It was the school holidays and for the 13 children staying at the home this break, a treat was in store for them, writes Kwan, a volunteer from Singapore. At 11pm on 28 December, a van arrived picking up the children who were all dressed to their best for a trip to the waterfalls at Kutralam. Rishwana, a former resident here who returned to teach the children dance for a christmas performance, organised this trip for the 13 children who thought they would otherwise be having a quiet break at the home. Also accompanying the children on this trip was Rishwana’s husband and two friends, three staff from the home and a volunteer.
What do 21 persons in a packed van do on a three hour road journey? The children had it all figured out as they put their favourite beats to blast on the van’s radio and whistled and twirled to the music. At 2am, the van drew up to a cottage. By now the children who started off full of energy were nodding off. Boys and girls each had a spacious room to rest in and they were fast asleep in no time.
5am: The children were awakened and packed into the van. What could be the reason for waking up at this odd hour?
Drawing to a stop, the children got out of the van. They stood before towering waterfalls lit by street lights, their first view of the waterfalls of Kutralam. Already other bathers had arrived before them. The children huddled together in the cool mist thrown up by the pounding water and the morning air. One after another the children plucked up their courage, entered the waterfall and screamed as they felt the cold water on their skin, then began shouting in excitement as the initial shock of the cold passed and next came the thrill of being splashed with cold water that was clean and fresh.
7am: Cold and wet but in high spirits, the children wiped themselves dry and headed back to the van, proceeded to visit two other waterfalls before heading back to the cottage for lunch. For some of the children it was their first time seeing a waterfall!
After lunch, TV, and a nap, the children, refreshed visited the last waterfall of the day. Getting there was an adventure in itself, crossing streams and hiking for a good half hour. The children stopped before a shallow stream; Little Dhana was afraid of stepping into the water and was carried over by one of the older boys.
This waterfall hidden away in the forest was just right for all the children to splash around in! Splashing each other, standing in the waterfall, and relaxing in the cool water was enjoyed by all. When the children had played and laughed to their hearts’ content, now tired but exhilarated, they trekked back the way they had come and started on the long journey back home. The memory of Kutralam will remain with the children for a long time.