On Children’s Day, Vodafone gives children the gift of stories

New Delhi: This Children’s Day, kids across schools in India will receive some never before gifts; an old woman who could out-think a tiger, a crow who saves the day and a rabbit who cleverly handles a difficult situation and many more. They will receive the gift of stories from Vodafone.

Stories play an important role in influencing and shaping the country’s future; our children. A childhood without stories is a childhood lost. But the art of storytelling is dying. With nuclear families becoming the norm, grandparents are no longer there to narrate beautiful stories, every night. Children get their stories from television or the internet, which are primarily international stories. Even most books and fairy tales are from foreign lands. But the beautiful Indian folk tales and stories that we grew up on are lost to this generation of kids.

Fortunately, these stories exist. They reside with millions of the elderly in India – with grandparents across the country.

And Vodafone went about unearthing them. Vodafone has always believed in new technologies and digital services playing a positive role in transforming society and enhancing individual quality of life in the years ahead. Since the brand is all about connectivity they decided to find these stories and elderly storytellers and then connect them to a whole generation of kids, who’ve never heard them.

The idea originated from last year’s Vodafone Content Day organised by long term Agency partners Maxus (now Wavemaker) and O&M. #GiftAStory as a shortlisted content piece was envisaged and executed by integrated agency and content expert What’s Your Problem (WYP Brand Solutions Pvt). WYP bought the idea to life after roping in Storywallahs – a company dedicated to reviving the art of storytelling. They also held the auditions at old age homes and housing societies across India to find some of India’s best storytellers who are grandparents and then trained them with the help of Storywallahs to narrate these stories using technology enabled by Vodafone.

The elders and grandparents chosen included Mrs. Rama Khandwala, a 91-year-old Gujarati freedom fighter, who’d been part of Subhash Chandra Bose’s army. Or the retired school teacher, Mrs. Hyacinth D’Souza, an 82-year-old grandmother whose grandkids are in the US. Mrs. D’Souza, now spends all her time crafting puppets for children. It included, Mrs. Delfien, a 73-year-old, old age home resident, who used to run a crèche and loved spending time with kids. Mr. Santanil Ganguly, a 60-year-old dynamic storyteller. Mr. & Mrs. Jayant, a 68-year-old retired school teacher and a 75-year-old retired engineer, respectively. Along with Mrs. Jhelum Paranjape, a 63-year-old Odissi dancer who doesn’t have grandchildren of her own but is the ‘dadi’ to her entire society.

Finally, using Vodafone’s network and the video calling feature, these storytellers were connected live to school children across India. At these events, the selected storytellers regaled school kids with beautiful stories. These events were captured through hidden cameras to create an engaging digital video, which brings alive both the problem and Vodafone’s solution via the auditions, training and finally the live performance through video call. On the occasion of Children’s Day this video was released to activate the movement #GiftAStory. The video ends with an encouragement to ‘gift a story – gift childhood’. What better gift than that?