Bhubaneswar: Hues of happy little souls coloured the 16th edition of Anjali International Children’s Festival, which is drawing to a close tomorrow, in the Odisha capital.
The five-day grand event was filled with positivity and energy of these children, colouring, sharing, clowning, dancing, and telling stories. The twinkle in the eyes was hard to miss as the little fingers coloured their favorite superheroes in all new themes.
Remuna, a girl from Sikkim, suffers from phocomelia where her hands and feet are smaller in comparison to her body. She was busy cutting out a mask of Batman, her favorite superhero. “I wish to be that strong. I think I am very strong already. I love it here, there are so many children who cannot hear or speak but they are so good at colouring. I want to come to this place again,” she said.
Likewise, Harsha, a girl from Madhya Pradesh, is autistic. She picked Spiderman of all the superhero options. She gave her own colours to the famous comic book character. She had difficulty speaking but her smile said it all!
There were children from an NGO in Nepal, Child Watavaran Centre. Ranju Preti, the principal of this centre, said, “We provide shelter to socially-disabled children. They have come here for the first time and I can’t express how happy I feel when I look at them laughing and enjoying. All of this is very new for them.”
As many as 54 teams, three among them from Australia, Nepal, and Afghanistan, participated in the grand event.
The clowning workshop by Praveen Tulpule seemed to be one of the liveliest. Here’s an insight to the workshop:
The festival began on November 14 with the idea of ‘zero waste’ and theme, ‘Superheroes’. They conducted a fancy dress competition for tiny tots before the event started officially where these kids enacted their favorite superheroes from Superman, Batman, Mother Teresa, and soldier. Besides, there were other solo competitions, too.
Smruti Mohapatra, the chief coordinator of this festival, could be seen distributing candies among the children. When asked about Anjali, she said, “On the one hand it is an effort to empower children who had been stigmatized and oppressed so they may participate fully in society and on the other hand it focuses on bridging gaps by enabling disabled and non-disabled children discover each other in four days, now five days, camp. In this journey, Anjali has also grown into a joyful learning model”.
Disability is never an obstacle in between you and your joy, and these kids from various parts of the world proved it with all their subtle attempts at the festival, which has a come a long way from when it commenced back in 2001 with 77 children with disabilities. In the 16 years of its journey, it has reached out to more than 10,000 children and helped many disabled students to successfully complete courses, obtain jobs and thus get opportunities.