I have taken numerous trips to this place over 2 years. By bus, auto, bike and a chauffeur driven car. It didn’t matter how I reached. It just mattered to be present.
I landed up here because I loved Mathematics and I wanted to contribute to the society. And so I turned into a Mathematics and English teacher on the weekends, for Prerna. Prerna, as an NGO, supports bright students with a not-so-good financial background to continue their studies with scholarships and free tutions.
This was a journey I had always thought would be fulfilling and satisfying for me as a human being, for being able to give back something to the society. It was anything, but that. What I got to learn from that experience, and what I gained was more than I would have given to the students in those two years.
Initially, I was a little apprehensive about ‘teaching’ classes XI and XII, as they are supposed to be these rowdy teenagers, who give a really tough time to the 'teachers', what with flying airplanes, asking stupid questions and talking back! And this wasn't even a proper school where I could punish them or call their parents over for disciplinary issues.
But my first class was a complete U-turn from what I had imagined it to be. I had the sweetest kids in my class. Their faces or behavior never gave away the plight back home, even if you didn't take into account teenagers minus their flashy dresses and gadgets. Even though their family income was meager, their dreams weren't. The fire in their bellies that urged them to work hard and achieve their dreams left me speechless. I cringed at my 22 year old self, of how ungrateful we were, of all that we had, when we were in school. We never took advantage of the opportunities we got in life, we took everything for granted. And here were these kids, who hardly knew if they would be able to continue their studies in the next semester or class, and still turned up for their classes unfailingly every weekend to make as much as of the situation as they could.
We also had parents of these kids come over at prize distribution ceremonies, to make them understand that their kids held a lot of promise, and that they would be the ones breaking the cycle of poverty for their families. Once we asked the mother of the boy who had topped the state boards to speak about how it felt. All of us were in tears as she explained how the times had been so trying for the family, as she was the only earning member and had three kids to support. The boy would help his mother as well as study late into the night. The promise her child had, gave her a hope that all the hard work she was doing was worth it. We also had a girl who had won a scholarship to go NASA for a 3-day educational trip. I couldn't help but admire the zeal these kids had.
|Joining hands for a better future!|
We also had a guy, among ourselves, who had graduated with Prerna's support and was working with a top IT firm. He too turned up all weekends, be it rain or shine. He even donated a part of his salary every month to his true alma mater. My learning just never stopped there.
This journey is something that I will not be able to forget my entire life. Even though I could not continue with Prerna because I left the city, it has taught me a lot of lessons for life. It showed me an altogether different world that exists outside our comfortable homes, AC cars and fancy offices. It taught me to be grateful for everything that I have, had or will ever have. And no matter how big I grow in life, I will always remember to give a part of it back for somebody who might not be as lucky as I was, but is definitely way more talented than I am.
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