Children should be moulded from a young age to become better human beings in the long run. This belief was further affirmed when we recently hosted a delegation of Japanese high school and university students from Tokyo and Hiroshima in one of the adopted government schools in Agra. We renovated this primary school in Baluganj, Agra, to significantly improve its overall condition so that the children can have an elevated schooling experience and safety and hygiene are no longer questioned.
We enjoyed this delegation immersing themselves in the culture of India. As they arrived, the girl champions of IDF welcomed all the delegates with flower petals, followed by putting ‘Tika’ on their foreheads. The delegation was led by a university teacher of mathematics who explained the purpose of their visit to India and, in particular, the primary school in Agra. They intended to have these high school and university students witness the education system in India at the grassroots level. With the peculiar socio-economic situation of government schools, this interaction could help these delegates learn how such schools function and how they uplift underprivileged children with education. According to them, such experiences develop the students and make them aware of the nuances of the world around them. This was also an opportunity for the primary school kids to learn about Japanese culture and have an informal interaction with the delegates.
IDF has pioneered children’s education for years and knows how to engage kids well. We organized an interactive drawing session for the delegates and kids, where they could let their imaginations run wild and break down the barriers of language through art. Seeing how quickly they connected and bonded over their shared love of creativity was incredible. Such activities inculcate the feeling of oneness and further embed the habit of sharing, being proactive, and, most importantly, appreciating the differences among each other. This activity had a significant cultural exchange, with the school kids learning about famous Japanese cherry blossoms, sushi, and anime culture. So it is undoubtedly true that art transcends borders and languages.
To commemorate this special event, we created the International Youths Friendship Tree, where each delegate left a painted handprint as a symbol of togetherness and cross-border alliance. Seeing how they all came together to create something beautiful and meaningful was heart-warming. We were beyond grateful to see some delegates showcase their art skills by painting on the library walls. With such pieces of Japanese culture left by them in the library, they have certainly left a mark for the school kids to remember them by.
As the delegation bid farewell to the school kids, staff, and the IDF team, we handed them hand-woven friendship bands as a token of our gratitude. We were honoured to host this visit and show them first-hand how NGOs like ours work alongside the government to bring about social change by advocating for education, equal rights, and opportunities for all. In short, this visit truly celebrated the power of education, cultural exchange, and the impact of working together for a common goal. Moments like these remind us why we do what we do, and we’re excited to continue making a difference in the world, one child at a time.