Hope For Kids – DP2

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Photo Credits: Miss Tanuja

Meeting and Objectives…

Before even entering our first meeting, I was already eager for this service year, as I am now one of the service leaders for Hope For Kids. I will be in charge of the accounting aspect, while my other two fellow leaders will be in charge of PR and organization. While at first glance, numbers and calculation may seem to be the least thrilling part of service and giving back to others, I don’t think that’s the case for my service. Through years of hard work, HFK has a considerable amount of funding to its name, a fact that got all the members very excited as we came up with idea after idea for helping the hospital with our funding. Consequently, our meeting was filled with many suggestions and improvements from last year, leading to our current ambitious objectives for the coming year:

(a) Allocate funding accordingly for short term expenses such as arts and crafts material, as well as long term expenses such as buying medical equipment. In addition to broadening perspectives and bringing a childhood back to these patients, this year, we also want to help with more technical aspects such as necessities for families and expensive medical equipment.

(b) Strengthen our awareness campaign for the service and the issues it combats in Sri Lankan society. we decided a good first step would be to open up a Facebook page. Interacting and giving back to the kids is a reward of its own, but it is equally important create awareness and make sure we aid them as a unified community, and not just a school service group.

(c) Brainstorm new creative activities that would be meaningful as well as beneficial for the kids we visit. A new idea that we carried out in one of our initial visits to the hospital this year is making paper dolls. Due to their weak immune systems, these kids aren’t allowed to have stuffed toys due to its cotton filling. Therefore, by showing them how to make paper dolls, we are hopefully showing them a way to keep hold of their childhood and see the good in a bad situation.

Hospital Visits

img_6347As mention in our this objective, one of the first hospital activities we conducted was making paper dolls. what really struck me during this visit was how fun it was to interact with the kids and how much they had to give back to their community. One of the girls I was helping make paper dolls really didn’t need my help at all! Despite being shy at first, she quickly took control of choosing the colors and designing the doll’s outfit. Despite having a really great time talking to her, she was very enthusiastic about making her doll on her own – which in the end was a good thing as she seemed to have a great artistic vision that I did not possess. It really showed me how much all of them had to offer, and how it should be a privilege to us to get to see them every week.

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End of Year CAS Reflection

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As the end of this academic year nears, looking back at my initial CAS goals, and the eight learning outcomes for CAS, makes me realize how much I have grown and accomplished this year, as well as the ways in which my aspirations changed and veered in new directions.
FullSizeRender-2Looking back on my goals for creativity, it’s encouraging to see that I have achieved my goals, and exceeded my initial expectations. Having reflected on the blog regarding my progress as a piano player, I am satisfied with my success at live performances, and my improvement in pianistic techniques. However, while I am glad that I undertook the challenge of becoming a better pianist and playing for live audiences, it has also led me to identify areas for growth in my learning.Now that I have experience playing live, and have a better understanding of how to cope with mistakes during the heat of the moment, I aim to take a more central and frequent role in these performances next year, as a DP2 musician.

While maintaining my commitment to playing the piano, I am also really grateful 1that I got the opportunity to expand my knowledge of music, by developing new skills as a violinist. As this was a CAS goal made at the beginning of the year, however, I am a little disappointed at how long it took me to organize a teacher and start my lessons, as it left me no time for reflection on the blog. For next year, I plan to take more initiative when pursuing any CAS activity, so that I have time to blog in detail about it, over the course of the semesters.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 8.25.23 PMA large part of my creativity hours, however, came about due to activities and events that I did not plan to be a part of, but felt a personal desire to try. MUN and Bugsy Malone (backstage crew) are two main events that became a spontaneous addition to my CAS blog. With MUN, I demonstrated my perseverance and commitment to an activity that had overwhelmed me the year before. Deciding to participate a second time allowed me to experience the activity in a new light, made more enjoyable by my prior knowledge and new friends. Volunteering for the backstage crew in our school musical, however, was an entirely new challenge for me, one that turned out to be very rewarding. Aside from teaching me new skills, this event showed me what it is like to be part of OSC, and revel in the school spirit.

Looking back on my goals for action, it is apparent that this is the are where myScreen Shot 2016-02-17 at 8.19.56 PM plans for the year changed significantly, taking me in new athletic directions that I had never thought of before. At the beginning of the year, I was eager to try a different form of action – dance. While I was very enthusiastic to learn, however, I did not find a class to my liking. Determined to develop new skills athletically, however, I joined yoga with my friends during the second semester. Rather different from dance, yoga taught me the importance of having a cal mindset and exercising your muscles to remain healthy. It was a very different area of action compared to badminton, the sport that I have been committed to for the past few years. Badminton allowed me to improve my strengths in technical aspects, such as succeeding in a smash shot, and enabled me to compete with friends in an activity I really enjoyed. Despite my athletic achievements, however, I wish I had been able to play sports more competitively, like in SAISA, something I am planning on working towards for next year.

HFKLooking back on my goals for service, I am glad to report that I have committed to “Hope for Kids” the entire year, a feat made very easy by the wonderful kids and dedicated group members. In the presence of my peers, who are so familiar with this cause, and determined to improve it, as well as my supervisors, who care about us as much as the kids at the hospital, it is impossible to see my service as a mere CAS requirement. Hope for Kids has definitely made me want to contribute to other service projects during my own time, which I think would be a good way to develop as a person, outside of CAS requirements.

