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Huge staff turn-out to volunteer with disabled children by T&F India

02 Apr 2012 12:24

Almost two-thirds of Taylor & Francis India’s staff participated in a heart-warming day of volunteering on14 March to make a difference to the lives of special-needs children in New Delhi.

The high turn-out is testament to the quality and values of T&F employees in India, who organized the trip themselves as part of their support of the Family of Disabled (FOD) charity, which has served people with a range of disabilities since 1992.

A massive 41 out of T&F India’s total of 70 employees joined 40 children aged five to 15 from Aashirwaad, a school for mentally challenged students at Nasirpur village, New Delhi on a day out to the National Zoo and Children's Park, giving them a much-needed break from life within the walls of their schools or mental institutions.

The children have very few treats or opportunities to visit places outside their institutions owing to lack of funds and because they cannot move around on their own. Each T&F India employee took charge of one student, whom they mentored throughout the day, carrying them, feeding them, walking with them and telling them stories.

When the team saw the children for the first time, their reaction was one of stunned silence. “It made them realize that the life they lead is so much happier and more accomplished than that of the many children and people in this world who probably do not get a chance to live a privileged life like they do,” says Shafina Segon, head of marketing for T & F South Asia, who was one of the staff who volunteered.“The children looked at us with a big smile and sparkle in their eyes; no malice, no expectations – just pure love,” she recalls.

Sitting together to share some bananas and juice was the first step for volunteers and children to get to know each other. Once this was accomplished, the group headed off to the Zoo. For most of the children this was the first time they had ever seen ‘live’ animals – they had only heard of them or seen them on TV before.

“The joy of showing different animals and birds to the children was priceless,” says Shafina. “They became particularly excited when they spotted a well-camouflaged tiger in its enclosure, or saw Kiwis running about,” she recounts. 

After sharing a nice lunch, the party went on to the Children’s Park, where both children and volunteers played on the swings, slides, see-saws and other fun rides. “It was worth seeing,” says Shafina. “The look on the faces of children as they saw real animals and climbed swings was the best reward for each one of us ever.”

After the day's excitement and activities, the T&F India team said goodbye to the children with big hugs and goodbye kisses and gave them colouring books and crayons as parting gifts.

The day’s trip has had a huge and ongoing effect on the T & F volunteers. On the way back to the office, the participants discussed ways and means of getting more involved with Family of Disabled, thus hoping to give back to the community a little of what they gained from it by volunteering.

T & F’s involvement with Family of Disabled did not finish at the end of the day out. The company now sends all its used newspapers and magazines to the FOD workshop, where they are turned into envelopes by disabled people and sold to help them make a livelihood.

Moreover, since the volunteering day, ten employees have come forward to offer equipment such as wheelchairs, paediatric wheelchairs, tricycles and walking sticks. These will be officially donated at a special FOD ceremony on 29th April 2012.

T & F India’s annual end-of-the–year cards are also being designed by a disabled artist, who holds a painting gold medal.  In addition, an FOD donation box is kept at the office reception and 5,000 flyers have been printed to promote the charity’s cause through mailings and events. 
All official letter heads used for marketing will now have printed at the bottom:

“T & F India supports Family of Disabled, a registered charitable trust engaged in the service of people with disabilities since 1992. http://familyofdisabled.org“In all, a very satisfying day,” sums up Shafina.

There is no doubt that it certainly made a difference to the lives of the T & F volunteers, as well as to those of the children.