In the past two weeks I've experienced and witnessed moments of pure joy, compassion, and love. It's hard to describe the feeling of sitting amongst eight hundred underprivileged children jumping, shouting, and dancing in unison to a group of dedicated students. Five events travelling around schools, giving children the opportunity to express creativity and individuality, lead AIESEC of Delhi University to this one final event. I was extremely proud to be involved with this part of India. The people who see that change is necessary and don't waiver in that ideal until they see an impact made. Around eight hundred kids could look at the students who have only just come out of being kids themselves and start to pave a new direction.
As an intern of Project Udaan, which stands for giving Wings to the children, we have been working closely with about twenty to thirty children depending on the day. We were so happy to see "our kids" participating in this final event with such energy and enthusiasm. When the music came on they jumped through the crowd and onto the stage trying to bring us with them. Didi, sister and Buya, brother.. our new names.
The sessions have been a challenge. The fact that we are foreign to their culture leaves us a step behind the knowledge that might give us more direction. In the first few days of being with them, their energy and our inability to control them pushed us down. We slowly recuperated our control but being in a developping country leads to setbacks in all directions. The kids would show up to the session at different times, trickling in as jobs or parents would allow them. We really needed to keep a record of the children but each day the group would grow or shrink. Our lack of Hindi separated us from getting to know them as much as we would like, but they never stopped smiling or trying to get our attention. Translators weren't always present so the setbacks continued. Without a proper venue, we've been working in a fenced in grassyard. I've been calling these setbacks.. but being in India they are not setbacks, these are challenges that we must accept.
We've seen boys hitting and punching eachother, boys hitting girls, children crying, children throwing stones, climbing trees, smoking, and yelling.. yesterday we had to leave the session early because their behaviour was unexpectedly aggressive, but the good in them shines through far more then this behaviour.
In times when everything is in order and all of the children are paying attention it's obvious that they are enjoying themselves. Each day we choose two captains of the day who had shown leadership skills and who are responsible for leading the group out of the yard. Each day we also try to get their feedback about the lessons they had learnt and what they enjoyed. Some days when I hear them speak about how nice it was to work as a team with eachother or how they understood that they shouldn't cheat in a game because it isn't fair or that they just liked everything we did that day, it's truly rewarding.
Some of the children have really stood out to me, showing caring and honest characters. Some moments have also stuck with me. Yesterday there was a goat walking around in the yard (it's not uncommon) and it's legs were tied with a string so it couldn't walk properly. In the past I've seen children throwing things at animals or hitting them, but yesterday the kids worked together to untaggle it's legs. On the second day sitting in groups we asked the children a few questions about their lifestyles and their personalities. We asked the children of our group what they were afraid of and a few boys answered God. When I asked why they said because when they die God will punish them by hitting them and slapping them, taught by their religion. Another day when we were naming the captains a small boy named Useer was named captain and you could see the pride as he stood in front of the group. A few boys shared with everyone that they were happy that we chose him as captain.
It's always hard to watch the kids show up in the same outfits everyday, a little dirtier then the day before. Or to see the scarrs on some of their legs that start from the knee and go down to their ankle, it's obvious that they weren't able to recieve stitches or proper care. Some days a few of the children seem tired or sad, being present but not actually present in the moment with the group. Learning about their potential and their individuality is a huge part of our project, but at times when I see how happy they are to be with us I would gladly drop the rest to be with them for longer. Such a short amount of days here left, I just hope that I can fit them all in my suitcase.