You are in a place where all you can hear is the sound of laughter, not boisterous like the ones that those Clubs do, but the kind that slowly mingles with the wind and penetrates every single soul in the vicinity. The sun takes a backseat when the little angels smile. We went there thinking we would help them so that they could add maximum value to these 3 days, but by the end of it, we were left wondering: Who helped who exactly?
Has it ever happened to you?
You are responsible for 9 kids, 24/7 for 3 days and 2 nights - A statement that would make others sweat their guts out. But not us. We know our kids better than Newton knew calculus, and we knew it's something we wouldn't want to miss for the world. One volunteer couldn't find a kid in his group of 9 children. After 3 frantic minutes when he did, before he could say anything, one of his own children walked up to the kid who was found and went all, "Kyu bhag gaya tha tu? Pata hai sir ko kittni tension ho jati hai? Bina bataye kahin mat jaya kar tu. Sir ko acha nahi lagta." Kids run away, they want to go to the toilet every hour, they throw tantrums by the minute. But then, there are moments like these. We were supposed to take care of these kids, but by the end of it, we were left wondering: who took care of whom exactly?
After spending the entire day running around playing games with the kids, chasing them all over the resort, having 8 kids before a session but running breathlessly to find the missing one, listening to their stories by the bonfire at 11pm. By the end of the second day, one volunteer was left with swollen feet. He couldn't walk properly. The kids wanted to know what was ailing their bhaiya, but would get a "kuch nahi" in return. At night, when they all retired to bed, the kids offered to massage his feet, but that only embarrassed him, and he refused. Not taking a no for an answer, the kids literally pinned him down to bed, 5-6 holding his arms and legs while the rest massaging his feet, till he gave up and let them do it in a civilized way. He had started
feeling better even before the kids had started it. We wanted to heal their inner wounds and assuage the pain, but by the end of it, we were left wondering: who healed who exactly?
At the second day, 8 out of 9 kids were seated at the table for lunch. But the volunteer did a count before entering the hall - there were 9 kids inside the hall. He had to help the kids observe table etiquettes, make sure they don't overload their plates, teach them how to use a fork, but for that, he wanted all of them at the table. He got back empty-handed only to find that one kid standing at the table, with a plate of food in his hand. "Sir abhi tak aapne humein khana khilaya. Aaj main aapko khilata hun.' We wanted to ensure that the kids get what they truly deserve in these 3 days, but by the end ofi t, we were left wondering: who deserved what exactly?
At the end of it all, when a volunteer was dropping his kids off at their shelter home, they all got out of the cab. Almost as if synchronized, the kids stopped 10 feet from the main gate, put down their bags and stopped. The volunteer, confused, wondered what had happened. Before he could ask anything, a kid slowly went up to him and hugged him, wrapping his arms around his waist. Then another and another...until all the 9 kids were hugging and clinging to him. No one said a word, but the silence was comforting. The kids held back the tears because they didn't want to enter the shelter home after 3 days with tears in their eyes. The volunteer held back the tears because tears wouldn't do justice to those 3 days. We wanted to change their lives in those 3 days, but by the end of it, we were left wondering: who changed whose life exactly?
- Praneet Saxena
Guest Writer and Volunteer at Make A Difference