It's Fancy Dress Day at Achiever Academy! Colorful tents have been erected as protection from the blazing hot sun and as Justin (Achiever Academy driver, watchman, handyman, and our dear friend) puts the final touches on the mike and sound system, Jim Sir finds it hard not to boogie in time to the raucous music. No, sadly, I did not get my camera focused quickly enough to catch those moves.
One of the things that sets Achiever Academy apart from any other school in most of India is that it focuses on the whole child, encouraging, enabling, and empowering values, talents, skills, strengths, interests, and personal growth in all intelligences for the total child. What may look like a beauty pageant or costume party to the outside observer is really an exercise in creativity, self-confidence, poise, and authentic learning – all rolled into one fun event. Excited parents and children arrive early, chattering in nervous anticipation of the opportunity to shine. Each grade (“standard” in Indian culture) is assigned a different theme, such as flowers, animals, cartoon characters, international
This year, one parent used this event and their daughter's costume to take a moral stand against feticide, the destruction and/or abortion of female fetuses. In this culture where tradition values male children and many female children are valued less than livestock, feticide is a very real concern. In modern India today, pre-natal sonograms are outlawed, so that the gender remains unknown until birth, thereby protecting the unborn child from this abhorrent practice. In such a happy, positive setting as Fancy Dress Competition, the words, “Avoid Female Feticide” and “Save Female Child” painted on the leaves of a 3-year-old little girl's flower costume are a harsh reminder of the evils that await these children outside the protective gates of the loving sanctuary that is Achiever Academy.
Fancy Dress Competition is a great day for children at Achiever Academy, as is every day. It's also a solemn reminder of the importance of a loving, spiritual haven for children here in India. For Jim Sir and Susie Mam, it's a reminder of why we come and why we return.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me and do not hinder them for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”