Children’s Treat: The beginning

Children's-Treat-2019-girl-on-merrygoround

One of the most iconic and probably the longest lasting Rotary project in the world is Children’s Treat that the Rotary Club of Calcutta, RID 3291,  has been doing for 95 years.

PP Ritwik Gupta, who has been deeply engaged in bringing out an updated version of the club’s history, talks with passion about this signature project of his club, which was what got him into Rotary in the first place; he joined the club in 1987.

Children’s Treat started in 1925 and we just had the 95th session of the project earlier in December.
Ritwik Gupta, Past president of RC Calcutta

Over a steaming cup of chai on a freezing New Year’s eve, as his club turns 100, Gupta says: “My father was a Rotarian and a member of RC ­Calcutta and it was from his office that a lot of work on the Children’s Treat project was being done. The person there with him was about my age; I told him you are doing this wonderful thing, why can’t I be a part of it? And he said, join us! So I told my dad I want to join your club. He talked to a Rotarian and that man took me under his wing from Day 1”

The chance to “serve, right from Day 1, keeps you inspired,” he says, adding casually: “By the way, ­Children’s Treat started in 1925 — RC Calcutta was formed in 1920 — and we just had the 95th session of the project earlier in December. Only during World War II, when there was a blackout, one session was missed.”

Children's-Treat-2019(rope

It all began, when on a Christmas day in 1925, says PP Ritwik Gupta, a few Rotarians from their club noticed some poor children begging on the streets and thought we have to do something about this. “Within a few days, they got together some children, don’t ask me from where, and gave them a day of sunshine, and we’ve never stopped doing that!” Thus began the club’s signature project Children’s Treat.

So during the Christmas season every year, members of RC Calcutta organise the pick-up of children from orphanages, non-formal schools, slum schools, put them in 25-odd buses and take them to the famous Nicco Park in Kolkata for a day of fun, food and laughter.

So how many children are treated thus?

Fresh lunch being served to children by Rotarians of RC Calcutta.
Fresh lunch being served to children by Rotarians of RC Calcutta.

“Anywhere between 1,200 to 2,000…. We’d love to do 5,000, but it is physically not possible.” The treat begins on the bus itself where the children are given a banana, eggs, bread and juice. “We give them gifts such as a badminton racquet, a bag, T-shirt, and tickets for rides in the game park. They have fun through the morning and then come back to a designated place at lunch time,” says Gupta.

The food is prepared by cooks hired by the club inside the kitchen in the Nicco Park that is allotted to the club and typically comprises rice, pooris, sabzi and a dhal. Adds Amit Ghosh, a club member, “This year, there were 1,500 children and 300 of them were from our own Nitish Chandra Laharry Cultural Training Centre in Rotary Sadan and 350 from our RCC school, and others were from schools and orphanages in the suburbs of Kolkata.”

Apart from the vegetarian food, a single Rotarian sponsors a chicken dish for the kids.

Children's-Treat-2015boat-ride

About 70 Rotarians and their Anns, along with many Rotaractors, are involved in this project and they serve food to the children, and eat only after every child has finished his/her lunch. “After lunch there is a magic show, a band playing, and at the end of that programme we send the children off with an ice cream and gifts,” says Gupta.

He adds, “Each year, the schools decide who will go because all the children look forward to this fun event. When we send the bus, those not able to go that year, send off the others waving and saying go and enjoy yourselves!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shares
Message Us