Zindagi Trust organized a picnic at the Lake View Park in Islamabad on the banks of Rawal Dam for all the 7 Paid to Learn schools for working children in Rawalpindi. The activity was organized upon the request of the students themselves who were divided into two groups with 240 students in one and 260 in another and taken to the park on separate days via buses. The students felt like they had been let free to have a ball! They spent most of their time in the big play area with rucksacks, slides, merry-go-rounds, carousel, a Ferris Wheel and swings.
There tree-lined park is a beautiful setting with a splendid view of the Rawal Dam in the background. Most students had never been to the park and were delighted just to be surrounded by the natural green beauty, decorated further with a a variety of a 1000 plants, remarkable terracotta pottery and sculptures by famous artists, and fragrant shrubs and flowers. It was a nice break for the teaching staff too, some of whom enjoyed the bamboo rest shades while supervising the children play. The students also got to see electric powered buses, bicycles and cars at the Park.
It was a full-day event, so in between frolic in the play area and lunch, the students sat on the lush green grass in the open springtime sunshine and, on their teachers’ suggestion, relaxed by reciting poems, mono-acting, extempore speeches, jokes, songs, dances etc. They also enjoyed the symphony of a young musician in the park.
As children who work to support household income, most of these students are not completely new to the idea of being independent. However, being told they were free to enjoy themselves any way they liked as long as they did not go beyond the area being supervised by the staff was truly liberating experience for them. They felt like free birds and happily scattered about in groups – some hopping to the play area, some relaxing under the shade of a tree, others starting a game of football and cricket with their teachers, and still others venturing to the spot which had a great view of the dam as well as a lovely breeze.
It was a memorable experience for the students who felt refreshed and ready to take on their studies with renewed vigour after the outing. As most of these students work and live in the slums of a crowded city, getting away for a day and being surrounded by greenery and fresh, unpolluted air proved to be an outing they could not get enough of. We hope to organize more picnics by the park in the future.
Project: Paid to Learn
Date: March 2012
Cost: Entry tickets, Lunch, Transport