The week has been packed. It has been trying and I have been pushed. It was exhilarating but also exhausting. I am happy that the week has gone off well and I am wrapping it up with a night full of TV and food. I am a die-hard fan of Fridays just because it feels like you have all the time in the world. Yesterday I was really disappointed, one because nothing was working out. Moreover, because I had work even when I didn’t feel up to it. Today I woke up on the right side of the bed. Things slowly fell into place and I got through it with minimum destruction.
It’s a long journey hereon and everything is going to change, people, work, and life in general. I feel like I’ve been lucky to get an NGO that works for a cause that I am really passionate about. The NGO works in the field of education and rooted in gender politics, specifically within the dynamics of India. I feel like I will be able to contribute. I took up a module during my master’s called Gender and development. The topic I chose to write my final paper on was, ‘Gender and education in the context of India’. This experience will be the practical part of what was previously a theoretical idea.
The best part is I’ll get to work with great people who care about the cause. At the end of the day, the work I’ll be doing for the next two months is not about me but it’s about the people I am trying to serve. I’m going to be a part of something much larger than building my resume, furthering my career prospects and gaining goodwill. It’s about making the society suitable for everyone in it. In a small way to bring those who have missed out on development for no fault of theirs onto an equal platform. Of course, it’s not going to happen by July, which is how long I’ll be involved with the project but we’ll get to be a part of something.
I’ve done social work before, but every time I associate myself with an NGO it feels new. I am not this charged when I do my coursework, freelancing or generally writing. Today I saw a little girl lurking around a restaurant, she was small, skinny, scruffy and barefoot, staring desperately through the glass at people laughing and eating huge expensive meals. The little girl was on her tiptoes, while the security guard was trying to shoo her away. I noticed how those inside the restaurant continued without noticing the little girl. Those who did see her, turned away quickly hoping she won’t approach them.
People have learnt to ignore poverty, we have mastered the art of turning a blind eye. We drown out whatever is wrong. Of course, money would end up going to her parents and the people who make her beg for a living. When she was shooed away, I went up to her and talked to her for a bit, I asked her name, where she was staying and whether she comes there every day. I won’t reveal anything about her here because that would be compromising her identity, especially without her consent. I went into the restaurant, packed a little something enough for her for lunch that I hoped she would like, came outside and gave it to her.
I don’t like giving children money, because I don’t know if they will be able to retain it and it might not fill their stomachs. She was so excited and her eyes lit up. For me, it was a matter of spending 300 rupees, for her, it was her first meal of the day. I talked to her a bit more, told her a little bit about myself and I felt like she gave me so much worth more than the meager 300 rupees I spent, her happiness was priceless. I have been berated in the past for talking in depth to beggars. But it gives me insight into what their lives are like and what compels them. I once met an old man in a park, who had walked over many states, homeless and was hoping to buy medicines for his wife’s treatment. I could have just ignored him and he would have walked away.
People act as if they have no time for these people, but then what is humanity about? I remember someone getting angry at me for interacting with a beggar because it meant I was not talking to them and the complaint was, that I spent 15 minutes talking to him when I should have been entertaining my companion. It’s terrible how people react to these things. Educated people cannot pretend like they are high and mighty above talking to poor people. They don’t want your pity or your money, they want help which can also be monetary, and sometimes even 5 rupees can make a difference in their lives.
Today was an eye-opener. Today was a milestone. I am always going to remember that little girl. I am always going to remember her hugging me. What use are my degree, my brain, and all these internships if I am not doing what everyone should be doing? Social work has wrongly been assumed to be glamorous, a badge to pin on your chest and to show your future boss that you care.
It’s about doing something, the outcome is a better society. So as I sat through my induction and listened to all of the speakers, I was nodding and jotting down points. But when I met that little girl today on the last day of my induction it taught me more than any trainer or fellowship can ever teach me. I cannot wait for work to start. You think society has come a long way but there is so much left to do.