It was a regular monsoon day here in NCR and I had just taken an Uber to take me from Noida to Faridabad. I had barely left my sector when it started raining rather heavily. We all know what happens when it rains in the NCR - sheer madness. I had an option - to turn around and go back home. However, I was too excited to see the destination to make this choice. I was headed to the SOS Village that is located in the lap of Aravallis on the Surajkund-Bundelkhand road. For several years now, I have always wanted to visit the establishment and wasn't going to stop now when I had an opportunity and a good enough reason - Kick-off of Canon's new CSR initiative.
Canon recently announced "Support a Life" campaign through which it takes a leap from "Each one teach one" to the concept of each employee personally getting involved in the growth and development of at least one child. Mr. Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India Pvt. Ltd., was going to be there in person to launch the campaign and to celebrate the Indian Independence Day with the children of the village. A painting competition had already been held in the school prior to the event and the agenda included the prize distribution for the painting competition, a cricket match between the children of SOS village and the cricket team of Canon. It was bound to be an interesting event and I wanted to be there. After navigating several water-logged road for close to two hours, I managed to somehow reach there just in time.
The first sight that welcomed me was the beautiful setting of the village. Not only is it surrounded by the Aravalli hills, the monsoon had made it sparkling green. There were lots of trees in the premises and it truly looked like a new-age village flowing with all the goodness that comes from being close to nature and being away from pollution and the incessant noise of the city.
Because of the rains, a waterproof canopy had been set up for the event and the paintings that the children had made for the competition were on display right at the entrance. I was amazed to see the sheer talent and sensitivity that children are capable of demonstrating at such a tender age. One could see that they were aware of the way we humans have trampled all over nature. One could feel their concern for these issues radiating from their paintings. I stood there looking at the paintings for some time while all this while these little kids kept chirping, laughing, giggling, playing pranks in the background. It was difficult to believe that these very seemingly carefree little pranksters were the ones who had come up with the evocative paintings on display.
I headed towards the stage and soon a young 15-or 16 year old girl stepped on to the stage and started the ceremony with a confidence that is rarely seen in children so young. Introducing the various dignitaries, she first invited Ms. Anuja Bansal, Secretary General, SOS Children's Villages India, to address the audience. Speaking to a group that comprised of the top dignitaries from Canon, the adults and children who are a part of the SOS Village family, and the media, she shared "At the SOS Children's Villages, our focus is on bringing up children in a secure and healthy home. Since last five decades, our organization is focusing on the holistic development of young lives by prividing them the love and care of a "Mother" and a family of brothers and sisters. Partnership with like-minded institutes like Canon provides us further encouragement to continue towards our goal with more vigour and commitment. Their support will help put smiles on the faces of the children in our villages and add value to their growth and development." Her words triggered a loud round of applause from the audience.
Next Mr. Kazutada Kobayashi, President and CEO, Canon India, was invited to the stage to share his vision. Speaking about the latest development and significant expansion of Canon's CSR ambit, Kobayashi-san said, "At Canon, we are deeply involved in meaningful, welfare-driven initiatives that impact lives and make people future ready. And what better way to prepare for our future than to invest in our children - the building blocks of the nation. This partnership with SOS Children's village has given the Canon family a way to express our dedication towards the upbringing of children of the country. Canon has been devoted towards the causes of education, eye care and environment and now we are proud to be expanding our social trajectory with empowerment of children and youth in the country through our most recent initiatives." Further, he added that Canon's idea of CSR was not only about providing funds, but also through human involvement and they have been actively encouraging their employees to get involved with the children and help in their holistic development. At the event, Canon also introduced vocational and skill development training in its adopted villages.
The cricket match that was planned unfortunately had to be cancelled because of the incessant rains. The short and crisp event concluded with Mr Kobayashi presenting awards to the children who had won the painting competition and also to the members of SOS Village cricket team. It was lovely to see the smiling faces of the children as they stepped on to the stage to accept their prizes.