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Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Collective Effort - Sporsho - Madhuban Mukherjee

“…A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

These lines from William H. Davies’ poem “Leisure” rightly describe our life these days. We are too busy making a livelihood for ourselves to care much about anything under the sun, although there are times when we are troubled by the misery around us and feel a severe urge to eradicate them all. However, our busy lifestyle pulls us back into the same monotonous vortex and we leave the task for the NGOs to accomplish. What we don’t come to know about is there are many struggling NGOs with great thoughts and initiatives but lack support. Wouldn’t it be just wonderful if we could get associated with any of these struggling NGOs and make their dreams ours! This thought led to the foundation of Sporsho in 2008. But like any other NGO, Sporsho had to go through its share of struggles and could actively start contributing only in 2012.
Sporsho or “the touch” aims at supporting existing NGOs like Rainbow Homes, Aman Vedika and Cheers Foundation in their noble endeavor of improving the lives of orphaned children.

I am privileged to be a part of Sporsho for two years now. Every quarter, we pay a visit to one of these homes. We deliberately limit our reach to a handful of needy NGOs as we believe in consistent qualitative growth of a few over a scattered quantitative approach. We also do not believe in monetary contributions. A week prior to the visit, we collect all the requirements given to us by these NGOs.

My favourite part of being associated with Sporsho is the day of the visit. As soon as we enter through the gates of the home, we are welcomed by a bubbly bunch of kids. They don’t hesitate in holding our hands, their “Akka-s” & “Anna-s”, as they guide us to a gathering. We sit with the kids as they introduce themselves; each of them echoing the same standard format, probably taught to them by their teacher, “I am ____. I study in ____. I want to be ___”.  One can also make out that every single kid in the room is in their best dress for this much anticipated meet, their eyes beaming with excitement as they share a giggle, or nudge each other with their elbows.  One look around the room would fill anyone with unfathomable hope, ambition and happiness. Minutes into the interaction, and the singers and dancers amongst them can be easily identified; one request is all it takes to make them perform. And who wouldn’t love to watch such enthusiastic kids perform, who share such a strong bond among each other? All this only makes one want to become a child again. When it is time for us to leave, all the kids come to us individually and say, “sister, please come again”. While we smile and nod our heads, we say to ourselves,”Sure, wouldn’t miss it for anything!” Their innocent smiles are our takeaway for the day. And our attachment and bonding with them are a promise for a better tomorrow!

Talking about childhood, stories constitute a big part in everyone’s existence. Be it stories that we read or stories that are told to us by our parents or grandparents. Today I am reminded of one such story. I am sure most of us have heard this or a modified version. Here’s how it goes:

Once upon a time, there lived a very virtuous man who was loved by all. Impressed with his philanthropic activities God thought of granting him a wish. So He goes to the man and tells him, “I gift you with the most beautiful kingdom on earth. You get the best of everything there. However, you can stay there only for 2 years, and after that you have to spend the rest of your life in the most chaotic kingdom in the world.” The man accepted the gift humbly and became the king of the most beautiful kingdom in the world. He was mesmerized by the near ideal place and began living there happily with his wife. Two years passed and it was time for him to go to the most chaotic kingdom in the world. But he didn’t seem one bit disturbed with the thought. He packed his bag and left for that kingdom. Upon reaching, his wife was surprised to see another kingdom even more beautiful than the one they were living in. She was convinced that they made a mistake and asked her husband, “Did we lose our way?” To which her husband smiled and replied, “No, my dear! Since I was told I have to come here after 2 years, I used my influence and power to make this kingdom even more beautiful!”

So often we lack the foresight the king had. We have at some point or the other told ourselves, ‘I wish I did better then!’ We have experienced and learnt. But what’s better, experience and learn or learn to not experience?
Every time I visit the kids at their NGO-run homes, I ensure that they have a merry time. However, I can’t help but think that all of them will once have to leave the security and comfort of these homes and make a living for themselves. I encourage them to make the best of all opportunities and prepare themselves for the world that awaits them outside the walls.

I feel it’s our collective duty to help improve the lives of less privileged. And especially for the kids, apart from providing for their material requirements, we also have a responsibility to teach them life’s lessons and open up their minds.

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