Pathway believes in giving comprehensive rehabilitation and education to all the special children it serves, hence another dimension of holistic approach using theatre as a medium has been utilized. Pathway joins hands with a wonderful organisation known as RASA to allow our children to grow in this sphere. Two hundred children from various special schools were drawn together to perform a mega event, based on stories drawn from Hindu mythology, at Narada Gana Sabha under the banner of JAYA.
Children of all ages had practised their part for nearly three months. As the event day dawned there was hectic activity. As usual, the older kids took care of the younger ones and finally after all the checks and rechecks of their baggage and snacks they boarded the bus to the city’s main theatre hall. Food, which is always their highlight of a usual day, was given the least importance. They constantly chattered and smiled as our cast of 20 children made their way to the make-up room to finally don the beautiful costumes which would transform them into the various characters. It was amazing to watch their confidence in whatever they do. The fear of stage was missing.
As their part of the programme, the children of pathway depicted the goodness of a “rishi” known as Dadhichi.
The brilliant portrayal of Lord Indra was enacted by Prabhu. Vrinda, also known as the demon or Saurav, was played by Prasanna. The forest creatures were played by Mariya and Devi as peacocks, Srinidhi, Divya, Priya and Anitha as deters, and Prathap and Harish as parrots. The befitting role of Lord Brahma was enacted by Mohammed and Godess Saraswathi’s role was portrayed by Vani. The peasants were staged by Tamizmani, Karthik, Manoj, Sudeep and Anand. The other court kings of Lord Indra were played by Saravanan, Bharath, Gopi, Vaidhyanathan and Joseph. Madhavan, Murugappan, Venkat and Deva shared the role of the asura Vritra. The main central character Dadhichi was astoundingly enacted by Subramani.
The precision in their movements and complete synchronised act of all the cast members evoked thunderous applause. After the event was over they proudly posed for photographs.
Our founder had decided that every year some awards will be given in honor of donors who have so tirelessly worked to uplift the children and give them a new life. Three awards have been instituted in name of Judge William Sheffield for a boy child, ADSN Prasad for a girl child, and Sabin Foundation for a deserving child. All these awards are meant to honor children who come from very difficult backgrounds and still excel in their studies. Their grit in completing the course is something to be recognised by all.
Though we had decided to award these children in the month of November, we were hit by nature’s fury and the entire centres were challenged by floods for two months. Our energies were focused on getting back to normalcy. By January things started settling down and we re-organised ourselves to complete this event. Our mentor and friend Prof. M S Swaminathan very graciously agreed to meet the children and bless them. We are very thankful to this wonderful gentleman who has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of only three from India, the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology” because of his leadership of the ever-green revolution movement in agriculture and by Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, as “a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction”.
The awardees were nervous and eager to meet this wonderful soul as we traveled three hours to Prof. M S Swaminathan’s cabin. As soon as he saw me he got up from his chair and without a word hugged me and softly spoke about Prasad and said how much he had meant to him. No words were necessary since his expression and the silent tear said all. My eyes were brimming with tears but the happiness of the event took over as he focused on the children and greeted each one of us with fatherly warmth. He remarked that he was blessed to be a part of Pathway, recalled the work that Prasad had done, and blessed us to carry on this wonderful work. We thank him for his kindness, humbleness, and love.
One of our staff, Linda, read out the awards. The first, given in the name of Dr. A D S N Prasad, was to a girl child Gomathi, and the Sabin award was given to Kaviyarasi. These two girls hail from very humble, poverty stricken background with only the mothers acting as angels in bringing up their children. In spite of having some medical discomfort in standing, the professor made us proud, acknowledging the parents of the children by honoring and underlining their sustained efforts in bringing them up facing all adversities. The Judge William Sheffield award was given to Surya who was an orphan when he came to the farm in his pre-kindergarten school days. He always believed that Pathway was his family which will always be close to his heart. He has made us proud by following all the right paths and today has achieved a diploma in computers.
Each child was personally honoured with a shawl, a garland, a medal, a small gift, a cash prize of ten thousand rupees, and a certificate to their name which they proudly displayed in the group photos which were taken after the event.