It’s been more than 2 and half years since we started out with our initiative ABC (www.abc-org.blogspot.in) and I am happy as well as a little disappointed on how the organization has churned out to be during this period. Happy for the fact that it still exists (yes, trust me it’s pretty easy for such initiatives to die down soon after the initial burst), is bigger (in terms of the projects that we have been undertaking) and is functioning better as well (for the school we have been associated with during this time). And disappointed because we had envisaged it to become a larger organization (in terms of the no. of members) and one with a larger reach (in terms of no. of schools we helping out with). But at the end of the day I am glad that at least the people who are still actively participating in ABC’s activities are really committed and are self-driven in this common journey of ours.
During this time, we have undertaken a number of activities for the kids of these schools like
- Stationery Drive
- Shoe Drives in 2010 and 2013
- Annual scholarship program for the 7th std kids
- Annual sponsorship of 10th std. students’ exam fees
- Water filter project, the biggest project we have undertaken
to name a few…
But the main objective of starting this organization was to provide good quality education to these kids, similar to the one which the likes of me were blessed to have, and we are definitely strive towards it.
But during this time I also started realizing that we, a group of about 5-7 friends, were able to pull off something that helped improve, in whatever little way, the studying conditions of more than 400 kids.
They had uniforms and shoes to wear, pens and pencils to write and give their exams, money to pay their exam fee and access to clean drinking water. This triggered a thought in my mind that why can’t then each group of friends pick up a small school around their locality and provide whatever support, financial if not anything else, they can to improve the studying environment of the school? Because I believe that in this context and at the juncture where India is today, something is definitely and always better than nothing.
From my little experience and interactions with people across all age groups and different backgrounds, everyone has been appreciative when I have talked about ABC to them and most of them also expressed a desire that they too want/wanted to do something like this. This shows that people are grateful to our society and have a sense of giving-back to it from which we have received so much. But still only a small percentage of these people actually venture out and do something about it. So who/what is stopping them?
The most common reasons I can think of that people give themselves, more than anyone else, are: lack of time and money, and a feeling that a lot has to be sacrificed to do something in this area. But according to me each one of them is not relevant today.
As I see it, our country is definitely more prosperous, especially the middle class, compared to where the nation was a couple of decades ago. More people are better educated, have stable jobs, good salaries; more members of the family (women mainly) are working hence increasing the household income as well. Hence the youth coming from this class definitely can’t complain of both lack of money and time. I am not saying that the youth are filthy rich or they have all the time in the world. They do have career ambitions, work/study and certain other responsibilities to fulfill as well. In fact, none of us in ABC are any different. But we also know that we can definitely spare some time off to fulfill our responsibilities in this regard.
Then there is SACRIFICE, something that is commonly associated when it comes to serving the society. Of course, it is true and I greatly appreciate the likes of Anna Hazare and Medha Patkar for giving their entire lives for the upliftment of people, but if you don’t intend to do that but still wish to contribute in your own little way, then that is something not wrong at all. And I assure you, after having been a part of the activities undertaken by ABC, I haven’t sacrificed anything at all. Not studies, job, family, friends, fun or anything else. All you need to have is the willingness to take up something like this and then the drive to continue doing it. Other practical issues such as finance and funds for bigger projects, the right place to start etc will automatically be eliminated as hindrances.
So now, what exactly can a group of friends do?
1) They can just visit a nearby school which is not in a good state. Talk to the principal and enquire what are the problems that the school children are facing in getting the right education
2) Then you can see where are the places that you can fill in – teaching something I personally don’t advocate being done unless it is a very structures and professional. Else it is of no use. But again if someone believes otherwise
3) Filling in the infrastructure voids is definitely where each one of us can contribute towards. The projects that we have done at ABC are testaments of that. Every year thousands of students, many of them bright and talented, are not able to write their annual exams just because their families can’t afford his/her exam fees. And what’s the cost of the exam fee? A few hundred rupees at max. Can’t we fill in this void to at least ensure kids are able to give their exams? Kids walk bare footed to schools; can’t we provide them with a pair of shoes which hardly costs a 100 bucks but can go a long way in enabling that kid to go to school study and play!
4) Next thing that come to your mind is finance since you can’t provide only one kid with shoes. What if there are about 100 children in the school that doesn’t have shoes which means you need to raise 10k bucks. And I think that shouldn’t be a really big problem either since I don’t think it’s hard to find about 15-20 people in our circle family and friends and in this era of social networking who can contribute 500-1000 buck each to buy these shoes
5) And finally on a very selfish level, there is always this nice feeling of playing your part in nation building. Also it is a great reason for all your friends to meet up more regularly and enjoy even more!!! A definite win-win situation as I see it.
This is what according to me is the power and potential of the youth and friendship in particular. I hope I have made sense in whatever I have jotted down and it appeals to all who read this.