Wednesday, August 20, 2008

28 children across 4 slums admitted in NMMC School, Aiorli

Hi friends,

No adjectives will be able to describe the happiness which we all have experienced today (or rest of you will experience in a while).
20 KIDS ACROSS 3 SLUM-AREAS GOT ADMITTED TO A SCHOOL WHERE BESIDES EDUCATION THEY WILL ALSO GET 1-TIME MEAL, BOOKS, UNIFORM, RAINCOAT AND ALL BASIC NECESSITIES THAT A STUDENT NEEDS.

19th August,
we received the 20 affidavits from our new friend Vandana (Advocate) and then passed on this good news to all the parents.

20th August:
Energy was definitely at its peak but still I could feel some nervousness that how will I manage so many parents and kids in the school together. Will all of them come? What if not? What if late? What if they defected? Etc.
But Frankly speaking, today I really feel blessed. There definitely is some power always by my side that pulls me out of the woods…. at least in this project :-)
Our efforts for convincing at least one parent to be present on the 1st day did fructify. This was the first stress-buster! Though one defaulted but she made sure that her comrade (relative-cum-neighbor) takes care of her kids. So we deliriously made the parents sign-off the affidavits.
However this exhilaration was hit by the impending storm and consequent pain when one of them sadly reported about the refusal of one family to send their 2 kids to the school. I mean, how can these happen? Just yesterday night I had personally spoken to the parents of the kids (Lakshmi and Krishna). Both sounded encouraging and excited about this process. Then what caused this revulsion?
Fortunately, Arun made up to the time (halfway from his office!) and that too luckily with his colleague’s bike, so we could rush immediately to that slum to unravel the mystery. Finding the 2 kids roaming around and their mother lying lazily and chatting with her friends, I couldn’t control my anger and simply went rant and rave on her. But the bitter truth of her predicament made us realize that there’s always the other side of the coin and that it should be turned to get the complete picture. I felt ashamed of my ruthless behavior towards her after listening to her problem.
She’s close to 9 months pregnant and probably the only ‘responsible’ parent of their 3 kids (Krishna, Lakshmi and a 2-year old). Her husband is a drunkard, notorious for shirking his responsibilities. He, now, wants her to go to his native place for her delivery and obviously this helpless lady can’t keep her kids on their father’s drooping shoulders. Strangely, this guy cajoles her wife of getting the kids admitted to the school there itself.
But all of us are (and even this diffident woman is) not unfamiliar of the credibility of the words of a drunkard. For some time her anecdote left us totally flustered because there was no one here (she doesn’t trust her husband) in Mumbai to take care of their kids during her hospitalization (and post-hospitalization) period.
Have any solution? We didn’t have at that time and so we directed her to press her thumb on the affidavits and while leaving, asked her to immediately come to the school with the kids. Fear of defection again crept into our mind and we took a u-turn, made the 2 kids seated on the bike and asked their mother to be present at 1 pm in the school to complete the formality.
We could manage the admission of 20 kids in less than 15 days. Great coup! But definitely not coup de grace. The fear of Defection still haunts us as experienced on the first day, today, itself, as shared by Dream India with us. We are still walking on the tight rope. Fruition is still the long way. I can still recollect the teacher grumbling about these kids as ‘to-be-defaulters’, these parents’ enthusiasm as an ‘ephemeral’ emotion. But then I challenged her who’s she to predict all this before-hand? We are there with these kids to assist them and we are there with their parents to shepherd them. Was I wrong? Was I over-reacting?
No! Perhaps because we have cleared part of this journey and each event, each interaction, each setback has taught us a new lesson. By getting their kids to the school we have circumvented our first milestone—that of decreasing the ‘emotional distance’ between these underprivileged people and us. Now we are in a better position to be heard.
Remember the mail Varun had sent us nicely painting out the road-map. It’s the correct time to tread on it now. Sustainability is the key-word. So we need to timely and rightly harness these opportunities now. So that, as once exemplified by Sankara Iyer in his email earlier, these zealous efforts don’t go futile; this arduous achievement doesn’t become part of the history in 3-4 months.
Some of you reading this mail may feel that we have not done any worthwhile or any contribution in this project. You are wrong! I know what I have gained from each one of you. I can justify my statement but some feelings get tarnished when expressed. Each one of you is an ‘active’ core team-member or leader of this project. It may be just that till now you didn’t get some time to mull over it a bit. It’s completely fine. All of you have all the four necessary qualities- Passion, Energy, Courage and Commitment. But dear friends, now this project commands your fourth trait to be more dominant.
Let’s surge ahead and show that this admission process was not just any hasty step but a crucial planned door-opener for our project.
Plz spare some time to look at the 2 photo folders attached with this mail. It will speak out 2 u what no one can!

Photos : http://picasaweb.google.co.in/lead.airoli/1stDayOfSchool#



Kudos to everyone!
Rupesh

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