Today we took approximately sixty or seventy young children on a field trip to Kankaria Lake for a field trip. This man made lake has a little train that loops around it, it's set up alongside a zoo, and has an array of food vendors and tiny carnival rides nearby. It's like a very mini theme park for kids.
This is absolutely one of my highlights of volunteering. Every child showed up to school in their finest attire. There Sunday best. Their only nice dress. Every child's hair was done. Girls wore brightly colored traditional Indian saris, wraps, and skirts. Boys had clean hands and slicked down hair. Reflecting on this day makes my heart swell and slightly ache at the same time. They are all so pure and so innocent and know nothing of the world outside of their slum. This was THE biggest day of their life so far.
We walked through several turns of the slums to get the kids out to the main road where the bus was. Every child just grinning because of their well groomed get up. On the bus the teachers do everything they can to make it THE most exciting day of the kids lives. They are singing and chanting and encouraging screaming through the tunnels. The bus driver was pissssed off. Hahaha. The teachers and local volunteers here really have something special. They have this extra energy. This added effort. This completely conscious ability to make every moment about bringing happiness out of these children.
When Zach and I got interviewed for volunteering at Manav Sadhna, honestly I felt a bit guilty about it. Maybe guilt is not the correct word. But I felt something. I felt like what I have done is not at all substantial compared to what many of these four, six, and twelve month volunteers have done. I felt that what I had committed was petty compared to the heart and effort some of these people have put into these centers. I felt that we got all this praise and attention and the people who live this day in and day out are unseen.
On the bus, on the train at the park, at the playground, I felt like those kids deserved a little bit more. A little bit more of my efforts that I just didn't know how to bring out of me.
We talked about this in our weekly volunteer meeting. Or I did. All the volunteers get together every Friday, we pray, meditate, and reflect on the week. We sit in a circle and each person shares something. What I shared this week was that when I got here I told Zach one month wouldn't be enough. I wasn't sure how you could make an influence in one month. How can you really teach something profound in just one month? How can you change someone, motivate someone, spark a fire in someone, in just one month? And I remembered... "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." - Mother Teresa
I admire and commend the teachers, staff, and volunteers of Ahmedabad. They are changing lives. One small influence at a time.
There is no place like this on earth. I'm confident of that.