Today was my last visit to Parikrma as an employee of my current company. Parikrma is an NGO that run schools for slum kids. Besides the free education, these kids come to school and are provided 2 meals a day as well. The meals are a major motivating factor for parents to send their kids to the school. These kids come from homes where the average family size is 5 and the average income for the entire family would be about 2000-3000 rupees. Anyway, without describing in depth the background, I’ll cut to the chase.
When I started out with Parikrma, I was fairly reluctant and was averse to the thought of spending my weekends helping these kids out. Weekends are meant for sleeping late and generally being unproductive. But all this changed after my first visit to Parikrma. I can’t remember ever having seen so much enthusiasm in the eyes of children to learn. Many of the kids I have worked with are talented beyond imagination. Some of them are fantastic at art, speaking, athletics, etc. Ever since my first interaction with these kids, I have genuinely felt useful to the human race. There was a certain sense of accomplishment and joy that just can’t be described in words. Putting it in layman terms, a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside. I found myself for once actually having a fair amount of respect for myself.
Over the last year, I’ve been reading up a lot on Che Guevara. The one thing that influenced me the most was that he always believed in helping people. Even through the revolution, he would still use his medical background to help locals. There comes a certain pride in helping other people which nothing else in the world can bring about. And it is even better if the people you help genuinely appreciate the help extended. This was what I felt at Parikrma. When any of the students came and thanked you at the end of a workshop, the genuine gratitude in their eyes is the most heart warming thing I’ve felt in a long time. They genuinely mean thank you and are not saying it because some ethic driven institute told them to say so. This is definitely one of the nicest things my current company has imbibed me with. Most people learn technical or managerial skills, I learnt true responsibility.
After the very first visit, I have been going back and helping out at Parikrma on my own over the weekends for purely selfish reasons. It makes me feel good about myself and makes me feel like I am actually helping humanity. Call it being silly and trying to emulate a man like Guevara, but at the end of the day, the peace I find with myself is like no other. I go home with a sense of accomplishment and know that in some way, maybe sometime down the line, that one kid might be able to use what we’ve taught for good. I now understand that you can donate all the money you want to charity, but actually becoming a volunteer is a whole new ball game. I’ve become a far more patient person after dealing with children of so many age groups. And all this at the end of the day makes me a better person and is in some small way making a difference to my homeland. All is not lost with our country, If we believe we can change, without the help of unconcerned politicians, we will change. Like I was discussing the other day, there is still hope for the human race if we can understand where our true responsibilities towards the human race lies. And if being selfish is what it takes, so be it. I am selfish. I help people to make myself feel good about myself.
I am going to sincerely try to continue helping children in this manner. I hope that I never forget where my true responsibility lies. Maybe someday, I can write my own Mohan Bhargav story.