Al Darwish, founder of The Happy Box, told me that she was putting together “The Happy Hearts Giving Program Visit to India”, I jumped at the chance to tag along in order to help spread a little happiness to children in need.
Having visited India before, I have seen how disadvantaged a lot of the young population, in certain areas, are – living without education, sanitisation, and even roofs over their heads. It really does bring me back to reality, and realise just how fortunate we are, and how the importance of giving your time to charity is a simple act of kindness that goes a long way.
Thanks to a beautiful and extremely grounded five year old girl, Joud – who, for her 5th birthday requested that her family and friends provide Happy Boxes to other children instead of birthday gifts, (something for us to teach the kiddos, perhaps?) the Happy Hearts trip was born. The Mission is to provide 500 young girls from the Sakshi Girls Education project with Happy Boxes containing educational kits that have been approved by UNICEF. With thanks to Aramex, a shipment was sent to our hotel in New Delhi ready for packing and delivering.
Together with a fabulous group of women (and including little Joud of course), our mission started early one Friday morning with a visit to a school/centre, which has been set up by a wonderful charity: Sakshi, focusing on education, health and community development in the most run down areas, in and around Delhi.
In 1993, Sakshi, supported by the United Nations and World Health Organization, began work in the area of Health & Hygiene, by building toilets at MCD schools in the slums and educating children and communities about Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. This was critical to reducing the incidence of diseases and water-borne epidemics that frequently afflicted these settlements and resulted in high rates of child, maternal and overall mortality.
Working in the MCD schools, Sakshi staff noticed the high drop-out rate of slum children. Sakshi believes that education is vital for the development of a child, enlarging her vision of the world and herself, instilling curiosity, awareness, values – and a belief and ability to chart her own destiny.
Supported by Government agencies, Sakshi began work in the area of Elementary Education, running Early Education Centers to care for the health and education of pre-school children and Non-Formal Education Centers and Remedial Classes to track down, motivate and equip drop-outs to rejoin the mainstream. Today, they have over 180 centres and the Happy Hearts team were fortune to visit a few with our host, and Sakshi president Dr. Mridula Anand Tandon, whose knowledge, love and kindness was unprecedented.
I have to be honest, whenever I have visited children in poverty stricken areas, I have noticed that they all have one thing in common – the biggest and most welcoming smile – and the kids at the Sakshi were no different.With children from as young as 3 years old singing and reciting poems, and even some too busy to look up from writing in their books, one of the biggest signs on the school wall is a moto that rings true: “An educated daughter is a safe daughter“.
The centre also has an area for mothers and their babies, teaching sewing and dress making. These mothers were so proud to show off what they had made for their children, beautiful garmets, again, all supported by Sakshi.
Our next stop was another centre in an Islamic area of Delhi where the children welcomed us with open arms and, in true Jumana style, posed for selfies – which they couldn’t get enough of! We were there to present 500 girls with Happy Hearts Boxes and heart cards, made by children in Dubai especially for the trip, and in return, the Shaski children presented our team with a thank you plaque and flowers, followed by the most amazing dance performance, a show, and a judo display.
And finally came the moment that 500 girls had been waiting patiently for – the giving of the boxes presented by Joud and the team. 500 thank you’s later, the feeling of gratitude and love took over every single one of us. It was a whirlwind trip to India, taking us from extravagance to simplicity with one goal in mind – Happiness.
A special thank you to:
Amna and Joud for their kind donation
Dr. Mridula Anand Tandon Director of Sakshi
Manjula Singh for being a wonderful host