Inspiring. Little. People.

“A child has a special way of adding joy every day!”

‘The Love Bug.’  The children at Mukthi Yojana School had watched this movie almost a 100 times. By the time I got the DVD back, the impressions on the cover told me – ‘I have been used to my fullest capacity.’

My aunt was a teacher there and she dedicated her life to bringing up the children. Most of them had come from troubled and traumatic conditions, and their school was their paradise. My aunt had been with the school since its very inception, and today I meet her students who are working with the top MNC’s.

Isn’t it beautiful, how you can change someones life? Some of my best childhood memories were with these kids, the only difference was I had access to all the privileges’ they didn’t even know existed. My only solution to this was: SHARE.

Everything new that came into the house, found its way to the school (things that could be used by all 36 of them) – and most of the time it would be new DVD’s and books! It seems like such a small thing, but to them, it was everything.

In 2004 , my family relocated to Hyderabad from Pune, and weekend meets turned to half yearly meets. And as years went by, I saw less of them, but they always made sure to send greeting cards with my aunt which had drawings of the movies they watched!

Their top 3 choices: Always!

Fast forwarding 13 years to 2017, I got the opportunity to interact with children again!

The first time I heard about India Literacy project (ILP)  was when our neighbors mentioned it to us and my mom was helping them out with some art and craft for the kids (back in 2009). And like I always say, things have a way of working out.

Manmohan Sir (mentioned in my previous post) is the founder of ILP India – Hyderabad Chapter, and as always, he presented me with yet another opportunity to learn and grow.

In the month of March, I started helping with a few social media posts for ILP and the following month was when I volunteered for the summer camp that took place.

Have you ever entered a room and felt such infectious energy that you never wanted to leave? I think we all feel a little nervous for the first day at anything new. But, the minute I entered the classroom, all of them started saying ‘Hi’ as loudly as they could.

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As each one introduced themselves, it was exciting to notice how many of them wanted to be Police Officers or Teachers when they grew up, and there were a couple of them who wanted to be Collectors! After this, I read them a story (which Manmohan sir helped translate to Telugu).

The first day itself was quite an eye opener for me, I knew I wanted to keep coming back and hopefully help the kids have an enjoyable summer! (Honestly, the children gave me the best summer!)

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The second class, we learnt how to tell the time! (Spot our clock book)

The above was the most touching class for me. Once they were all done connecting the dots and coloring it, I asked them to write their names and the date. After this, they thought they had to submit the paper to me, to which I said “No, thats for you to take home!”  and their elation to this filled my heart with warmth.

Their excitement for getting a chance to take a piece of paper home was what made me realize the excess of privileges we have and honestly don’t even require. So next time you plan to throw papers out, or even text books, remember there is always someone in need of it.

Look what we made!

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This is Nithin. And I swear, I did not teach him how to do that!

If they are the future of India, our country is definitely going to be in the right hands. They do not care if the temperature is 40 degrees, all they care about is dancing their hearts out, they care about learning something new and grabbing every single opportunity that has come knocking on their door.

No matter what you say, they are going to give you a wide smile and enjoy doing whatever it is you have planned for them.

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The Grand Finale!

On the last day, it was almost like celebrating a festival! Doesn’t it make you happy just looking at that picture?  They had a few dance numbers, coupled with a price distribution for our Chess Legends!

 Nithin and Shandhya made this ‘Thank You’ card for all the volunteers!

A special note about these two kids: Nithin and Sandhya came up to me after this because they wanted to play a game of Chess. I told them, I need to get to office soon, so maybe next time, to which promptly came their response “Didi aap humse phir kabhi nahi milogey, sirf ek game, 5 mins, please!” (Didi, you will never meet us again, just one game, 5 mins!) I was at a loss of words. I took the time to process the fact that I could actually be of so much importance to someone; but the reality was that they were in fact the ones who had largely impacted my life. Sandhya was also the one who helped me with “Minding the Class”. It was some great practice for our budding police officer!

These kids taught me how important it is to appreciate everything you have in life and not take it for granted. They taught me that you do not need a world class infrastructure to change the world, you just need a big heart and the determination to learn.

So of course I had to play a game with them, I was on both teams (Guess who won!)

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A special shoutout to Neha, Shravan and Archana and all ILP staff and volunteers, the most fun and passionate people to work with!

I urge everyone to take something up that will bring them the kind of joy that being with these children brought me. It is hard for me to put into words, just how much they have all inspired me, and taught me in a span of a few days.

Every single one of them deserves to spread their light in this world, and we need volunteers constantly who can reach out to them and help them in realizing their dreams. They are all extremely intelligent and have immense potential which needs to be tapped.

If you think you would love to be a part of our journey – then join us, follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ilphyd/ for latest updates and get inspired by our little people.

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To sum up my emotions at the end of it and a note to say thank you to Manmohan sir, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.

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