We began the session by narrating a story about Santa Claus and how he gives gifts to children and makes everybody happy. Initially very few children were ready to believe in Santa—the idea of a fat old man dressed in a red overall who comes every Christmas night with a bag full of presents for children was alien to them.
The children from our centre confessed that they never received any gifts. As we discussed and debated, some of them tentatively agreed that Santa Claus’ presents could be more than toys or clothes, it could also be in the form of blessings like—being lucky to have food on one’s plate, lucky to go to school and study and very lucky to have good friends round one.
After the storytelling and discussion sessions, we played the ‘Santa Claus Game’. In this game twelve students (from class five and six) were divided into four groups of three each. Each group member had to imagine being Santa and talk about the gift they would give to the members of another team.
Suman, one of the centre children, wanted to give a pen to his friend, Pritam, because he felt that would help his friend write well, study harder and eventually help him become a successful person. Pritam, on the other hand, wanted to give a football to Suman, as he was good at playing the sport. Pritam hoped that his friend would become a well-known footballer. One of the children wanted to give his friend a computer so that he might become a computer engineer and in return he got a plane so that he could become a pilot and a globetrotter. A child named Ashih wanted to give toys to his friend, Ajay, so that he could relax and enjoy while studying, whereas Ajay confessed that he would love to give his friend a bicycle so that he wouldn’t have to walk long distances.
At the end of this session we had twelve little Santas. And the fact that they wanted to give gifts that would help their friends one way or another made us realise that there was more to these children than that meets the eye. Innocence, warmth and love that is inherent in all children just needed a gentle tap and these qualities were spontaneously manifested. ‘Compassion’ as a word may not feature in their vocabulary but how beautifully did they demonstrate it through the game!
Ayushi Sethia and Ashmita Sarkar