In the shade of the warm sun and under a spreading tree we sit with three groups of enthusiastic children, forty or more, eager to begin the craft activities which on this occasion is Pompom making….an unusual activity in such heat, you might think (my own childhood memory is of a ’round the fire’ winter activity). Wool seems such a strange material to be working with in the tremendous heat!
The templates are already made and balls of brightly coloured wool cascade from poly bags into a glorious pool of colour on the dusty ground: mauve, fluorescent green, fuchsia pinks….colours reflected in the vibrant Indian culture around us.
The wool balls are distributed to the enthusiastic children crowding round us and the leaders give a careful demonstration (including “one I prepared earlier” to the attentive children).
The demonstration is one any self-respecting Blue Peter presenter would feel rightly proud of. Keen anticipation is followed by quick learning and a prolonged period of quiet concentration by a frantic Pompom race to be the first finished.
In all too short a time a sudden bottleneck of excited children elbow for their turn to have their special Pompom bud cut open, allowing it to burst unexpectedly into a colourful flower right before their eyes… it is magical.
In the chaotic excitement of the bunch of blossoming Pompoms I notice, sitting at the back of the group and still engrossed in the activity, one small boy apparently having difficulty. With restricted movement in his hands, he appears unable to keep up with the others and his Pom Pom is small and hardly formed. I stay with him into break time and together we finish his so he is just like all the others and he leaves happily swinging the coloured ball in the air.
Over break time I speak to another volunteer who was also working with the group and I find out that it is not that he was slow in finishing his first Pompom – it was his second ball . He had been spotted generously handing his first one over the school wall to a passing child. So it is not just the school pupils who benefitted from the craft. He certainly was crafty….and kind!
The Pompom making is repeated in the afternoon with another group of equally enthusiastic children and at one point I notice the PE teacher concentrating carefully while making his own.
This was one activity in particular that everyone seemed to enjoy and all had something bright and attractive to show for their hard work.