Creative Thoughts

Creative Thoughts

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The joy of working with children

The Pavement Club

I’ve always loved working with children. It actually started when I was in my late teens and helped as a “study class” assistant in our parish school. Two classrooms were kept open from 6 to 8 pm so children living in cramped homes could study in peace and were also provided help with subjects they found difficult.

And now, almost 40 years later, Monday to Thursday afternoons, I can be found at the Pavement School. I am a volunteer at The Pavement Club & School which is an outreach programme of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Columba, Mumbai. Approximately 200 children come here irrespective of caste, creed or religion.  Most of them are keen to study and are given help to build their sense of self-worth. The Pavement Club gives a street kid an opportunity to study in a safe and peaceful environment, a healthy meal, help with studies, fun & games and most essentially, receive a little love.

Our daughter, Simone, volunteered here in her university days.  Evenings at home, she would talk about her work with compassion and love. 

The Pavement Club was started in 1991 to provide basic education and skills to under-privileged street children.  The head is Mr Lawrence, who has been building wonderful  relationships with the kids, down the years  he  has enriched their lives in many ways.  He has been watching and supporting them as they learn and grow and sometimes shares his experiences and memories with us. Many of these children started coming to the Pavement School when they were 4 and continued till they turned 16 and went to university.

preparing for the next school day

 Mr. Rocky Fernandes supervising play time

 Young volunteers from St. Xavier's College helping with homework
Most of these children stay in makeshift shelters on pavements or in hutments.  They attend local municipal (BMC) schools where the fees are very low. BMC Schools are open in the mornings. After school, they come to the Pavement Club and do their homework from 2 in the afternoon till 4 pm. Then it’s play time in the grounds -  till 4.30 pm when they are served a hot meal which comes from the kitchens of The Times of India, a leading daily.

The older children have special classes in computers, cooking, sewing and a complete course in Madhubani and Warli painting.

Friday is "Open Day".  It's a day for fun and games.  Occasionally magic shows, parties and ice cream treats are organised by corporate houses and others.

2 to 4 pm is when I help with homework or I carry a book from home and read out so they learn just that little bit more about the world outside India. I love seeing how their minds work and how excited they get about learning that there exist people of a different culture in the world outside. Very often I take along an album of photos of any one particular country I've visited and then an animated discussion takes place.
It is wonderful watching and learning the varying ways that children absorb information.

It’s always a joyful experience to share time with them in study and play. The welcoming smiles are a rich reward.

The photos below were taken by the InterContinental Hotel, Mumbai. They had organised lunch and a drawing competition for these street children.

 Grace before meals

 separate line for boys

meal time

The Pavement Club is financed entirely by private donors.  Used clothes and accessories in good condition as also school bags, books and snacks are welcome.  

You can visit the Pavement Club at 


  1. How wonderful this is - to give young people a chance. You are very kind to give your time and talent to something so worthwhile.

    1. Thanks Marie-Louise. I think I benefit more than the children as, at the end of the day, I feel satisfied I've done something worthwhile.

  2. Hello Lena, I trust that U are well!! Such a wonderful gesture - all praise & blessings to all the volunteers. I am also sure that many children will definitely pick up & will show a keen interest in your arts & crafts. Take care !!

  3. Hello Asha ! Thank you ! I just came back from the Pavement Club. Today students from the Chinese International School, Hong Kong visited. They had great fun interacting with the kids. I hope to post some photos soon. There is an artist who comes once a week to teach drawing to the older kids. It's a full 2 year course.

  4. Hi,I really wanna be a part of this.

    1. Shane, that's great ! Please let me know when you would like to volunteer and I will speak to Mr. Lawrence, the man in charge. Timings are 2 to 5 pm Mon. to Fri. but you can leave at 4 pm after the study session.