Beyond Money
Children Toy Foundation helps to spread joy—and teaches children, through fun & games

In a world starved for joy, compassion and love, here’s an entity that helps children to learn, expand their horizons and enhance their creativity—through fun, not by instruction 

Many years ago, as a child, Devendra Desai wanted to play a game of chess with his mother, but she was busy preparing his lunch. But finally, she gave into her child's demand. Devendra's mother abandoned her daily chore and got a chessboard for her little wonder.

The child was thrilled—and enjoyed playing the game. This incident remained in Devendra's mind. Over the years, he started thinking of children who don't get to play. Then came a day when Devendra got the opportunity to play with a couple of kids near his Fort (south Mumbai) office. Subsequently, he made it a point to play with his neighbourhood kids. Such was the joy he received, that he established the Children Toy Foundation (CTF) in Mumbai.

CTF got its first funding from ICICI in 1982. Today the foundation has centres in Mumbai, Baroda and Allahabad. Devendra is now 63 years young—and still enjoys playing with his children.

And CTF now speaks the language of fun—a language every child understands. It delights kids with its toy vans donated by corporates, who have incorporated this activity as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (SCR) initiatives. L&T has its Nanha Munna Express, Vibha Inc (a US-based company) has its Laugh Van and Godrej has provided its Good Time Bus. These toy vans are now the face of CTF; they visit 33 BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) schools every month.

CTF also has its Khel Vigyan project, its motto is "Play together, stay together". The foundation has established a static library in City of Los Angeles Municipal School in Matunga (central Mumbai) where teachers play with children—from tiny tots to those in the seventh standard. From Rajawadi Municipal School (Ghatkopar, Mumbai) to DN Nagar Municipal School (at Andheri, another Mumbai suburb), these buses are the face of CTF.

Devendra has chosen not to marry—he considers the toy library his wife, the toys are his daughters and the games are his sons. His satisfaction comes from seeing his 'children' playing with other kids.

CTF works like a normal 'fun' school. A schedule is prepared every month. For example, during the monsoon, children are taught poems mirroring the mood of the season—during festivals, stories are recounted of the significance behind these occasions.

On a daily basis, five teachers visit a BMC school and conduct five sessions of one hour each. These one-hour sessions are divided into three parts of 20 minutes each—indoor games, outdoor games and other activities that include drama enactments, storytelling, craftwork, painting and puppet shows.

Kids play, learn and have fun during this hour. Five groups of ten kids are formed and they are supervised by the teachers. These teachers perform dramas and puppet shows and then children from each group come forth and present the same. Songs from popular cinema are a big hit—and a regular event in every session. The games that are taught range from puzzles, board games, educative games, memory tests and IQ-improvement games-all these help children to develop analytical thinking.

Vandana Sonawane, co-ordinator, CTF, told Moneylife, "We believe in education through games. These activities help in developing and enhancing their creativity as well as improving their concentration." These games not only amuse children but also stimulate spontaneous thinking—as a result kids boldly ask questions and put forward their views.  

To educate pre-teen girls, CTF also conducts sessions to educate them on life after adolescence. Since the school at Matunga doesn't have a drawing teacher, CTF conducts regular drawing classes for kids.

Since inception, funding has been a major problem for CTF as convincing corporates about their cause is difficult. With increasing diesel prices, it has become difficult to run these toy vans. Ms Sonawane told Moneylife, "Parking (issues) and getting permission from the RTO (Regional Transport Authority) for clearing these buses are the regular problems. With the Aadhaar centres (where people are being issued the Unique Identity Numbers) in BMC schools, often, we don't have rooms available to conduct sessions."

The real joy that CTF derives is watching kids turn their ideas into reality. Every month competitions are arranged for children where they get to voice their thoughts. Recently, CTF arranged a drawing competition for kids in kindergarten, in an attempt to test the awareness of these children. They were asked to draw the aftermath of the recent Mumbai blasts. A number of them displayed their imagination about the tragic incident-this indicates how city life has seared into their consciousnesses.

CTF has committed teachers who have been working for the foundation for over a decade. These senior teachers train the new teachers, volunteers and interns every second and fourth Saturday. After school hours, these senior teachers train their staff by playing games. Since most of the kids belong to the lower socio-economic background-and many children being reared by a single parent, CTF teachers regularly update themselves on issues and explain them to kids. The foundation's collection of over 70 indoor games and books of a wide variety allows these kids to remain happy... everyday. Ms Sonawane says, "We allow kids to carry books home by telling them that these are your books and you have to take care of them."

