Published: 09th June 2021
These Chennai students are helping bring a smile to the faces of healthcare workers amid COVID. Here's how
Vedika Agarwal and her friends started Project Joy to send handmade gratitude cards to healthcare workers in Chennai in the hope to spread some smiles
There's no denying that the pandemic has been hard on everyone. But the ones who are bearing the brunt of it are the frontline workers, especially those working in hospitals — from doctors and nurses to hospital staff, ambulance drivers and even hospital security. They have been undergoing this harrowing experience for the better part of a year and the end still seems distant. Amid this stress and uncertainty, a few school students from Chennai decided to spread some joy. They send handmade gratitude cards to doctors and other hospital staff, hoping to put a smile on their faces amid the overwhelming gloom. Started by NGO Yein Udaan's Vedika Agarwal, Project Joy is now being led by two students — Amaira Goyal and Parthivi Mohunta of Sishya School, Adyar.
The initiative began just three weeks ago when Vedika decided to involve children in COVID relief efforts. "We realised that children were largely being left out from relief efforts because we obviously want to shield them from the trauma. But a lot of them actually want to do something in their own way to help out. We are aware of the distress and trauma that the healthcare workers are undergoing right now, so we thought we could involve children in spreading a few smiles," says Vedika.
While Vedika initiated the idea, it was art teacher Madhulika Anandakumar who helped hone the project. According to Vedika, Madhulika created an art module that the children follow while they paint the gratitude cards. "We were very particular to ensure that the paintings are not just of medical instruments and motifs dedicated only to doctors. The cards are for everyone working at the hospital and they have to be positive but generic and inclusive too," says Amaira, to which Vedika adds, "Every week, we have a live few art sessions online to help the students decide what to paint. Madhulika explains the module to the children, who are aged between 7 and 18. In case they are unable to attend the meeting, they can download the module online through a Google Drive link."
Once the students have finished their cards — with a painting and a message — they can either drop them off at various locations spread across Chennai or email a scanned copy of the cards. "The cards are then picked up and sent to various hospitals. We needed permission from hospitals and till now, we have distributed these cards to Apollo Hospitals, Lifeline Hospitals, Omandurar Medical College and even to a few COVID Care Centres set up by the Tamil Nadu government," says Vedika.
In the last three weeks, over 200 children from across Chennai have taken part in Project Joy and over 250 cards have been distributed across these hospitals. Vedika says that the overwhelming response has prompted them to open the doors for adults too. "So many parents were also interested in the project and they wanted to contribute too. We have also had some women's clubs coming forward with their contributions," says Vedika. What started as a project by the children has now turned into a citizen's movement, says Vedika. Project Joy has also spread to Hyderabad and Tirunelveli.