At 14, I left my life in Dubai for a journey of discovery in India out of my own will.
At 16, I headed Make A Difference’s first partnership-based library project in Mangalore.
At 18, I became President of Chicago-based Bookwallah’s chapter in Bangalore.
At 20, I left home to chart new waters in Mumbai on my own.
This was supposed to be a piece of cake.
If I had to rewind and tell you what the past year has been like in one word, I probably couldn’t. One word will not explain what life in violence-ridden Yerwada is like. One word will not tell you just how damaged Government schools can be. One word will not let you picture the daily exertion of Fellow and Teacher alike, fighting against the odds. Each child is a story of despair and hope at the same time. One word will not explain their stories, and how much it damaged me.
Every moment, their struggle gnawed at my mind. It was not just poverty, or abuse, or even poor systems. It was a severe lack of love; surprising how something so simple can change children’s lives, really.
In a recent Facebook post, I spoke about a “trend of transformation” in my classroom. Funnily though, I never saw it that way until several conversations, a long break and a good deal of drinks later. I never saw it until I realized that this wasn’t a piece of cake for my kiddos either.
Each child is a story of despair and hope at the same time. Today, as a school team, we feed off that hope. Be it the Sunday visits to their homes, be it our ambitious goals for the school, be it the mad effort of getting resources to the kids- every step is cemented with a free sense of belief that this is worth it. For their sakes and ours.
Tomorrow, the first ever student Council Leaders of our school will be pledging their commitment and service to the school and their peers.
All of us who have attended upper-end schools know that this is but a formality, mostly an institution of order and hierarchies.
To these kids, it is the next step in their personal journey of transformation.
To me, it is proof that we’ve set off something plain beautiful, possibly more beautiful than we can understand today.