While several city college goers might have spent the Christmas weekend and holidays mixing drinks, Aishwarya Menon, 19, and a group of her KC College friends spent the time mixing cement.
The group was building a series of toilets for the residents of Saphale village in Palghar taluka, as part of their residential camp project with the college’s National Service Scheme (NSS) unit.
As the city brought in the New Year this weekend, 8,000 students from city colleges threw themselves into a slew of community projects and social service activities. “Most other students were relaxing or partying during the holidays but for me there is something attractive about the NSS camps, that I keep returning to participate in these activities,” said Menon.
KC College students also helped conduct eye check-up camps and level the playground at the main school in the village.
All these activities are a part of the Mumbai University’s National Social Service (NSS) camps, held annually in various neighbouring areas outside the city. The programme has been running since 1998. Last year, from Mumbai, Raigad, Thane and Sindhudurg, 8,000 students participated in the winter vacation camps, this year that number has swelled to 10,000.
Colleges can choose the projects they would like to concentrate on. Acharya College in Chembur for instance, has chosen to focus on the issue of female foeticide and will be addressing villagers outside Kalyan on the issue.
The group will be conducting street plays, signature campaigns and an anti-plastics drive during the course of their residential camp.
Elsewhere, students of Sathaye College in Vile Parle will be tending to leprosy patients and planting trees in Walvi village near Vasai. “It’s been an awesome experience participating in these activities,” said Sunil Gupta, 21, a volunteer.
Every college adopts one area and helps with community projects therein. The activities culminate with the December winter camps. “Instead of enjoyment through partying, this is a different kind of enjoyment for these students,” said Atul Salunkhe, programme coordinator of NSS for Mumbai University. “Instead of spending time with the same group of friends, students get to interact with others and broaden their horizons.”