The Legal Aid vertical and the Sensitisation vertical of the IDIA Kerala chapter visited Swanthanam, an orphanage for girls at Edathala, Kochi, on 28 January 2020, to organise an interactive sensitisation session about legal education and law as a career.
Prior to the visit, the team decided to organise a collection drive in the National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi (NUALS) to procure sanitary napkins for the girls at the orphanage. Unlike our usual collection drives, this time around, we had decided to do something different. In order to spread awareness and bust the many myths and superstitions associated with menstruation, we put up several posters including to encourage people, especially men, to go and buy sanitary napkins. This was done with the aim to remove the shame around having a dialogue about something as natural as menstruation and the necessity for proper hygiene in the form of sanitary napkins. In addition to sanitary napkins, we also collected art and stationery supplies to take with us, for the children at the orphanage.
On the afternoon of 28th January, as we walked into a brightly lit room of the orphanage, a group of girls of varying ages beamed at us. We were given a warm welcome by the staff at the orphanage and were informed that many of these children were not orphans. Some of them were from broken families and others had parents who found it difficult to make ends meet and to support their children. Swanthanam ensured that all these girls had the opportunity to study. As soon we told the girls about the games we had in store for them, they were overjoyed. We had an ice-breaker session with the girls, where we passed around a small ball and took turns to introduce ourselves. The girls were extremely enthusiastic and missed no opportunity to ask us a host of questions. They excitedly chimed: “What is your favourite colour?” “What is your ambition?”, “Can you sing a song?”.
Thereafter, one of our volunteers, Sharath began to introduce the girls to the field of law, and told them about experiences in law schools and why one might want to pursue a legal education including career opportunities after graduating law school. All of us joined in and spoke to them about our own experiences in law school and during our internships. The girls asked us questions about the kind of people we interacted with and what made law school interesting. After sharing more stories, we found out that one of the girls wanted to become a lawyer. A few us of then sat down with her and answered her many questions. The girls were still full of energy and proceeded to dance and sing for us. Their performances made us realise how talented each of them were. Despite growing up under difficult circumstances, the enthusiasm and energy shown by these girls was infectious. Later, all of us then split into groups and enjoyed a fun session of charades.
We then filled all our stomachs with cake and distributed all the supplies we had collected. With smiling faces and a heavy heart, it was time to say goodbye to this group of amazing girls. We came in hoping to teach the girls something about the law but ended up learning life lessons from a group of little girls who gave us all memories to cherish forever.
This article has been authored by Ashna D (third year student of NUALS Kochi and Deputy Team Leader –Sensitisations team, IDIA Kerala Chapter) and C.H Harshith (third year student of NUALS Kochi and Member – Training and Mentorship team, IDIA Kerala Chapter).