On September 5th, while celebrating the Teacher Day in India, the staff at ILSC-New Delhi visited a slum along with around 20 students who volunteered their time to teach English/Hindi to children there. There were about 35-40 children living in the area who gathered in a tiny room with dim lights and no fan in the scorching heat to study.
In preparation for this visit, ILSC-New Delhi did a fundraiser and collected stationary (pencils, notebooks, and colored pencils), storybooks, text books in English and Hindi, and fruits (Bananas and Apples) to give to the children.
Here are some thoughts on the experience from Priyanka Gupta, ILSC- New Delhi’s CSR Coordinator, who has been working for several years helping children living in slums:
A few years ago, I made a decision to work for the children who struggle every day to scrounge some bits of food to fill the unquenchable hole of hunger. In these slums, food is the first priority, safety is the second, lodging is the third and education is an afterthought.
I am always thrilled to be there to make even a small difference, and to try to solve the problems of poverty. Certainly, the harsh realities of the venue made me somewhat uncomfortable, but I knew that anything was possible and I could let that discomfort go. I would just apply a well-tested practice of assessing the problems, and then design and apply solutions and all would be well. Idealism at its best!
Yesterday, our visit to one of the slums in New Delhi was an overwhelming experience. It was not the first time for me, but each time I see these children my heart melts. The children looked at me with wonderful joy and huge smiles; some sat on the edge of the circle looking uncertain and a bit scared and subdued. I knew that I was looking into the eyes of many who had suffered unimaginable abuse of all kinds in their very short lives.
These children are not victims; they were strong and had already endured so much more than most of us would in a lifetime. They had survived, still loving and trusting ‘the other,’ who came into their midst. Their innocence was almost palpable and was their maturity and wisdom.
I clutch close to my heart the memory of that little ritual of patting their tiny, scarred heads and how they had reciprocated by soulfully looking into my eyes, not asking, not expecting anything except the connection of one human to another.