For next year, I I plan to use all my ideas from the end of this year, as well as any new ideas I may have over the summer, to figure out new CAS goals.

HFK: Final visit

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Thursday, the 10th of May, marked our final visit to the hospital this academic year. Due to commitments such as exams, and figuring out service plans for next year, we had our final fun hour with the children this Thursday. Adhering to our goal of providing the children with the childhood and cultural opportunities that they miss due to their battle with cancer, we made the visit centered on the Sri Lankan (Buddhist) festival of Vesak.

Falling on the full moon occurring during May, Vesak is a greatly celebrated holiday in Sri Lanka, which marks the birth of the Buddha in Buddhism. As a child, my favorite part of this holiday was going out at night to see the lanterns adorning the doorsteps of houses and shops alike, making for a spectacular sight in their shiny, brightly colored glory. As a build up to all of this excitement, I used to love making the lanterns for our house with my parents, deciding on the colors I wanted and wondering if we could attach christmas lights to make it glow. This kind of childhood joy and immersion in culture is something that the kids at the hospital whole-heartedly deserved, and so, that is what we delivered to them.

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The lantern frames

When we brought the supplies to the hospital and got the kids started on their own lantern, their mothers also soon joined in, and in a matter of minutes, all of us worked together enthusiastically to complete the lanterns. Making lanterns with the kids remind me once again of the joy the activity gave me when I was younger – seeing them running around with the lanterns, and turning them into absorbing toys with their imagination, made me realize that they appreciated this part of our culture in a way that I never could.

Having to leave the hospital knowing that it was going to be my last visit, only made me more determined to come back next year, especially if I can once again work with teachers and students who are so committed to the service and, above all, the kids.

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HFK -Preparation for the New Year

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Food and Fun Fair

After weeks of tie-dying shirts, making dream catchers and beading necklaces, the Food and Fun Fair finally dawned on Saturday, the 2nd of April. The fair was cheerful and bustling from the start, and it took me a moment to take in the colorful stalls and find the one that was labelled ‘Hope For Kids’. Thanks to the wonderful teachers we had supervising us, the stall was set up for success, with all our hard work displayed proudly along with many pictures of our work at the hospital.

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The HFK Stall

I, along with many of my fellow members, stopped by the stall frequently  throughout the fair to make sure that the members manning the stall could take a break. Unfortunately, I couldn’t spend all my time at my service stall as, like all the others, I also had to help out with our class stall, the ‘Slip ‘N Slide’. However, I still supported Hope For Kids by sending many of my friends to the stall, and buying something from the stall myself. Apart from raising money for our cause, I think our enthusiasm and commitment conveyed to all our customers our dedication to the service and its importance in Sri Lanka. Hopefully, our time at the fair also served in inspiring others to pay more attention to all the kids in need in Sri Lanka.

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Rations at the Hospital (Photo Credits: Smriti Nagarajan)

 

The Food and Fun Fair was a nice way of welcoming the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, here in Sri Lanka, which falls on the 13th or 14th of April, depending on the year. As this is a time where family and friends get together and celebrate new beginnings, we wanted the kids at the hospital, along with their families, to have the same opportunity. Therefore, as we had done the year before, we had a dry rations fundraiser at school before spring break, so the kids at the hospital could indulge in good food during this happy time. To incentivize our classmates to bring in dry rations (such as rice, milk powder, and other Sri Lankan staple foods), we decided to award the grade that brought in the most rations a pizza party.

 

 

The Thursday before spring break, as we were all struggling to load the immense amount of dry rations into our van to take to the kids, we realized how much our classmates had really delivered. This was especially true in the case of grade 7, who brought in the most amount of dry rations and won the pizza party.

At the hospital, due to the shy smiles and heartfelt ‘thank you’s of the kids and their families as we gave them their rations, it was wonderful to hear that we had brought in extra rations and could donate them to even more families.

As a Sri Lankan looking forward to her own New Year, I’m really grateful that I got to start it in such a simple, yet uplifting way.

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Taking the Rations to the Hospital (Photo Credits: Smriti Nagarajan)

Hope For Kids – Food and Fun Fair

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 3.34.16 PMIn my previous service posts, I talked about making jewelry with the kids that we intended to sell in order to raise funds. Having decided that the best time to do this would be at the Food and Fun Fair in April, as many of the students and parents would be present, we realized we needed more items to sell along with the jewelry.

 

Therefore, in our following group meetings (when we were not visiting the hospital), we have been getting together to create arts and crafts for our stall in April.

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At one session, we made dream catchers using feathers and beads – this was a great way to express my creativity while also planning ahead to improve on our service projects.

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Apart from dream catchers, we also made batik handkerchiefs and headbands – this was my favorite of the arts and crafts as I had never done this before and I found the technique to be fun and interesting. Another think I liked about batiking was the fact that you never knew how the pattern would turn out until after you had applied all the colors and unfolded your creation. It is an even greater feeling to know that our hard work will help the kids at the cancer hospital and allow them to have a better quality of life.

Whilst taking on these arts and crafts projects, we have also been maintaining our visits to the hospital. During our last visit, we made more jewelry with the kids as they really seemed to enjoy it last time. I also talked more with one of the older girls at the hospital who seemed to really want new books to read – a passion we both seem to share. In our next Hope For Kids meeting, I plan on bringing this up in order to give the slightly older kids something to enjoy as well.