Wednesday, December 30, 2009
How are you all? It’s long since I have written my last letter. There were two reasons for the delay, firstly I pretended to be very busy to myself and hence follows the second that I did so because currently I am working on a project.
You all will feel very happy as you go down the page. To start with I would like to tell about the project I am working on (I am very eager to share with all my friends). Together with two TFI fellows, I am working on to establish a model school for low- income community. It would be a family school and will address all the problems of low income community. In the morning it would be a learning centre for kids and later in the afternoon it would be a Community Learning Centre where we would conduct various workshops and training such as Nutrition, health, sanitation, child abuse, alcoholism, ways to augment their income and literacy training for elders. During our recent exposure to slums we figured out few reasons of why kids lack behind despite of our tremendous efforts in the classroom. One of them is that they are with us for 6 hrs. and for remaining 18 hrs. they are either with their family or community which completes their whole world. So, we felt important to change their world outside the classroom and hence came up with the idea of model school. Our future plan is to replicate the model in other cities of country, if it is successful.
So, regarding our project we were meeting many educators, social workers and visiting best schools throughout the country to get an insight of what is learning. As a part of this process we reached Ahemdabad- The City of Gandhi. We met Kiran Sethi of Riverside School, Sunil Handa of Eklavya, Amitabh of Yuva, Madhusudan of Mammovies etc. and the most inspiring one Jayesh Bhai of Manav Sadhna & Anar Behen of Gramshree.
For me Jayesh Bhai is today’s Gandhi, he operates his NGO from Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati, keeping alive the principles of Truth and Ahimsa. It was Christmas Day and the best Christmas of my life. We worked with 70 leprosy patients. We accompanied them to Akshardham in the morning and there took place an incredible incident which moved me from head to toe, the patients who were mostly beggars took out 10 -15 Rs. from their pocket and gave them as offering in the temple. I was startled seeing this and their belief in God, inspite of their sufferings. Then we served lunch to the patients, after the lunch we sat down to have a discussion. They were so happy and all were saying that it is their happiest moment of life. After that we went to Science City in Ahemdabad, saw a 3-D movie at IMAX with them, it was a great exp. for me also . In a scene stone was falling down and it felt that it will fall on us, at that moment I have also closed my eyes. After movie we ate ice-cream, shared some happy and sad moments with them. They were so relieved and happiness was visible in their eyes.
Jayesh Bhai says, “Don’t be a leader, be a ladder”, which speaks a lot of his personality. His humility and passion to help poor’s works as an inspiration not only to me but to many. He works with more than 6000 kids and women and the best thing is that he knows most of them by name.
Once again I would urge all my friends to come forward and share their part of responsibilities. At the end I would leave a question, which I have read somewhere, “Why to wait for a Sunami or earthquake or flood to happen, when half the nation lives in disaster every day ???”
Will soon get my next letter... about “What inspired me to became a part of CHANGE?”
Saturday, October 31, 2009
If I think back on my decision to join Teach For India, I would say that it’s the wisest decision of my life. I think that I am at the right place at right time. I feel myself to be privileged to get an opportunity to feel such wonderful experience at a mere age of 24, working with such dedicated and highly professional group is a respect for me.
I feel a great change in my mindset, skills, personality etc. during past 5 months. Now I dare to think large and work on it to execute it. It feels amazing when you can see measurable growth for what you have been working 24*7 i.e. the kids with whom you are working. Now my life revolves between the 50 kids of my class, my all lows & highs are part of my class. I would like to describe the two scenes of my class now and then:
15 June 2009 : My first day in Class
I entered the class, a bit tensed, a bit excited, it was my first day in class. As the strength was low so, I shared my class with my fellow teacher Aniket, both of us were excited. It gave us a clear picture of what we are into. The kids were violent, abusing, fighting, playing here and there and not at all listening to us. So, the challenge was clear. The first thing that came to my mind was how to make them a better human being and make my class a group of civilized students. Academically they were years back of their grade level. For the first few days I tried to figure out the different groups in my class, like the violent kids, academically sound kids etc. then decided to focus on them. I tried to make a bond with them loved them, played with them tried to know them better, consulted about their background from different teachers and it helped. After a struggle of few weeks things were changing in the class.
