August 2005 News

Kids from Kashmir have a date with Delhi

27 August 2005
The Hindu
Mandira Nayar

New Delhi: Far away from the sound of bullets that they have now become immune to, five boys from the Kashmir Valley have finally got to be 'ordinary'. Getting a taste of normalcy from the Capital's bustling malls to packed cinema halls, these students from Baramullah - a district that has borne the brunt of violence - are out to discover a world beyond the gun. Under an exchange programme with Delhi's Vasant Valley School arranged by the Human Aids Society, an organisation working with victims of violence, these students have lived under the shadow of terror and its ramifications far too long. The Human Aids Society that dreams of making a difference by involving is working closely with the Sadbhawana Trust to help victims get back on their feet. 'I have got so much love and affection from the boys we are staying with that I don't feel I have left home at all. We have grown up with the violence so much that we have got used to it. I hope the young people here never get to see the kind of violence we have,' said Adil from Hanifia Model School at a press conference here on Saturday. While the exchange programme was envisaged to get young people to interact and learn from each other, the traffic has been only one way for now with the boys from Kashmir coming to Delhi. With parents in Delhi getting nervous about the situation in the Valley before they were to leave on the trip last year, it might take some time to get the process to really work, but for boys like Wahid who have never been outside Kashmir even half measures are enough. 'I went to see the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where I want to study. I would like to be an IAS officer, but my mother wants me to become a doctor. So I am doing this for her. We are going to see the Taj Mahal on Sunday. We have seen only seen pictures of it before, now we will see it for real,' he said with a big smile. Bonding with new friends, for the 'hosts' it was simply about hanging out with friends. From chatting about films to going out to eat 'chaat' for Delhi children it was about finding stories of real people behind the pictures they see on TV. 'I never felt that there was any difference. I thought that they would be weaker and that they might have a problem since they have been exposed to such violence. But I found they were stronger. I was born in Kashmir and our house burnt down in 1999. I think I wanted to know what I would have been like if I stayed back,' said Shuchir from Vasant Valley. Coping with their extraordinary situation, their childhood has been far from regular, but they have managed to keep their feet grounded and still come out stronger not just emotionally. Equipped with all the answers, the team from Kashmir came out on top among all the Delhi schools in a quiz competition. While they might not have the perfect solution for all their problems, they have one thing that makes them stand tall: optimism.


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