Orphaned Mahima Patil (13) says, “I got my grandparents during RYLA and am grateful to Rotary for creating such a beautiful relationship for me.” For 70-year-old Vaishali Rajshekhar Bhutkar, it is like “moving to a new sweet home with the overwhelming love and affection of children kindling a never-before joy in me.”
A two-day RYLA, Khushi, hosted by RC Kolhapur Sunrise, RID 3170, helped create such close bonds when 200 orphaned children from the Bal Kalyan Sankul orphanage met 25 elders from the Matoshree Vruddhashram, an old age home in Kolhapur. It was a coming together of two generations and the bonding was instant. “It was touching for us, rather emotional, as Rotarians to see children enjoy a lively banter with the senior citizens, neglected by their families and forced to live in a special home,” says club president Chandan Mirajkar.
The programme was supported by the district Rotaract led by DRR Pranjal Marathe and ZRR Abhijeet Patil. “It was a get-together between two generations who miss their relatives. And when they departed after the RYLA, most of them wept as by then the children and elders had really bonded,” recalls Mirajkar.
When Pranjal and Patil approached the club in October last year with the “idea of opening a platform for orphans and neglected elders, I readily agreed to support it with funding,” he explains.
There were several high moments at the RYLA. “During a visit to the D Y Patil Hospital and Research Centre, Kolhapur, the children had a guided tour of the DPU Clinical Simulation and Skills Lab where high-fidelity manikins offer a hands-on experience in a controlled environment for medical students to reinforce classroom learning,” says DRR Pranjal. They also visited Gokul milk plant, one of the largest dairy facilities in the country, to learn the process of milk production and distribution.
However, the main highlight is the visit to the Kaneri Math, a seven-acre museum in a rustic set-up with lifelike sculptures and scenes that depict ancient life in India with its rich heritage. On the first day, childhood games were played, instilling a strong bond between youngsters and elders, followed by a pottery workshop. The ancient, but forgotten Mardani Khel, a martial art for self-defence, was showcased to the inmates. Both Mirajkar and Pranjal are excited to make this special RYLA an annual feature.