Nostalgic musings

SOS, mirage of hope amidst sick cities and sick people

Educated child can read books. Played child can write books.

My heart beats with raptor when I see small kids play around and frolicking with themselves in rare green spaces in narrow congested alleys in inland cities. It put me forth to my past days in childhood days in SOS. Me and my friends used to roam and gamboled in green grounds. Wide homes, stretched green spaces and beautiful children playing happily-these are characteristics features of every Villages all over the world.

I also remembered my days when I first entered in a wide array of green trees, flowers, and wider grounds where small children frolicking and playing freely with caring nobody. Fresh air, beautiful aroma with clean sky were the wonderful traits of SOS village at that time. Still this has been maintained in all of its entities. Little kid who has never imagine to being around this beautiful microcosmic heaven. But, importance and need of such places is beyond his imagination as he can hardly able to acknowledge such a beautiful home. And he cannot even guess how this beautiful environment can impact upon him. Me alike other kids grew up as the time goes.

Now I am almost reached to my 37th of my age. And I am father of two kids. I am leaving inland of Kathmandu where one can hardly see the open spaces with fresh air and greeneries. Filthy air, polluted roads, dusted sidewalks, deteriorating structures, narrow lanes and so many disgusting bloated  edifices-the sad depiction of capital city of Nepal. Particulates of air pollutants hover on people in the cities. Kathmandu and other growing centers are virtually dead in terms of naturalness. Me, alike Kathmandu ties have to live in this condition. We are deprived of nature and likely to suffer from nature deficit disorder as said by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods.

Does any child who lost his/her parents will be broken for whole life? Does destitute child would remain emotionally unhealthy for the long time? Does love of others can replace love of father and mother?  
I am raising this theme because it matters immensely to the child who are orphaned or deprived of love and care when their parents are no more with them.

But in this world, there is nothing which could not be replaceable. So, is the love and care which every child deserves? And if noble institute like SOS exists in the world, then children should not be barred from basic needs and actualize their potential to become active citizen of given countries.

In this sense, I was privileged child who groomed in a way that any children in their families. I enjoyed open and green space which is tranquil and peaceful for my psychological and physical development. What were not there in SOS? Balanced nutrition, school for my education, mothers/aunties to care for me, sisters and brothers and friends from I received love, friendship and care. What a heterogeneous family members? What ethnic cauldron that the present Nepal represents melting pot of different caste, class and gender and religion and yet living harmoniously. I knew the word hatred and ostracization based on the differences only after integrating in the society which is somehow far below the values that I learnt from SOS.

What still envying facilities to me to date are: unlimited spanning of playground and sports facilities, trainings and competitions? Although, I may not be good example for SOS big people, but what if I say that I can live with humor and I have developed sense of aestheticism with awaken mind and have spiritualistic goal in my life so that I can face any difficulties and tackle any problems with resilience in my practical life? Are not these the qualities that individual should be equip with?

In this context, unfortunately, I am not able to provide my kids with these amenities of green space, enough play time and sports facilities. It’s not only about me. Any privileged parents in Kathmandu or other urban centers, almost all the children are grown up in congested areas with little or no opportunities to move or play. Modern school systems in Nepal too emphasized in aggressive education and disciplinary activities. Children or youths are stressed on getting education and be successful to fulfil the parental ambitions. Children, by their nature, want to play freely without adult supervision. They run, they fall, climb the trees, swim, play sports to their full energy. Play also help in blowing their steam. Studies have shown, freely playing children will have greater cognitive ability, physically healthy and emotionally tough. Play makes them prepare for adult life and equip them with social and emotional skills to tackle problems in their upcoming lives. Play and physical activity can help promote problem solving, creativity and develop children’s social skills necessary for the 21st Century.
Great minds often used to quote and credit their ingenuity for the playful childhood which unleased their creativity and increased neuroplasticity of their brains. Children groomed in SOS villages too have that potentials to contribute best for the society.

Opportunities to engage in adequate play, beautifully interwoven in raring the children in SOS is best component for child to grow as independent, risk takers with healthy body and mind to prepare for every challenges in future. SOS has done more than enough for its children whom it take them responsibly.
Most of the parents think that if the child could do well in education, it is because of inadequate education. So they push their child for more lengthy hours of education such as tuitions and extra coaching classes. Many studies have shown that, overemphasizing on education and not allowing children [even youths/adults] leads to disinterest in study and develop negativity in education and cause depression.

So, SOS founder, Dr Herman Gmeiner and the leaders throughout the generation have envision far better goal to nurture orphaned, destitute and stranded children around the world. I appreciated the tremendous efforts of the SOS leaders to pucker resources so that kids can have adequate and enriched environment to push their potential to envelop. I am fortunate enough to live in SOS. I always harp back, what if I am not taken to this beautiful place.

Inspired from:    
•    Children who were fortunate to get open and green space to play.
•    Peter Grays’s book “ Free to Learn”
•    Last child in wood by Richard Louve
•    Play associations on Europe, Finland, Sweden and other European countries.
•    Power of Play by David Elkind, American child psychologist.