…was this penguin race, which I absolutely adored. Well, if I remember right, it was my brother’s. My aunt got it for him, but well, me and the brother being best friends, we only had “our” toys. I remember the quiet evening we spent together, watching the penguins open their little door, come out one after the other, get on the slide and race. The most wonderful part was watching them go “plop, plop, plop” up the stairs. Now, when I think of it, I can’t remember why it was called a penguin “race”, because there was no way they could race each other I’m sure that toy is one main reason I’ve always LOVED penguins!
Two years later, the penguin race was broken to many pieces by a cousin, and I howled away to glory when the aunt chided “stop crying. it’s just a toy.” I still wonder if she realises it was never “just a toy”. It was my many evenings’ activity with my brother; a huge part of my childhood then; a factor that bonded us so well, apart from many others; my first memories of the joy of “sharing”.
Another favourite toy, was a rubber squeaky toy horse. I remember the many evenings I’ve spent making that lifeless little animal hop all over my room. I have no idea what I was thinking. That was in 1992. And when we shifted from that house and relocated to Guruvayur, I left my toy horse behind, and was depressed about it! In 2002, when we returned to our own house (I was in Std 12 then; yea, go calculate my age I’m 26, silly! ) I spotted a sunbleached, moss-covered, barely-recognisable rubber squeaky toy horse on our sunshade. I still remember how overjoyed I was! I picked it up, cleaned it (it was even mis-shapen after 10 years of heat and rain and cold and dirt and dust and loneliness) and took it to mom to ask her if she recognised it. She did, and she thought I was crazy But I can’t tell you how much of my childhood came rushing back — not just about the times I played with it, but about the time spent living in that house, and a million other joyful memories!
Then there were the two Barbie dolls, which I cared for like they were my kids; then came the G.I. Joes (yea, I was a tomboy for a few years ), the cars, the guns; the the soft toys, the teddy bears, the tweety, the monkey. The bunny, the rabbit, the piggy, the somersaulting pup!
There were board games aplenty: Memory (a visual recall game that’s excellent for stimulating memory power, observation and identification); Scrabbles (of course, the famous vocabulary andword power builder); Monopoly (the one that brings out the businessman/woman in you); Life (about life itself, insurances, loans, family, health and what not).
Needless to say, each game/toy had a lot of special memories attached to it; a lot of learning; a lot of wisdom; a lot of joy, fun and happiness. I still love toys — I’m not ashamed to say this out in public. Give me a little car, I’ll play with it Give me a penguin race, I’ll be as fascinated as I then was! Give me a box of memory cards, you wont hear from me for a looong while. Give me a soft bunny toy, I’d love to play puppetry with it (yes, I even use different voices for different dialogues! ) Yes, so I LOVE toys, and I love to see kids playing with them.
And now, when I look back on all the toys that we had, my bother and I, I realise that we had very few — i repeat: VERY FEW — toys that were meant for individual play. Most of our toys required two people to play…and if it didn’t, I think we took it up on ourselves to make it work that way, because that’s how we were conditioned with most of our other toys! I don’t know if it was intentional on our parents’ part to give us toys that made us share time, space and joy. I must ask. But whatever that was, we learnt the art of sharing, of building memories together, of learning to call it “ours” than “mine” or “yours”, of happily extending it to other kids, of openheartedly sharing our time, space and toys for the happiness of our cousins and friends…
And today, when I see toys or go to a toystore, I do not long for toys I never had as a kid — but I always long for my childhood to come back: those evenings where we would wait for Amma to return from work while the penguins went up and down the slides and steps…
Childhood is a time to remember…a phase of life when one is carefree, filled with innocence and finds joy in everything — the joy of learning, the joy of spending time with friends, the joy of playing with toys and the joy of having fun! I think toys are an integral part of childhood. They play a major role in moulding a child’s temperament, behaviour, personality and ideals. They instill the concepts of sharing, team playing, being responsible and so on.
Childhood definitely is a time to remember, and look back to longingly. And it is sad and heartbreaking that a huge number of children the world over have nothing but misery, loneliness and almost-nothing to look back to, remember, or long for!
So, when one fine day at work, I got this in a mail, I was sure I wanted to:
We formed a group within office, collected toys from wherever we could, segregated it by age and gift wrapped it. We now plan to take them around to a few NGOs with the help of Toybank officials, so we can see for ourselves the joy on the kids’ faces when they open up their gift wraps I’m already excited!
We held a 2-week drive at office, and here’s an overview of what we collected: over 200 toys ranging from soft toys and figure toys to board games, building blocks, card games, balls, colouring books, and coloring sets…
I must say, we all had a gala time, sorting toys, ooh-ing and aah-ing over some real superb ones, thanking the many people who cared to give these away, even kidding about planning to take a few home We didn’t, of course: but I say that because some of the toys were REALLY AWESOME, and I sincerely am grateful to the parents who decided to give them away, and to others who decided to BUY NEW ONES since they didn’t have any at home! And all the while, we kept saying how much fun the kids who’d receive them would have, when we ourselves were enjoying so much.
Here are a few pics of what we collected and wrapped
I urge all of you to take this up as an initiative in your respective organizations and bring a load of joy to some kids whom you’ve never even seen before! Toybank has a presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, UK and Bhutan. Even if you’re in a city where Toybank does NOT have its presence,I’m sure you can identify a few NGOs that would LOVE to take in these toys for the kids who they give a home to!
It’s an experience you’ll cherish for life. I can guarantee that!
Toybank stresses on the need for non-formal education through play for every child. The basic philosophy of this organization is centered on providing toys to children who have no access to them. Toybank will identify NGOs, municipal schools and hospitals for the distribution of the toys. Toybank has a presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, UK and Bhutan.
Toybank’s mission includes:
>> Ensuring that children from under privileged backgrounds receive toys through collection and distributions. >> Bridging the gap between children from different backgrounds by creative play/group events/community events. >> Making play space available for children through toy libraries using available infrastructure; to reclaim open public spaces for children. >>Designing and provide toys that are context specific, and to have toys made in local languages as well.
Toybank accepts new and old/used toys as long as they are still in presentable/working conditions. They accept all kinds of toys, except for those that promote racial or violence streaks (like barbie dolls, guns, artillery, etc.). They also accept stationary: crayons, colour pencils and paints, solouring books, story books, notepads/books, pens and pencils, etc.
This post is part of BlogAdda’s Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. I am exercising my BSR by supporting Toybank.
You can too, with three very simple steps. Visit http://www.blogadda.com/bsr-list and support the NGO’s cause.
You can also take a step further, contribute as much as you can, and spread awareness about this wonderful initiative