CTF participates in the Mumbai Marathon and the Joy of Giving (JOG) week every year. During the JOG week, it organises competitions, and corporates are invited to collect donations. The material made by the kids is also exhibited at these events.

People donate games, story books and stationery for kids-or sometimes simply come to play with them. With its belief that everyone including kids, parents and grandparents should play with children; CTF makes everyone to play for an hour before accepting any donations. Ms Sonawane said: "I get to play with the kids daily-this is my biggest joy."




5 years ago

Hope they are taking care of the disinfecting and hygiene before the toys are shared. Else this will be a health hazard!

Chandolia seeks to drag Radia, corporate leaders in 2G case

The counsel for Mr Chandolia told a special CBI judge OP Saini that Aseervatham Achary, an alleged associate of Mr Raja, had allegedly conspired to bring Kalaignar TV on a Tata Sky DTH bouquet by acting as a conduit between Mr Raja and Ms Radia

New Delhi: RK Chandolia, former aide of ex-telecom minister A Raja, today sought implication of corporate leaders and lobbyist Niira Radia in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case as accused, saying they had participated in the alleged ‘covert deal’ between the Tata group and Kalaignar TV, reports PTI.

The counsel for Mr Chandolia told a special CBI judge OP Saini that Aseervatham Achary, an alleged associate of Mr Raja, had allegedly conspired to bring Kalaignar TV on a Tata Sky DTH bouquet by acting as a conduit between Mr Raja and Ms Radia.

“During the conversation when Niira Radia referred to the deal, no where does Mr Achary ask her what was she talking about. This shows that he (Mr Achary) was well aware of the deal between Kalaignar TV and Tata being pursued by Mr Raja.

“Going by this, Mr Tata, Ms Radia, Mr Achary and Kalaignar TV all should be made accused in the case. Mr Tata and Ms Radia are big people and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cannot touch them but why not Mr Achary,” advocate Vijay Agarwal appearing for Mr Chandolia said.

Mr Chandolia alleged they had allegedly conspired to bring Kalaignar TV on a Tata Sky bouquet.

Seeking discharge from the case, Mr Chandolia said no criminality can be attributed to him as he was merely executing the diktats of his ‘master’ A Raja.

He said Mr Achary has been closely associated with Mr Raja for the past 12 years.

“Deals are being struck between Ms Radia and Mr Tata through Mr Achary who is a conduit... Why are they not in jail when I am in jail even when I have no involvement in the matter?” he asked.


SEBI announces guidelines for infrastructure debt funds

Mutual funds can floats infra schemes with five years maturity or lock-in of five years. Strategic investor must make firm commitment of Rs25 crore. Units to be listed

Mumbai: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has issued guidelines for infrastructure debt funds (IDF) which can be set up by any existing mutual fund or company that has been engaged in financing the sector for five years.

Now mutual funds can float an 'infrastructure debt fund' as a close-ended scheme maturing after five years, or an interval scheme with a lock-in of five years, SEBI chairman UK Sinha said, after a board meeting last evening.

The IDF would invest 90% of its assets in debt securities of infrastructure companies. The minimum investment in an IDF would be Rs1 crore and the minimum size of the unit would be R10 lakh, PTI reports.

The IDF, which was proposed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Union Budget for FY12, is aimed at accelerating and enhancing the flow of long-term debt for funding ambitious plans for infrastructure development in the country.

The requirement of infrastructure in the 12th Plan has been pegged at $1 trillion.

As per government norms, an IDF may be set up either as a trust or company. While the trust-based IDF (mutual fund) would be regulated by SEBI, an IDF set up as a company (NBFC) would be regulated by the Reserve Bank of India.

While announcing the guidelines for IDFs floated by MFs, SEBI said, the strategic investor would have to make a firm commitment of Rs25 crore. The units of infrastructure debt fund schemes shall be listed on the stock exchange.

An infrastructure debt fund shall have a minimum of five investors and no single investor shall hold more than 50% of net assets of the scheme.

MFs may also disclose the indicative portfolio of the infrastructure debt fund scheme to its potential investors, detailing the type of assets the mutual fund will invest in.


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