Now, 31 October 2009
Today my kids consider me as a guide, as a elder brother, as a friend, as role model, as a mentor and I try to appear in front of them in the way they want me to. I am happy to switch my roles if they are comfortable with me in any of the roles at different times. My class, which I consider to be a class of gentlemen is a team of SUPERSTARS. They have changed drastically since June, now they remain quite and do their work even if I am not in class.
Keertana who has never spelled a word for months now tries to speak in English, she talks to me like a friend. Sandesh’s mother complains me about the fact that he writes diary at home for hours and has filled two copies writing dairy. Now he has the confidence to speak in front of anyone without hesitation. Saniya wants to come to school even if she is sick. Shahid who was considered to be mentally retarded by the school administration spells the longest word of English language before anyone in the class. There are many more such incidences. But the challenges are not over, we have to travel a long way. Imtiyaaz is still violent, Hitesh never opens the book at home, Sonali keeps smiling but never studies. So, challenges are still there but we will overcome all as the time passes.
I consider these small happiness’s as a landmark and enjoy them all. At times I get very upset and it becomes very difficult to bear the pressure and I am thankful to everyone around me for supporting me during these lows. It was not possible to come so far without the support of my principal, teachers at school, Aniket( other fellow from TFI in my school), Sapan (my Program Manager) & staff from TFI, other fellows at TFI, my friend who always support me from outside, my family and always being with me my 50 kids.
I have to go a long way with my kids and want to see each of my kid at the top. Sometimes I feel that I am not teaching them but they are teaching me different ways of life and I feel that it’s true in a sense because they have seen a lot more than me, the struggle that they face in their daily life has made them stronger than me. The way I used to think about different issues has changed a lot. When I go to a kids house and see the conditions in which he is living, I feel as if its not his fault if he is scoring less or is abusing or is violent and its true. After seeing all this I have to change my way of talking to kids, now I treat them differently, I apply differentiation even in the way I talk to my kids during 1 -1 conversation and it is helpful.
It’s a incredible journey till now and hope so coming days.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I miss you all a lot, I have learned a lot from all of you and now being so far away, I remember the time when we were connected in some way or other. Sorry for being late again, during the last week I was busy in Joy of Giving Week. I & my Superstars took part in it by running a Plantation Drive at our school which was a barren land before it and now there are more than 26 plants in our campus. On October 2, I took part in an event “Be the change- COME ALIVE”, in this I was the facilitator of the group “Talk to People”. In my group I was with 6 other persons (Age Group 23- 47 years) and we all were stranger for each other, except one of my seniors from college Rahul Gupta. He came all the way from Baroda to take part in the event. It was a different experience; we shared experiences of different persons on road. Then I was a part of a Free Hug Campaign, which gave a unique feeling and it was rocking.
So due to planning and executing these events, I was bit busy during last couple of weeks. Once again I am with a piece of letter which is the continued part of the last one. Please recall that one before you go through it.
In the previous one I was sharing about what I saw on the eve of Ganesh Visarjan and then the sight of gambling.
As I was crossing the lane and moving forward to take an auto, I was struck by a totally different scene, something that I have heard many times but never seen it. The sound of dhol’s of Ganesh Visarjan could still be heard but the sight was not the normal one, I was in a Red Light area and shocked at the sight. Three different situations in a diameter of 200m. Hundreds of prostitutes standing in a line with a misery on their face, compelled into a job that is considered to be the most hated one. They seemed like a parrot in the cage, who wants to fly away but the owner has cut the wings. I keenly observed the sight from the auto and what I figured out was that it is not a profession by choice, they are forced in it. It seemed to me as a profession made by us but still abused by us. But the greatest misery was the Police Station at the end of that lane.
When I tried to get more information about the situation over there, I came to know that most of the girls there are transported from Bangladesh, China and North- East India. There are more than 1000 of prostitute’s in that region and major portion of the customers are students. This means that our present generation is getting into such obsessions, which are bad not only for them but also for the nation. In my regard if not controlled then the situation can be similar to the one Britisher’s created by the growth and sale of opium at least for the city of Pune.
