10 days…40 awesomely amazingly inspiring people…one constant feeling…overwhelming!!
When I started this journey, I was like a blank slate, no emotions, not even excitement. There was a deep sense of acceptance and somewhere a sense of relief that I was finally getting down to some action.
Last year in the month of April, I visited Chitrakoot – A model village in Madhya Pradesh. It did not take me long to realize that this is what I see myself doing, this is where my passion lies…reaching out to the unreachables, giving them access to equal opportunities for development and growth. I went through a big emotional turmoil, for the expectation mismatch at the family took a toll on my patience. I did not know how to convince them that this is what I want to do. At the end I decided to stay back in Mumbai!
From the beginning the intention of getting involved in Rural Development was with a philosophy of Prevention. Everyday I would see tens and hundreds of children working at a tender age, most of them had come from their villages in search of better future to the cities. As an outsider, looking at a situation objectively I could see how badly they were trapped in the vicious circle.
How can I change this? How can I work towards giving a childhood to every child? How did it all started? From where can I start? Many such questions only led my belief to become stronger – We need to work at the root, at the source, our villages!!
Within 4 months of starting my work in Mumbai, I was ready to go to Lucknow and start our work in some of the villages in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh. On the night when I was to board the train from Delhi to Lucknow, I was being called back by my family because of a medical emergency which sort of rose due to my travelling to Uttar Pradesh.
Words still fail to express what I went through in those 24hrs. Tears weren’t enough to express the grief, the anger, the frustration and the helplessness. I felt as if I was being asked not to breathe or not to live!! Even after I came back to Mumbai, this became a very sensitive topic of discussion within family – Working in Uttar Pradesh!!!
I wouldn’t say I wasn’t aware, I knew from the beginning that this is not a very easy state to work in but at the same I knew the most that the state required interventions, about time!!!
Months passed, I was finding new ways of addressing the symptoms of the problem in Mumbai. Identifying and addressing gaps in the systems, in the processes. Part of me was getting used to it and but there was still a part which would yearn for otherwise!!
And then came May 4th and a very quick glance on the facebook post of a friend and next thing I knew, I became part of Gramya Manthan!!
Event during those 10 days, it was hard for me to identify with one particular feeling that remained for long. The environment was so intense that there were tens of emotions running through my veins at the same time but deep down inside I was a lot at peace. I felt so belonged there….every moment!! Be it interacting with super energetic friends, be it sitting in silence experiencing the nature, travelling by bus everyday to the villages, walking in the fields, talking to the fellow villagers….every moment was like a meditation, I was there…in the moment totally!!
The feeling personified the last day when I was standing in front of about 100 villagers, talking to them about how we can together create a change and I could see that I really did not had to take any efforts, the conversations were just flowing. And Yes!! That day there was a feeling of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy that my belief got reinforced – Yes I do belong here!!!
And right now, after the program I am feeling deeply committed and motivated. I know I can and I will be a part of the change that we all are working to create there!
As I close my eyes I see – Anshu (the little girl I met in Paliya), Avanish, Rangoli, Bhabhi, Aarti, Ankit, Mangoli and many such wonderful people, gathered in front of Masterji’s house, giggling and playing games.
What brings smile on my face is to see Udit, Sudha, Praneet and my other fellow changeagents around and what makes my eyes sparkle is to see a big soulful smile on Prakhar’s face :-)!
Feel blessed and grateful to Gramya Manthan, to Prakhar, Kishan, Shubha, Neeraj, Sanjiv Bhaiya, Rajiv Bhaiya for being part of such a memorable experience, to my fellow change agents for the love that you gave and to the existence for the experiences that I experienced!!
There is no looking back now…the dawn is finally here!!!