Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Make a Difference

Local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai, where we come across different types of people. My experience though is confined to the ladies compartment both first and second class. It was during one of my journey's some years ago that I saw a group of ladies forcing a young kid selling notebooks to get off the compartment as it was the first class. It made me question what was the child's fault?  why the second hand citizen treatment?

Good evening Toastmaster of the day and fellow Toastmasters.

Has it ever happened to you like it did to me that a particular incident shook you to the core? Blurring the lines between black and white, making you question people. How do they help in the progress of their society? That giving charity to the underprivileged is not the only thing they need, that there is more.

Let me share with you all a story that is very close to my heart. I graduated in the summer of 2013, though I felt elated and free there was a void in me. A void no matter what I did, didn't disappear. It left me pondering; I had everything for comfort a roof over my head, meals three times a day, education and my family but what about those others who struggled day in and out. I was bursting with energy I wanted to give back to society, to the people who help in making our lives comfortable on the expense of theirs. I had heard donating money is the best help you can give to people.

However, I wanted to do something that was more than momentary, something they  could use. And the opportunity presented itself. I was recruited in an NGO called MAD, Make a Difference as a teaching volunteer. Every Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. starting from the month of August I began visiting my assigned shelter home St. Francis Orphanage in Borivali. It was no cake walk, it should be shouldn't it after all, all I taught those kids was English for two hours at the most. It wasn't the teaching nor the commitment that was tough it was the connection, the social gap that was there. Each Sunday was a revelation.

I was assigned four 8th std kids and one of the biggest hurdles I had was connecting with those teenage boys. At first it was difficult they were too mischievous and troublesome for my handling especially those initial days when I had no buddy. Half the time it was like police and robbers game where I was the one chasing them to sit in one place and eventually at the end I was the one left tired and they laughing at me. I used to get irked easily those days but later on I realised this was the only time they could laugh and enjoy. With the passing of time we grew closer though not as much as I would have liked as they were with my buddy Omkar. He was the cool teacher and I was the one they turned to when they were down or too energetic.

There were moments of intense joy and downright sadness with all those emotions that were directly linked to what happened with them over the week. And eventually the year came to end.

I had gone there to teach to make these kids a part of the global nation but it was I who ended up learning. I taught them English they taught me the language of emotions, of understanding, of true joy, contentment and hope. They do not crave charity a hundred or so odd others give them that, what makes them smile is love,  time and effort freely given. In an age where we run behind materialistic things looking far ahead at the bigger picture we often times forget the small pixels, the ones when joined together make a spectacular picture. On an end note all I would say is "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."