What and who are Friends of Kera (FoK)? Friends of Kera – their aim is to help the disabled children in Gujarat and to enhance their standard of living, as well as entertain them for days filled with fun and games.

Friends of Kera are now in their10th year and continue to be helpful to the less abled with blessings and continued support from their well-wishers.fok01

Last year, again on 23rd December 2012, the annual sports event was held in Kera cricket ground. The weather in Kutch has never let us down and though the morning air had a slight chill, we knew the day would soon be warmed with the laughter and smiles of many kids. It seems that popularity of this event has spread and this year saw the highest turnout of nearly 1,300 participants. There was pretty much last minute addition of about 300 participants but the FoK team and volunteers managed to get all the logistics in place to cater for this increase.

The sports day went very smoothly like a well-oiled machine. The dedication of the volunteers and many others made this all possible. Of course, without the donations from our well-wishers, none of this would be possible at all. Wheel chairs were donated again on this day and the end of the day everyone still had the energy to dance their hearts out. Finally, time came to say good bye and promise to be back next year. All were sent with home with food bags for their journey home. Some came from as far as couple of hundred kilometres away, but they know that this is a day that will linger in their memories for a long time and promise they will return again next year. It is such promises that pushes FoK members forward every year and ensure that such events take place. Some of us have had the privilege to be there for this event and let me tell you, that it is a wonderful feeling to see beaming smiles all day long.

During this time, FoK team visited some centres which serve the less abled. FoK would like to help them all as much as they can. However, this time, FoK identified two such organizations that they pledged to support. The committee approved donation of Rs 1 Lakh to each of these two organizations namely the Kutch Vikas Trust and Dhanvantri School. These two organizations have very young children to children in teens. Some have spent all their childhood here and have been well looked after by some real dedicated people making them ready, in some cases, with skills so they can financially survive in the real world.

Navchetan Andhjan Mandal is another trust which has supported FoK wholeheartedly over the years without whose assistance; it would not be possible to arrange this event. This year, FoK sent them funds to support them to take the children on well-deserved planned trip in Kutch.

The FoK team realise the importance of such and ensure that they are in a position to help and support many more such organizations. So FoK team come up with novel ideas every year to create money raising events. It seems that the team is addicted to doing things at high altitude. After their tremendous success of conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011, the team did a sky diving event in 2012. We had about 24 willing jumpers from ages of 17 years to just over 50 years. Though not all were able to jump on the nominated day due to adverse weather, everyone eventually managed to complete the dive in their own time.

The disabled children in Gujarat require special help, since majority of their parents are helpless, and cannot afford wheel chairs and education for their children. These children cannot go to school because of their disability. The team also visited a village where they identified that one child needed a “special” wheelchair so her parents could take her out. The team agreed to provide such a chair and now this child can finally be taken out by her parents.

Over the years, Friends of Kera have donated more than hundred wheel chairs to the disabled children. The volunteers visit different villages to identify the disabled children who need our help. Many of the volunteers of this event reside in the UK but make time to travel to India for this yearly event.

FoK also took the opportunity to visit MMPJ Hospital and it was pride and satisfaction to see that the dialysis machine donated last year was in full use round the clock. If we have to climb mountains like Kilimanjaro to make this possible, then so be it. It is such that make it all worth the while.

In the past, many of our volunteers have run marathons, organise sport events and social events in order to raise funds for these projects.

We are grateful to all our donors which make our work for the disabled children possible. Over the years, we have had donors from our UK friends and local people in our 24 gaams, our heartiest thanks them for their generosity and understanding our vision for the need of these disabled children.

By Prakash Nardani – Kera Gaam