I was quite disturbed by these thoughts and in fact I am still.....
We need an effort to change these conditions. It’s our nation and we have to take the charge. Our young blood is capable of making a new developed and prosperous India, the only thing we need is a push and that we have to generate in ourselves. Our culture ( Sanskriti) will protect us until we keep our culture in built in us.
At last I would urge:
BE THE CHANGE – COME ALIVE
I pray to God that this letter finds you in best of your health. It’s long since I have mailed the last letter. The days are hectic here but it is still full of joy, learning and happiness. My class is progressing at a good pace , kids are learning new things and teaching me more than what I teach them. It feels great to be with them, the day finishes as if a couple of hour have passed.
Today I would talk about a different thing not about kids, nor about the leadership forums, nor about my experiences at Teach For India, but I will share something that many of us must have felt at different modes of our life.
It was the celebration of Ganesh Visarjan, which is celebrated with full enthusiasm in Maharashtra and my first year at Maharashtra. So, I was out on roads to watch the culture forgetting Swine Flu, without a mask I was with a crowd nearly 10,000 people. Roads were blocked for kms. everywhere just one sound “Ganapati Bappa Morya...” It was first time I have seen such a massive and dedicated crowd gathered not to see a politician or a celebrity but to sing and pray together. Everything was fine but all of a sudden I found that the sound of “Ganapati Bappa Morya...” was lowering down in my ears, though I was standing right there, my soul was there but my mind was somewhere else. There was all together a different thought going in my mind and the question was: Why is the man mad in the rat race of money, when real happiness lies somewhere else?
I messaged the question to few of my friends but no one replied, it might be no one knew the answer or everyone is after money. I also don’t know why was I thinking so, but that question still annoys me a lot. Over there I was seeing people dancing, singing, enjoying forgetting all their sorrows and misery they were enjoying life, I too was very engaged until this question crept in my mind. All these thoughts were floating in my mind but then also the scene over there was mesmerizing and at last after a long time I decided to go back home. It was a wonderful evening.
But there was a lot to see today. As I was leaving from there, in the very next lane there was a lottery shop, wide open and people drinking and gambling there. You can understand the adversity of the two tremendously different situations. Once again it portrayed the diversity of our society, how different the conditions are for people from different strata’s of our society, one side it is Lord Ganesha and the other side is the gambling corner. These conditions often disturbs my mind but trying to change the things around him man starts living in those conditions and becomes a part of it.
It was not the end, I saw something and that sight was new to me, the scene was like a hammer on my mind. I realized that real scene and something read in a book are quite different and they have different impact also.....
Its long for now and I know that many of us avoid such long mails.... So, will continue in the next and this time very soon.
Till then reflect and suggest me the answers.... !!!
All the Best
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
How are you all ? I am enjoying here and learning a new lesson each day. Each day brings a new message, full of life, it gives a new way to see through opaque sides of life. Day by day I am getting younger , more patient, more creative, more responsible, more hard working, more ….. . Its great to be with 51 odd kids who don’t know what the life is outside their slums, they have heard about pizza’s, burger etc. , but don’t know its shape. Some times my heart cries when they come to class with a mark of wound on their face, when they tell about their family (one kid told me that his father is living with other women and has left his mother and him behind to live in rags, other says, my father comes home drunk and beat my mother and me), such instances can shake anyone that a kid of 9- 10 years has to face all these things at his house, girls have to prepare food for all the family member.
I would request all my readers to come forward and look around may be a child needs your helping hand to stand on his feet to see the different colors of life. Its never late in life, like popular hindi saying, “Jab jagoo tabhi savera.” It never costs you something rather in return you will get a thing which you can never buy-- INNER SATISFACTION.
Life is a long race and we have the capacity to win it. I would like to quote a conversation of one of my fellows and a kid:
Fellow- Why did you come late for school?
Kid- Bahiya, the auto had a puncture and we had to stop to get the puncture repaired.
Fellow- You should have been put in another auto. Tomorrow I am going to scold your autowala.
Kid- Bhaiya, the autowala is my father.
Think about our roles in society, what difference can we make……
I have attached a letter that is one of the best gift for me....!!!