Reach Out

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There’s so much more to life than just working and chilling out. Use some of your time to give back to the world that keeps giving you so much

We’re either working long hours or relaxing with a few beers in hand. It rarely occurs to us to go out and do something that doesn’t benefit us at all. It could be something as small as spending some time with an elderly neighbor who lives alone to planting trees in your locality. Some schools and colleges have incorporated community service into their extra-curriculum in recent times. But more often than not, we engage in the activity to get the necessary certification rather than really wanting to reach out.
Winston Churchill said,” We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Community service is more than just giving off your old clothes to the poor or signing a cheque as a donation to a foundation. All of that is good, no doubt, but money is not going to save our dwindling environment or make an orphan feel loved.
We belong to the fortunate strata of society and sadly, it’s a very small portion of the populace. Among other things we take for granted, a good home to go back to, a sumptuous meal on our tables every night and the education that’s provided for us are the one’s that top the list. When we are given so much, it’s very easy to overlook those that aren’t so blessed. It doesn’t occur to us that maybe there’s a child out there struggling to read under the street light after a day of toiling for his family. Or that maybe the family which huddles together to sleep on a single mat near your parking lot must have gone without food tonight.
So you get my point. There’s so much ill-fortune in the world out there and we so easily drift by turning a blind eye to everything around. If you’re not already a part of something that doesn’t involve only self-indulgence, then go out there and look for something you could apply yourself to. There’s tons of organizations that help with education for street children, like Aakansha and Teach for India. If you don’t think you’d be good at that, then get hold of your friend circle and visit an old age home once a month. You could also help out with litter campaigns or if you can manage a few days off, then sign yourself up for a rural camp. Even something fun like playing football or cricket with the street kids in your area.
Service in itself is about moving out of oneself to connect with another. Taking some time out to do this will enhance your life in ways you wouldn’t think of. Reaching out to the world is something that every single one of us can and must do.
We talk to Romana Shaikh, Director of Training and Impact at Teach for India on what got her interested, her experiences and how to get the community as a whole involved in service.

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What inspired you to join Teach for India?

During my years at St. Xavier’s college, the 26/11 terror attack struck. At that time, people began discriminating Muslims and blaming them for the attacks. Even the people around me in college had similar opinions and judged the sect relentlessly. That’s when I realized that the people who were trained to carry out these attacks knew no better. They were taught to strike and kill and that was their primary education. That’s when I realized the importance of education in someone’s life and how it shapes the person they are and who they turn out to be. TFI was introduced to us in college and I joined as a fellow for 2 years and got involved and grown more so in the following years.

How has your experience been working with the kids at TFI?
During my two years of fellowship, I realized that I love being a teacher. Over the past three years as a part of staff, I realized that being a teacher is everything. I don’t understand manager, coach, teacher, leader as separate things, for me it’s just teaching. At TFI, I got a chance to do more than just teach the kids and go back home. I got to meet their parents and visit their home and really see what poverty feels like. I got to understand the various problems they faced. We have social involvement programs in schools and colleges, but it doesn’t really give us a complete insight to what’s going on below the surface. At TFI, I had a bigger realization of the discrimination that is still prevalent.

Can you stress the need for community service among the youth and how can they be encouraged to be a part of it?
I wouldn’t call it community service but more like getting involved and really getting to know what’s happening in our society. The population is growing by the day and with it, poverty and corruption at multiple levels. We need to start by changing our lives in order to someday bring a change in the world. We need to start caring about each other and just moving out of ourselves and getting involved in the life of someone not as fortunate as you. We need to be empathetic to the lives of others. We are literate and yet insensitive, knowledgeable and yet we don’t understand the challenges faced in our community. We need to realize how privileged we are in the way we are and unprivileged we are in the way we are. We need to be mobilized to take action. The country needs to be made aware of the problems being faced and also about all the avenues that are available for them to reach out and help.

 

Volume 5 Issue 6

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