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A profound experience in Geneva's music festival

My experience volunteering at a little stall for Taaro ke Bacche (Enfants des Etoiles) school providing holistic care for children with special needs

Image: A glimpse from the day of Fete de la Musique

On most weekends, I sleep. I sleep a lot.

This weekend was different. I knew there was an annual music festival going on in Geneva, and it would be a crime to miss it since it only happens once a year and what would I share when I'm asked by my colleagues on Monday, how was my weekend? A few days before the music festival I had found out from Indian Association Geneva about a call for volunteers to help at a stall. The stall was organised by Taaro ke Bacche (Enfants des Etoiles / Children of the Stars) school, where all the funds would go towards this non-profit organisation based in Varanasi, India, providing holistic care for children with autism and Down's syndrome. And the stall was preparing one of my favourite cuisines, south Indian food — dosa and idli. Perhaps the stars aligned for the children of the stars that I decided to volunteer.

As I arrived at the Fete de la Musique on a bright, sunny afternoon, I could feel the summer energy. I was lost for a minute with a map on my phone trying to look for stall 13 as I saw lots of other stalls as I walked by. The stall happened to be at the perfect spot right in front of a music stage with many performances every hour. A great view of the stage definitely helped. But what stood out to me in this music festival were the people I worked with at the stall serving food and drinks, and one man from the queue who helped us a lot in his own little way. While volunteers at the stall were occupied running the kitchen and taking orders, we missed to seeing one of the pictures showing the food items and prices came off due to the strong wind and was hanging upside down. Some people pointed it out before but we couldn't fix it yet until a man from the queue offered to help. He got up on the counter and fixed it for us with a tape. It took a few seconds but made such a difference as it was important to have that little poster so people could see the image of the food item to order. While the man from the queue, may have never visited the school, in his own little way he helped the children of the school.

There is something beautiful about everyone working towards a common cause or a mission. At CERN, I feel the same way with countries from across the world coming together in pursuit of science and fundamental research to know more about our universe and human existence.

I saw volunteers who worked shifts before me on Friday and early morning from Saturday. They were happy to see me when I offered to help. What started as a relaxing afternoon, soon became a happening evening met with lots of lovely visitors intrigued to try dosa, idli, raclette, mango lassi and other drinks – all of which our stall provided. I soon realised I had never done this before working behind the counter, and the crowd was mostly French speaking. We had various members doing each role but it was helpful to also provide help in a variety of roles including the counter taking orders so previous volunteers could rest. So I put my inhibitions aside, opened my translator app to learn some basic phrases and took orders in French and English. It was really exciting to see everyone do their best and bringing good food for a great cause to the people of Geneva attending the music festival. We soon began to have multiple queues for food and drinks from both sides of the stall — very efficient.

My friends and colleagues dropped by to also visit the stall and get drinks, which was very sweet. Here is a little glimpse of my friends, and on the side, you can see a demonstration of my failed attempts to pour a beer correctly.

I met Marie-Françoise Bisson, a former teacher and child psychologist with the Geneva Department of Education, and the founder of Taaro ke Bacche (Enfants des Etoiles / Children of the Stars) school in India. Her smile and positivity were very motivating. I could only imagine what an experience it would be to visit the school in Varanasi, known to be the oldest city in the world!

At the end of a long but satisfying day, I went back home with great joy and a gift given by the school.

It is moments like these days that make me see the value of an individual effort. As Rumi says, you are not just a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.


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