Vacation time: – 11th of April.
Once every 6 months, the students have holidays away from the Snehagram campus. While many will go home, some will stay back to help Snehagram.
I began my holiday on the 11th of April. We had a festival called Jathy, where my aunty and everyone celebrated. I engaged in many fun activities when I went home, such as riding a cycle in my house and playing volleyball. I also helped my sister with different things and met many people. Whenever I went to my shop, I would help my mother and spend time with her. A happy surprise came when Father Prakesh came and visited my home and my aunt’s home. I was able to spend time with him, and we had many good conversations, which made me very happy. I was also happy that my classmates were speaking with me in a friendly and free manner. I had a nice time with my grandmother as well. I really enjoyed my holiday break.
Finishing of the Secondary Examination March 21 to April 26
This Year 19 Snehagram Students successfully finished their 10th standard examination in the NIOS based. From the first year they came to Snehagram the students have been waiting for this special opportunity. Many laborious hours from both the teachers and students went into helping the organization cross this milestone. When we were preparing and studying for this exam, we often lost sight of its looming presence as the testing date drew nearer and nearer. We suddenly recognized the proximity of our exam when one day Shaji came to our class and reminded us of the day of the exam. From that day forward, we started systematically revising and preparing for our exams. Finally on March 21st, we started our practical examination and on April 4th we started our theory exam. As soon as we finished our first exam, we felt a sense of satisfaction and relief. We looked forward to the end of all our tests, and the next thing we knew; we had completed all our exams. It was all because of God’s grace and the conscientious nature of our teachers and their guidance that made us very confident to cross our first milestone. This journey that we endured in preparing for our exam was full of fun and excitement. This year we wish that 14 of our students experience the same rush of excitement and ultimate sense of satisfaction that we felt.
With the help of the National Institute of open Schooling Syllabus (NIOS), I was very happy to finish my 10th class examination. When I was taking the exam I felt very nervous and anxious. After I had finished my exam, I felt very happy and free from all the tensions worries I had felt in the exam hall. My friends and I were hoping for a good result on our exam.
The next course of action for those of us who have completed our exam will be to engage in many training and skill building lessons in various areas, such as vegetable farming, Nursery Farming, Chicken Farming, Dairy Farming, Mango farming, writing and reading skill building, computer training and photography training.
With this training, we are going to learn different skills that will not only build our own lives, but also sustain Snehagram in the coming years. We hope for the best and will continue to celebrate our lives every day.
Holi celebration: – Holi on 24th of April
Holi was an exciting celebration for us in particular because it was our first Holi celebration for Snehagram. We celebrated with the help of two guests. They brought brightly colored powders to play with and an assortment of delectable sweets to eat. They joined us for Holi celebration, and I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s faces smiling and smeared with colors. Even our staff joined with us to play. We danced and had lots of fun together. It was fully filled with joy, smiles and happiness. Our hall was decorated with different colors. After few hours, we settled down and had sweets. At first I was apprehensive to join the throwing of the colors, but my friends pulled me in to play. I am so happy that they did.
Fr Prakesh trip: – Trichy on 10th May,
On an early Tuesday morning, the students of Snehagram went with Fr Prakesh, Subin Sir and the Sneha Care Home Children to Trichy. While we were travelling, I was enjoying the time with the other children. It took us 7 hours to reach Trichy. Upon reaching, all the brothers welcomed us with open arms. We had our meal there and took some rest before we interacted with them. Afterwards, we visited Trichy dam. It was very nice. Later in the evening we welcome Fr. Prakesh by celebrating mass, as he was starting has new mission there. The next day, in the morning, we had a better view of the whole campus- it was beautiful. Then we visited St. Joseph’s church along with few more temples. It was fun climbing the hills and beholding the temples on top. We were very tired but happy at the end of the day when we reached the seminary.
