Volunteering with kids – Okra & french beans printing

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I used to always think I will make time to volunteer.. One day for sure. I had excuses galore – Oh! I work full time, The kid is small, I don’t have time. But, I could never muster the courage to actually go out and help. Oh yeah! I helped the house help and the cook, and the occasional person who came to me asking for help.. I donate regularly to NGO .. But I never spent any time “on the field”. When Lil  P turned 5, I felt that the kid should learn to be more thankful for all the things she was fortunate to have been born with. Volunteering with Anand Vidyalaya gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. I make it a point to take her along and Lil P loves to help. The first class, Lil p felt lost.. and really demanded a lot of my attention… Over the many days that I have spend time with the kids there, she has really come to appreciate what we do for them and for the fact that there are kids who have so much lesser.  

This weekend at the Anand Vidyalaya, there were very few volunteers so I decided to teach the kids some simple vegetable printing. I picked up half a kilo of Okra and French beans and arrived at the Center. I teased the kids that we were going to make sambar for them.. It was saddening that something as simple as vegetable printing was not known to them. We cut the okra and the french beans into smaller pieces. Each kid got 1/2 a okra & 1 french bean was cut into 4 pieces. I showed them simple techniques and the kids came up with their own designs. I try to keep the costs to a minimum .. with 80 kids, even a budget of 10rs per kid would cost us 800 rs. [Please do consider donating art & craft materials for them]

Okra printing with kids

 Okra dipped in paint and stamped looks like a flower. The kids were really surprised by the simplicity of it. I had purchased about 20 tempera paint boxes.. costing 10 rs each last week. A single box of paint is shared by 6 kids. Each kid also has a single brush to paint with. Can you imagine your kid painting with such meager supplies. Mine wouldn’t.  Yet, you will see most kids happily sharing , patiently waiting for their turn.

Vegetable printing

Their creations amaze me each and every time. Aren’t they pretty? We made gardens, bouquets, baskets of flowers. the French beans cut oblong helped them print leaves.

This was a fairly quick exercise and since we still had time left, I showed them how to use their thumbprints to paint a fish. Fairly simple again, but even the elder kids loved it. Next week I plan to take Ed Emberley’s book on thumbprint art with me. Here are a few pics

Thumbprint fishes

You don’t really need that much time. An hour a week is all it takes sometimes.  Many volunteer for selfless reasons, but service can do so much good for the volunteer too! Especially for the kids. Just imagine.. which is better? You telling your kids that it is important to care about the poor? or to go and actually do something about it?  What they see, they will remember.

Consider volunteering more often to help others, not only for all the wonderful benefits that come from spreading kindness, but also for the joy that people experience when they help others.

Read more about the NGO I volunteer at –


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  1. Love what you are doing Shruti!! And totally get it. When N turned 4 recently we went to a homeless shelter and donated a half of our cake (we had intentionally ordered a big one). And that motivated me to volunteer at their computer hub once a week to help people who come in use the computers! And it feels good to be able to do something for someone else. All the best for what you do and will share this with my friends in Bangalore 🙂

  2. This post moved me, Shruti. Not that I didn’t know about how under-privileged some kids are, but reading an account of it moves you further. I am ashamed to admit but I had messaged you on FB about donating stuff to Ananda Vidyalaya. Everything is ready, but haven’t found the time to courier it. Will do it soon, Shruti. Do bear with me.
    Proud of what you are doing!

  3. I have volunteered locally in a govt school to teach but not regularly enough. But each time I go there and just spend time with the kids, I feel so thrilled and excited. I feel I am doing that real tiny part that I should for the overall benefit of mankind. I should do more and I hope I do too.

  4. True Shruti! Volunteering along with kids makes so much sense…
    And, first couple of your lines.. its totally me!! Thought of joining you many a time.. but the timing clashes with one other commitment of mine. Hope to sort that out eventually, and join you.

    Lovely creations by the kids!

  5. Shruti, you are doing such amazing work with these kids. Have been hearing about it for a while of course, through 220.
    You make me proud, to not look for excuses and just go ahead and bringing happiness to their lives :). Kudos!

  6. Shruti… have always thought of doing something like this but never got around to it… you are an inspiration and I hope I do have a similar story to share soon


  7. Thats a very kind deed and such a wonderful thought to give something back to those who need the most. Good on you shruti and surely I can also relate to the excuses

  8. @TypeWriterMom – It was difficult for me too. 🙂 But the joy on the kids faces makes me want to go every week.
    @Biju – I’m not doing anything great. The kids and the institute are the stars.
    @swati – Drop me an email. 🙂 Maybe you can join us some day.
    @Ruth – Hugs.The thought is what counts the most. Go do it! 🙂
    @Aparna – Thank you so much. 🙂
    @Priya – yes, lets plan one with ammu n lil p 🙂
    @monika – aren’t they? Hugs. I still keep hearing about cake aunty 😉
    Sirisha – Yay! you go girl! 🙂