Philanthropy, volunteering, social service – these words never quite attracted my attention-
Until, two years back!
It was a beautiful Thursday, like the one with heavy clouds, darkening atmosphere overloaded with fresh aroma of wet mud; everything in place to welcome the august rains! And what better, we had a decently long gap from 11:30 to 12:45 to revel in this showery weather. My first year had just begun, and there were a plethora of hangout places to be explored in and around LSR. And it was just the perfect day to do that! Pepped up with excitement, I broke the plan to my dear comrade only to have it soured in its nascent stage. “Oh, absolutely no, not today!” she said. “Today, it is the NSS orientation during the special assembly. We can’t miss it by any chance.” As little aware that I was, I asked her to elucidate the entire NSS thingy, wherein I learnt that in order to get our degree at the end of the third year we had to complete a set of 120 hours of NSS/NCC/NSO. And since the latter two were nowhere closer to being my cup of cappuccino, NSS it was- which we HAD TO DO!
As I walked into one of those events which witnessed a swarming audience, those few steps inside the auditorium that day changed my life- for the good? For the finest thing that could have ever happened to me. As the orientation unfolded, we were informed about the various NGOs that LSR was working in coordination with. Education to the economically weaker sections like Koshish, to the specially abled people : Tamana and Muskan, cancer society: ICS, Naz for AIDS, Aashirwaad for the aged and Friendicoes for the pets, these were just at the tip of the iceberg. My heart instantly went to Tamana, having witnessed the neglect differently abled children suffer, from very close. And so, having given it my first preference, and after completing all the formalities, I came out. Life resumed as usual for a few days, and then finally one day, while I was constantly checking my watch, for the never ending micro eco lecture to end, I received a text, saying, I had been chosen as a volunteer at Tamana. I was happy, I was excited, and more than anything else, it filled me with a new energy- a very positive one.
A week later, I began visiting the NGO- Nai Disha : Tamana, it was called – a vocational centre and a boys hostel, a home for very special children. And yes, after my first visit, I was convinced that I was , rather the special one who was chosen, amongst many of my peers to be of help there. It filled me with content, for the first time I was proud of the fact that I was doing something good. Those two hours at the centre, teaching the kids and playing with them, made me forget all my minuscule worries, which in front of those optimistic and vivacious kids was too small to be even termed as a worry.
My “official” two years of service, one as a volunteer and later as the project head, gave me a bunch of very cherished memories, like Anmol rushing to me and showing what he had made at school, or Aditya asking unfailingly for candyman, and the most prized of all, walking in the centre and being greeted overwhelmingly as “Hello Anusha Ma’am!” And all kids rushing towards me for an energetic handshake.
Not very long ago, I came across this line by Shantideva,
“All happiness comes from the desire for others
to be happy, all misery comes from the desire for oneself to be happy.”
And having witnessed all my miseries being washed away by desiring the happiness of these kids, I am only left to bask in this spectacular aspect of Social Service.