My first international run: – on 15 may
I have been practicing for many runs this year. As the month April came near, the T.C.S world ten kilometers run came to my mind, and I asked father if I could participate. He graciously agreed and told me that a few other friends could compete with me. Hearing this, my friends and I started very seriously practicing. I suffered many cramps in my body while I was training, but I knew it was part of the experience. At the end of April, I received shocking news that it was too late to registration for the run. But luckily I had entered with the help of my coach, Elvis Joseph. My friends, being disappointed, never gave up their training with me. In the last week of the race I went to Bangalore for a trial on the track. It was exhausting for me, as I had to keep up the steady pace with the bike which was being ridden by my coach. During this period, my small mistakes were corrected, as to not lead to failure on the day of the official run. I was also taught a few very useful tricks to enhance my running speed. The race was on the 15th of May. On the evening of the14th, I was called for a press meeting with Rahul Boss and Mike Poulle, who is an Olympian and a record holder for long jump. I thought that this will be a simple meeting with Mike Poulle, but it was so much more, as I was in the presence of three other champions. All of us were asked a few questions. My questions were “When did you begin running and who inspired you?” to which I answered, “the world sport came to my mind in 2008 with the Champion in Me Program, which is a special sports program for children living with HIV/AIDS. Here I came to know what my potential was in running and also in long distance. In few years I began to run 5km and after four years I started to run 10kms. It was my favorite distance. I was inspired by three sides: my friends, my coach and my talent”. The second question was “what do you want to become?”
I replied, “I want t become a professional athlete and represent my country, India. I aim to work with UNAIDS in the United States and to be an ambassador there. I also hope to work with children living with HIV/AIDS and promote them through sports and bring down the stigma and discrimination that come with the disease”.
All this will not be achieved overnight, but gradually I will work towards this goal every day in my life until I reach it.
I was nervous of the next day race as it was my first international 10k run. Having prayed, I woke up feeling positive the next day. I was scared that I may be sick as my body was feeling a little bit weak. Having little energy drinks and fruits made me feel better. At the race, I was unluckily positioned in the last category (f), so I stood at the end of the line. However, I did not mind this, as my mind was only fixed on the finish line. So the race began, and I pushed the crowd, making my way forward. For the first 2.5 kilometers, running was tough, as I had a big crowd running with me. For the next 2kms I started running faster because of the thinning crowd around me. I began to speed up.
I kept running fast and steadily until I finished. I completed my world 10k in 40.11 minutes, in the ninth place in my category of 15-20 years. It gave me real joy in my heart and mind, and it also encouraged me to run well in future runs. I always realized that I can do what any other man can do, as I am a healthy, happy and skilled boy.
Leadership and entrepreneur training: – on 19th and 20th may
Leadership and entrepreneurship training was conducted on the 19th and 20th of May by Mr. Jai Kumar. It was my first real experience in life understanding the value of life and money. One thing which made me alarmed for the first time was my attempt to reach a target. The target was not so easy. It goes as follows: there are 40 mats which represent each child who is abandoned in the street; our mission is to save them. The target for the first and second round was to save 35 children. Unfortunately, we could not reach the target. To get the third chance, we had to pay money, so we asked and gave the money to receive this third chance. This time, our target was 200 children, but we could not do it. Jai Kumar sir gave us a fourth chance, but we told him that we had given up. But he implored us to think properly, so I started thinking and a thought came to my mind- life is much like Face book. People will like your writing and give you comments, but no one is going to solve your problems completely because everybody seems so busy in taking care of their own problems. So, I thought that if I get a job and my boss asks me to finish a difficult task but I give up, then my boss may not give me another chance. What my friends and I learned is that we must accept the fact that disappointment is inevitable, but we should never give up if any challenges come in our life.
On April 27th, I began my first experience being a facilitator and leading a big group of individuals living with HIV. Three of y friends and I went to Kolar, where the event was taking place. Upon arriving, I was saddened to see that most of the children there lived without much positive outlook on their own lives. This provoked me to ask myself a question, ‘am I actually happy with the way I am living my life despite my HIV status?’. The answer was yes, so I asked the other children my age the same question, but the answer was ‘no’ because of the discrimination that they had endured previously in their lives. This camp was all about to hope for the future, and as such I made it my goal to refresh their outlook on life.