Shishukunj (a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Garden of Children’) is an International Children’s Organisation dedicated to the welfare and cultural development of gujurati speaking children.
Currently there are centres running in India, UK, USA, Kenya and now in Australia – Both in Melbourne, VIC and Perth, WA.
Shishukunj Melbourne has been operational since its inaugural launch in September 2009 in the South Eastern area of Melbourne, Victoria. Sunday Kendra (school) is held at Kent Park Primary School in Ferntree Gully every fortnight Sunday.
Being a community based organisation, activities, management & Kendra is run fully by well trained and experienced volunteers, who have been involved with Shishukunj Nairobi for over 20 years. Shishukunj Melbourne operates on a non-profit basis.
Below is some information about the activities carried out by Shishukunj Melbourne.
BAAL PRAVRUTI (CHILD WELFARE ACTIVITIES)
These child welfare activities are primarily for children and youth. Shishukunj Melbourne’s main aim is to provide an environment rich in positive values, which allow the hidden potential within each child to flourish. Shishukunj aims for holistic development of the child encompassing physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social development.
This is done by having organised fortnightly or regular gatherings at a centre (Kendra) where many activities are carried out.
Prathna, Bhajan and Dhoon (Prayers/Singing/Chanting) – Prayers form a very important session during which the children recite and sing Shishukunj prayers and are made aware of the meanings of the verse/stanza. It forms the basis of spiritual realisation and oneness with the almighty.
Baudhik (Moral Sessions) – These sessions are aimed to inspire children by taking examples from the lives of great personalities and sacred scriptures of both Eastern and Western philosophy. The session plays a very important role in the character building of an individual and helps one to discriminate between right and wrong.
Kawayat – This is a unique activity consisting of Dumbells, Lezim, Magdar, Lathis and Calisthenics which may be performed with an accompaniment of music. The activity is disciplined and is kept in time by counts.
Games – A comprehensive range of both western, modern and traditional Indian games are played to provide both physical and mental development as well as team spirit. Games are also used to help children interact with their peers.
Baal Sabha / Manoranjan (Entertainment Programme) – The whole session is conducted and presented by the members. The programme would typically consist of stories, songs, puzzles, riddles, plays, jokes and any other activities that the children come up with and would like to present. All items are prepared by the members themselves to entertain everyone else. The session is aimed to spot talents, remove fears of audience and generally to develop public speaking and confidence in oneself.
Nasto (snacks) – An opportunity for member & family to celebrate or remember an occasion by sharing some Nasto or Prasad (offering) with all members present. The event is more about sharing our joyous and reflective moments in life with our extended family and others with the spirit of social welfare.
Talim Sessions – These sessions are for those members who are between the ages of 12-14 to learn about Shishukunj but in depth so they can start taking over responsibilities from older members.
Shibir (Camps) – There are various camps held through the year. Talim Shibir, Shishu Shibir and most important in everybody’s diary ‘Jeevan Ghadtar Shibir’! Talim Shibhir is a camp for those under training to become Karyakars (Leaders) to learn more about Shishukunj and in depth, and instrumental in team building.
Picnics – Events where parents are invited to join our members, both children and karyakars for a fun day.
Sports Day – This is a fun packed indoor/outdoor event, organised by older children members. Games include various indoor and traditional competition (Dodgeball, Langdi and more) as well as athletic type events.
Festivals – Navratri, Diwali and Christmas are among the festivals celebrated every year.
Baal Din – This is “Children’s Day” in honour of Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday to reflect his special affection for children. The celebration is a huge party for the children comprising of fun, games and a feast. The highlight of the day is the variety programme performed in front of children and parents.
Parents Open Day – Children’s progress is discussed between parents, Shishukunj karyakars, language teachers and Dasta Nayaks / Nayabs (Group leader / assistant leader).
“BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD” – MAHATMA GANDHI
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