Forty nine years ago, Mobile Creches took its first steps at Rajghat, where the Gandhi Centenary Exhibition Pavilion was under construction. The children at the construction site were unsafe and neglected, deprived of the nurture, care and protection that their tender age demanded. Observing this, on 12th March 1969, Meera Mahadevan decided to act.
Meera Mahadevan, joined soon after by Devika Singh, confronted the contractor with the plight of the children and made sure that a shelter was opened on the site, with a dedicated person to keep watch over the children. This was the first Mobile Creche. Thus began a journey of entering worksites, negotiating with contractors and building trust with worker parents to reach the children.
On the eve of our 50th year, we kicked off a year-long celebration of our incredible journey, at the very venue where it all began – Rajghat. March 11, 2018 saw a grand gathering at our 49th anniversary, which brought together MC’s friends and supporters – from past and present, young and old – all under one roof at the Satyagraha Mandap, Gandhi Darshan, Rajghat.
The event captured some very special moments for us, of reflection, joy and inspiration to carry on our work for children.
Mobile Creches’ Executive Director Sumitra Mishra addressed the gathering with a very warm welcome. “Today we stand at the cusp of the next 50 years of our children’s world. What does this world look like 50 years from now? The strength of Mobile Creches lies in its agility to respond to this new world. [To] change for a safe, caring and a just world for all the children through creches and daycare centres for every child, especially the most invisible child. At the heart of this changing, moving, dynamic process lies the best interests of the child," she said.
Devika Singh, the co-founder of Mobile Creches, reminisced about the early days of MC, how it all began – simple, honest, with no grand design but a fire in the belly for justice and dignity for our children – and the various challenges faced by the first band of courageous and committed workers. "Seeing the first creche in 1969, I realised that this dream [of India’s progress] in reality, the root, the form, is this - happy children, safe children, with learning opportunities, in a loving and caring environment,” she said.
This was followed by an audio-visual presentation by Radha Pandey, Deputy Manager, that captured the MC journey so far – sights and sounds, actors and factors, old friends lost and new friends made. The emotions and a common sense of purpose felt across the room were palpable.
We moved towards a supremely entertaining and thought-provoking performance of Dastangoi (13th century Urdu oral storytelling art form) by the talented Ankit Chadha. The performance titled ‘Dastan-e-Khanabadosh’ was a story around the nomadic pastoralists and their interaction with the settled world, following the trails and trials of a neglected people, a forgotten way of life. It was a mesmerizing performance by Ankit Chadha that touched many chords with the audience.
After a sumptuous lunch, Arjun and his band members got everyone off their seats and on their feet, with some sizzling, popular songs from the 70s. The hard-working team at MC let their hair down and had a great time – and what a touching moment it was to see the entire staff dancing together!
The highly-charged event finally ended with our most important ceremony – where we acknowledged our star creche workers, who have set high standards of creche management and childcare services. The awards were given to the best run creches and captured moments of great pride and achievement.
Watch this space for more news in the days to come – on the 50th year events and other programmes. And do follow us on our Social media pages for exciting updates, photographs and videos.