Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Republic Day - Initiation day for Project Unnati!

Nishank experience of the day:

I tend to remember that on last Republic Day I was watching “Rang De Basanti” in PVR. The movie was great and thought provoking too. There was a scene in the movie where the actors were sitting in a bar and complaining “Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta!”

Well how easy it is to just watch the surroundings around us and shrugging off that nothing can be done!

But coming forward and bringing some change is a different game.

Unnati is supposed to be one such example.

I am sure we all want to see a developed India where there is an equal opportunity for all to succeed, where every child can go to a school. Where no child has to spend his childhood working day and night to earn a living instead of being able to play with his friends. Where people are not trapped in a vicious circle of poverty but have a chance to lead a decent life.

But just having a dream is not enough. The question is how much does it matters to us to achieve that dream.

We have an excellent opportunity to bring the change we envision. Being the youth of the nation we have a great responsibility on our shoulders as how we are going to shape up the future of the country.

There will always be only 24x7 = 168 hours in a week for us even if we yearn for more. In this limited time only per week we have to manage our time between our work, our family and friends, our hobbies and anything else we want to do. Things won’t change in a weekJ. But slowly and steadily if we move towards the goal, with our collective efforts we can achieve a lot. It’s not just about doing things here in Gurgaon, or being part of AID Gurgaon. It’s about asking ourselves as what role I am going to play and why. It’s about though being anywhere in India, or even outside India, but working towards bringing the change. But when we are able to do something near our immediate surroundings then changes are most perceptible.

When we come ahead for volunteering we are helping people who may be totally strangers to us, but still we share a common bond among us. They may be quite lagging in terms of education, income etc. when compared to us. But they are also citizens of the same India. Globalization and economic development shouldn’t remain a prerogative of few who are able to get decent education and get plugged-in in the system to enjoy benefits brought by Information Technology, Outsourcing, Foreign Direct Investment etc. Off-late we have seen that gap between Haves and Have-nots is increasing day by day but at some point the trend needs to be reserved. And for that we need to do something about it. It’s responsibility of each one of us.

Or else there is a simple solution. We can simply sit in our air-conditioned offices, sipping a cup of coffee and saying, “Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta!”

Oh I yet have to start regarding the update on activities!

When we reached Unnati the children became excited and started making noises. We tried to gather all the children at one place. But they were not listening much to us. Some of the elders there intervened and helped us in keeping the children disciplined. We had plans of distributing slates and toffees to the children. We had taken 70 slates with us, but soon we realized that it was not enough. We got a bit confused as how to proceed ahead. But anyways we decided that the elder children would be given the slates first followed by the younger children. We decided to first note down the names of the children.

It seemed to be an arduous task. Sachin and Sumit were trying to placate the children. Deepak took the lead in between and children spoke following him, “Hum sabko padh likh ke bada aadmi banna hai”! That time we didn’t have a pen and paper with us. Then Mr. Mohd Rafi (I hope you guyz have not forgot Shahrukh and now we have Mr. Rafi) immediately arranged it for us. He is the owner of a tea-stall there and he is one of the few people to whom we had a talk initially regarding our plan of teaching children there.

Manoj started jotting down the names of the children along with Ravi. They jotted down the names of the children to whom slates were to be given. Then we started calling each child by his/her name to handover the slate/chalk and other children clapped with it. Meanwhile Deepak was busy in taking the snaps. Amit, Ankit, Rachit and I were busy opening the packing of slates and handing it over for distribution. The parents where happy that something good was happening for their children.

When we had distributed few of the slates we saw that few of the children have already started writing down their names on the slates. It was really nice to see that. One by one our stock of slates were finished and still few younger children were saying that they too want the slates. We told them that we will soon arrange the slates for them too. At that time the toffees came handy as we said that we will give toffees to them and told children to stand in line. After that we handed over the toffees which appeased the younger children. Even few of the elders said that they too want the slates
J and that time we said that today slates are only for children.

We also had a chance to interact with the parents and some of them were asking regarding schooling for their children. Even some of the adults there want to learn reading and writing. It was a really nice experience and a bit unique way for celebrating Republic Day for us.

Once we go to that place, it makes us wonder that how these people are living in so abject poverty. How they must have faced this gruesome winter in their patch-like homes. What is the future going to be for these children for whom the present is in this dire condition? How much these people can think of education for their children when they are surviving on hand to mouth existence and not sure of what they will earn the next day.

And the most important question is, “Will things ever change for them? “


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