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December 28, 2002

Nature camp that gave disabled children joy and hope

From: Navakal - 28 Dec 2002

Mongpong (West Bengal), Dec 28 (ANI):

Hundreds of disabled children from across India converged in remote Mongpong town near the hill resort of Darjeeling early this week for a unique nature camp.

Organised by a local NGO, Himalyayan Nature and Adventure Foundation in Siliguri, the camp offered a number of especially designed adventure activities which cater to the needs of the physically and mentally challenged.

The idea behind the camp was to instill a sense of achievement in these young people, most of whom often remain bundled indoors because of their disabilities.

Animesh Basu, chief coordinator of the camp, said the camp has given these children a rare opportunity to get in touch with nature.

"People organise camps for normal children but few have done such things for the disabled. So we organised an integrated camp for the disabled. Its for everybody, the visually impaired, deaf and dumb, people with cerebral palsy. We have even included some orphan boys and girls. You see these people have little or no scope to get in touch with nature. They are getting it all here," he said.

And for the children who have come from places as distant as Varanasi and even Bangladesh, the opportunity to climb ropes, go trekking and learn about a 100 different types of butterflies, has been truly exhilarating.

The children here lived like a team taking care of each and every detail from setting up tents to cooking food and even taking the daily roll call.

All of this gave a tremendous boost to their confidence.

"Here I met other young people like me. I learned how we can live together and encourage each other. And of course I learned about mountains too," said Sandeep Pandey.

A trainee from Bangladesh, Yogen Pal, who came to the camp with his family said, "After joining this camp I have realised that in spite of being handicapped one can do everything and face all challenges".

Almost 62 trainees from various organisations and states have gathered here, to familiarise themselves with the flora and fauna of the sub-Himalayan ranges of West Bengal. The camp which commenced on the 18 of December and will continue till tomorrow (29 December).

Though there was no dearth of spirit and involvement in the camp, organisers maintained that there was no encouragement either from the Central government or sports bodies for such events.

Government estimates say about six percent of the countrys more than a billion population are disabled.ANI)

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