A Sunday Well Spent — Through the Eyes of a Volunteer

Through a friend, I got invited to a #CFCommunity Event that seemed like an exciting proposition for my Sunday morning and Valentine Day Blues. It was an event being held at Cooperage Ground from 9am-1pm, on Valentine’s Day itself. We were invited to volunteer as part of a larger event, Spirit 2016, which was basically an Inter-School Sport Days organised for 5 different schools for people with special needs. ConnectFor was looking after the entertainment as well as some of the logistics for the event, and I thought that by volunteering for the same, at least I would feel like I was part of a larger community or group, so I RSVP’d and signed up.

I got to the venue that morning, still really sleepy from the night before, and looked out for the girls in the ConnectFor shirts, who were coordinating all us volunteers. I quickly found one, who greeted me with a big smile, and put me at ease, even giving me my own ConnectFor t-shirt! There were about 15 of us volunteers there in total, and Shloka and Maniti asked us our interests and preferences and matched us to roles accordingly. I shyly said that I enjoyed art, and they made me Chief Face Painter/ Tattoo Artist.

The first hour and a half was really slow, and passed in idle chatter. I was getting to get a bit impatient while I was waiting for people to come up to us, but I passed away time by watching some of the events of the day and trying my hand at the ‘Pin the Eye On the Bunny’ game that had also been organised by ConnectFor. At around 10:45 though, I had the first person come up to me for a paint tattoo: Maniti, one of the founders of ConnectFor, asked me to paint a heart with Connect For written around it.

Excited to get started it, I did it in great detail, bordering the heart, experimenting with fonts, and before I knew it a couple of kids had gathered around us looking at the painting with interest.

“Didi mujhe bhi dil”

“Aunty I want Batman”

“Aunty stars please”

Other than being shocked at being addressed as Aunty, I had barely any time to react as suddenly there was a queue forming to get tattoos. Luckily the game and the face painting were happening at the same booth, so we could keep people occupied as they waited. To our surprise, the demand for the tattoos grew so quickly, that two of the other volunteers moved from the registration desk to help me manage. At one point, Shloka, another volunteer and I, were sharing a chair as we drew frantically, trying to accommodate all those who were waiting. I drew star clusters and batman symbols, flowers and brown cats, and even filmily enough wrote names across people’s forearms!

I realised how much people were enjoying what we were doing when not just the beneficiaries, but even their minders, came and waited by our booth, requesting hearts with initials, or tattoos of musical notes on their necks, just enjoying the activity of it all. Before I could process anything, it was already 1pm and time to wrap up. I had been so consumed in these tattoos that I had lost complete track of time!

Just when wrap up had begun, and the other volunteers and I had started to pack away the paints, two brothers and their mother came and stood in front of me expectantly. The older boy had been one of the Spirit Day participants and wanted a heart tattooed on his forearm; that was easy and quick. The younger one jumped into the chair, and refused to explain what he wanted, despite much coaxing from me and his mother. I suggested a heart, Spiderman, and a rainbow before he declared “Doraemon” throwing me for a tailspin. I didn’t have any idea what this Doraemon looked like, and a quick google search yielded a character of 4 colours and a high enough level of complexity for me to be daunted. Despite this, I sat down and determined to give him Doraemon, and worked quickly, mixing colours, breaking down Doraemon into clear shapes, until with a final flourish I was done for the day!

I had a great time, really felt appreciated and wonderful at the end of the event. It was so much fun being part of something bigger and doing something new, and fresh over my weekend. I’m so glad that I ended up choosing to spend my Sunday morning with ConnectFor at Spirit 2016.

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