by Tanishaa Vatsayan
With sweaty palms and a ball of nerves inside my stomach, I walked in with a huge question mark dangling over my head. ‘Apna Ghar’ (in English means ‘my home’) is a destitute home in Patna, Bihar which provides a safe environment for kids who have no where to go. But what I did not know was how I, as an individual, could make an impact in the lives of those kids. I walked in, and I could feel fifty pairs of eyes watching my every move. But what caught my attention was the excitement and the eagerness to learn lurking behind their curious eyes.
So I came up with a plan to involve the children in a variety of activities and introduce a new way of learning that involved breaking the shackles that limited them to the ‘bookish’ way of life. They used the pallet of colors and a white sheet of paper as a medium to express themselves. The next step was opening up and speaking about their problems, this process in particular turned out to be very challenging. At first they were very hesitant and apprehensive in sharing their story and that made me realize that earning their trust will be a difficult task. So I started by sharing pieces of my own story to make them comfortable in my presence and that marked the onset of an enlightening journey.
It was beautiful to see the children emerge out of their cocoon and share a piece of their life. After listening to them, I got to know that one of the main reasons the majority of the kids ran away from home was because they were either at the brunt of physical assault by their parents or poverty drove their families to send their children out to work. And most importantly the hurt in their voice clearly portrayed the lack of attention and love they received in their life. No 10-year old should give up his aspirations and dreams because of the burden of feeding his entire family is on his tiny shoulders. One of the main ways through which we can tackle this problem is by generating employment for families in the rural area so that they don’t have to force their children to work on their behalf and most importantly strengthening the pillars of education in the state of Bihar.
I always thought that only a large group can put their point across and make changes in our country, but this experience made me tumble on the fact that the number of people don’t matter–you just need a strong incentive and the will to make the difference. The moment I saw the brightness shine in the eyes of those children and seeing them smile towards me working towards making their dream a reality, I know I had made a difference.