Delhi woke up to wet streets on Sunday, the 7th of February – always a welcome sight for Delhiites. But in a city where there’s always something happening, an unannounced shower is bound to rain on someone’s parade – or in this case on the children’s event. In the courtyard of the Katyayani Balika Ashram in Jhandewalan, a handful of volunteers stood with upraised heads, alternatively contemplating the grey sky and the steadily soaking tent. Bhumi’s Ignite Fest was to be held here in Delhi for the first time and nobody expected it to begin this way.
Our volunteers are not anything if not resilient and after a bit of discussion everyone got to work to ensure a successful event. Soon the children from the Rajendra Ashram Centre arrived with their models for the science exhibition. They were joined a while later by the girls of Katyayani Ashram. The rain had faded to a near-constant drizzle that kept everyone on their toes and the all-important projects were smuggled to the safety of the tent by the volunteers. Soon the tent was full of energy and bustle, with 67 kids and 22 Science volunteers running around to complete their projects – applying the final touches to their models, transferring stationary across the tent; this was a big day and a little water was not going to dampen any spirits. And so, when the projects had been laid out, positions taken, presentations rehearsed in bright little voices, nametags decorated and pinned, volunteer didis and bhaiyas tracked down to clear final doubts, the rain had stopped and the sun could be spotted working its way out of grey clouds. The Fest was finally underway.
The visitors had arrived! As curious little faces of children from other foster homes, college students and adults began to fill the tent, the volunteers stepped back and let the children take centre-stage. The visitors walked through the exhibit learning about Greenhouse gases from one group, about the Nitrogen cycle from another, and about the human body, its digestive, and circulatory systems from a third before being transported into space to learn about the planets from a fourth group. Other groups gathered crowds as they demonstrated and explained the revolutionary principles behind items such as the simple torch, the impressive Hydraulic lift and the dazzling kaleidoscope. Happy little voices explained to their captivated audience the wonders of electricity as they worked their model radios and generated electric currents from magnetic fields.
There, in a damp tent and under grey skies, the children had somehow managed to fit in the whole world. The science projects traversed the gamut – beginning with the exhibits on the planet and the solar system it revolves in, they then zoomed in on detailed models of the human body and the wondrous internal systems that sustain it and then onto the projects that showcased the wonders of science harnessed by us humans. It is probably safe to assume that every one of the 65-odd visitors left the exhibition having learnt something new.
By the afternoon the skies had cleared and the visitors were thinning out. After a hearty lunch and the last few rounds of exhibiting their models to the final few visitors, the event was brought to a close with the distribution of certificates to the children and the science volunteers – recognition for the hard work they’d all put in over the last month, working with each other and learning from each other, to bring about this successful and satisfying event. And that’s how the day ended – with loud cheers and congratulatory claps, joyous shouts and calls for “group pics” & “selfies” emanating from a little red tent in an ashram in Jhandewalan, under a clear and sunny sky.