Pranav Soman was just eleven years old, when he spent one afternoon in a classroom of special children, doodling and interacting with differently abled children.
He was on holiday trip from Dubai to spend his time at his maternal grandma’s house and he stumbled upon a board titled ‘SwamiBrahmanand Pratishthan, School for Special children’ during his casual evening walk on Disha marg at Artist Village in Belapur.
“What is the meaning of Special Children?” he asked his grandma.
Grandma tried to explain him the meaning of ‘Special Children’ then decided to bring him to school to let him experience it personally. The staff welcomed him and asked him if he would like to spend some time with these children. He spend few hours in different classrooms, doing various activities like drawing, painting and playing some indoor and outdoor games. He enjoyed himself a lot.
When he went back to Dubai, he was asked to write an essay on his holidays in India. The teachers were very impressed with his account of his experience with special children and they wanted to know more. He was very happy to spread the awareness about these children.
Its three years now. Pranav makes regular trips to India every holiday during the months of July and August, one month in Mumbai and one month in Kerala. During his stay in Navi Mumbai, he comes to school everyday to spend his free time with the children, teaching them his favourite sport basket ball and football. He happily volunteers to help children in their activities. He knows all the children by their first name and they have become his friends.
The children are so fond of him that they brighten up each time he makes his visit to the school. I asked him if he has any anecdote to share, if he remember some episode that has touched him. He narrates:
“On one of my visits, I accompanied children to the swimming pool. I am aware that as an outsider, I am not allowed to swim, so I just stood there watching them swim. Prateek, one student who was swimming, asked me to come into the pool to join him and when I told him that I am not allowed, he started to cry. I was very touched by his love for me.”
“I want people to know that special children are not weird or abnormal, they are just different. They are human being like you and me. I feel that people should not block them from their activities but accept them and integrate them in the society. Be their friend, know them well and then you will realise that they are more friendly and loving than the normal friends that you have.”
He is just 15years old now, but his high thinking has really impressed me. God bless him.