As October, a month full of festivals, dawned upon us, we at HMI planned a different kind of celebration; Knowledge Week, with an emphasis on the Joy of Giving.

Now, you might wonder: Why combine Knowledge Week with the Joy of Giving?

In the words of physicist, thinker and humanitarian Victor Weisskopf: “Human existence is based upon two pillars: Compassion and knowledge. Compassion without knowledge is ineffective; knowledge without compassion is inhuman.” For a truly holistic education, the learning of the 3 R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) is not enough; internalising the human values of compassion and understanding is equally important. Giving our children and their parents a medium to participate in an activity that emphasizes sharing and caring for others, was truly a great joy to us.

We conducted a number of programmes during Knowledge Week.Every day of the week had a different theme. We started with ‘Book Swapping’ where everyone bought a book that they wished to donate. Children shared the books with one another for a couple of days and then returned them to the centre. All the books were then donated to Mumbai Mobile Creche, an NGO that helps children of migrant labourers.

The next day, kids were given a treasure bag full of mystery items, and encouraged to discover more about them. We chose the items with care, as this was supposed to be an exercise designed to sharpen the children’s investigative skills while introducing them to objects they may not have come across before.

On Wednesday, the kids were in for a surprise – it was their parents who got to be the stars of the show! Many of our parents enthusiastically volunteered to tell stories, showcase their talents in craftwork or cookery – one even conducted a magic show!

The next day was ‘Role Play Day’ where children came dressed up as their favourite characters, and everyone discussed those characters and the stories they belonged to. Friday was celebrated as the ‘Joy of Sharing Knowledge Together’ Day, when all students from all classes and age groups mingled with each other, with each class presenting an item where they shared their knowledge of themselves with the others.

The week concluded with the grand ‘Joy of Giving’ celebration, which was the highlight. After a week of sharing their knowledge with each other, our children and their families put up a mini fest for underprivileged children from Mumbai Mobile Creche. Parents set up many stalls for games, art, origami, snacks, juice, gifts and organized storytelling, rhymes and dance workshop for the visitors. The smiles on the faces of all the kids were our biggest indications of success!

Many of our parents participated enthusiastically and we were bowled over by their exuberance and spirit. Sonali Satam, whose daughter Ditikaa attends playgroup at HMI Bhandup, was warmly appreciative as she said, “The experience was very fulfilling! I have to make a special mention of your center staff who make all these fun activities possible for the kids and parents alike. Kudos to their efforts!”

We are grateful to Mumbai Mobile Creche for giving our team a chance to interact with them, with both sides gaining mutually from the experience. As Manshvi Palan, the Education Officer at MMC put it, “It was a wonderful experience for our children. The children thoroughly enjoyed the games and dance sessions.” The pleasure was all ours!

At HMI, it is deeply ingrained in our ethos, that while we explore the world around us, we should also contribute to it. Knowledge Week was a humble attempt on our part to take knowledge-seeking beyond the four walls of the classroom, to encouragethe spirit of sharing and helping in our children, and to get parents – a child’s most important role models – to involve themselves in this noble endeavour as well.