Unawareness was the beginning of it all. Not knowing what was next, not knowing what we were here for? What were these seven days going to be like? Our minds were filled with queries because everything was supposed to be a surprise for us. The journey began with names and branches. The small talks we had regarding what events we had attended and the careful puns so that no one judged us was what got us to Badlapur at Swanandhyog Ashram.
The surprise of Shramdan that waited for us over there was something that no one had expected. We had our patience and strengths tested the very first day. But as the days passed, the activity of Shramdan became a fun topic among us. We started enjoying the fact that we were lending these people a hand in their tough jobs that they were carrying out 365 days of the year.
The responsibility that we held of the tasks around us got us thinking on the motto of putting others before ourselves. We never realized how and when we got used to the way of life at the ashram and did not miss the city even once. We were there with people who we now remember as the best batch mates to have had fun with. They were the reason that made this a great start to the year 2017.
We had company of people other than that of our group – the natives of two villages of Sonavale and Thakurwadi. Meeting with the people of the villages and especially the children there, became a daily routine for us. Every day we spent hours with them, interacting with them and decorating their classes. They were always eager to see us and spend some time with us and so were we. In a way we started respecting them for finding happiness in the little things they had and never complaining. They enjoyed life the way it is supposed to be enjoyed.
We had our contributions extended to the villagers, helping them in any way that we could. For instance, we were successful in building a dam for them so that now they don’t have to go through the trouble of water storage. In many ways this was the most successful and profitable project of our camp. The efforts we had put in, made it a job that we were very much proud of. Whether it was the building of dams, toilets or the execution of a medical camp, we were happy to know that we could contribute.
Those seven days were something that none of us will ever forget. It was never as if we were away from home. We had everything that made us feel right at it, just with a extra set of responsibilities. For instance, where we had provision of the best food one can ask for, we also had the job of helping out in the kitchen, serving everyone and washing our utensils once we were done. This may have surprised our parents but we were on the verge of a new beginning here. We realized that these little changes did not really matter.
We made our presence there worth the while by working through the days towards betterment of the villagers and their life and hoping to make a difference, no matter how small. When we were at the Aadhar Institute (an institution for the mentally challenged), we found out that you can never pity yourself for the way you are. The best thing you can do is give up the self-doubts and get the best out of everything.
The inmates did not know that they were different or special in any way. They were cared for like children, by the Aadhar family that had given most of its life looking after them. The inmates preferred familiar faces but were open to new friendships, they preferred the special way of everything but were open to a dance off with us. This pretty much said that we had got it figured out all wrong. So in the end when we were leaving, Awareness was the end of it all.
Help. Connect. Inspire.