He is one of the brightest kids I teach. Annirudh, who is in 4th grade right now aspires to be a scientist. He dreams of traveling into space and creating things that will serve the mankind. He also holds a trenchant interest in photography and bribes me with his million dollar smile every time I bring a camera so that I let him click pictures. As far as his photography is concerned, he is an avid learner. He is naughty but keen, playful but doubtful. And he is my favorite of the lot.
Every weekend after teaching Annirudh and others, I am reminded of how grateful life has been to me. How blessed I am because to some, life hasn’t been that kind.
The place you see is a classroom built in a shelter home. To that smile, to that zeal of learning is a haunting past. Annirudh is one of those million kids who are not blessed enough to have parental support which also is one of the several reasons as to why they end up in a shelter home or orphanage. Life has undoubtedly been harsh on them. Some were found in dustbins while some were left on the streets just because they were thought to be misfits. And the stories don’t end. There are thousands of children like these who share the same fate. They end up being a beggar or work to survive in places like tea stalls. Of all the millions that die daily, some get a little lucky to get a shelter.
And while growing in the shelter, some of these children develop a passion. A passion to succeed and make a difference.
Notice a girl sitting in the row next to Annirudh? She is Fatima. One day, I asked Annirudh and Fatima along with four other children of my class to think about what they wanted to become when they grow up. Then I asked them to write their dream on a paper and put it in what we called ‘The Dream box’ . After a week, I opened the box and started reading their dreams. What Fatima wrote not only surprised me, but also transformed the way I look at things. She wrote ” When I grow up, I want to become a teacher. When I become a teacher I will help poor kids and give them money and clothes. And only this much is my dream”. In a jiffy, I smiled and started contemplating on what I wanted to become when I was a couch potato in 4th grade. I wanted to be rich and famous. And then, here’s Fatima who wants to change the world.
Similar to most of us, these kids have dreams. And some of them like Fatima, have bigger dreams. But not all of them get the wings.
Some of the major reasons are lack of love and care, a constant parental support and a healthy community. It’s said that in a child’s education school plays 30% of the role while the community plays the rest. And except some, most of us don’t even feel the need to be responsible for the children around us. Which is saddening and disastrous!
So how do we change all that? What’s the need of the hour? Well, everything starts with a step. A single step that can change the way we look at things. Now, It is time that we – out of our busy schedules- realize our responsibilities and help in supporting the children at risk by mentoring/teaching, providing platforms to extract their talents, by supporting them financially or the least, by letting them know that no matter what, the world is still an awesome place with good people around who are watching them and that, they love and care for them.
When they love you, they make sure they jump on you. All at once!
If you feel what I feel, don’t just go away after reading this. I want you to be responsible. I want you to go find your Annirudh and play with him. I want you to dance with him, educate him and be his hero.
Because dear reader, being someone’s hero is the best job in the world.
Until next time