Gratitude- learnings from a 20 year old slum kid

slumschool2Dingy streets. Poorly planned area with bad sanitation. Screeching heat. A resettlement slum colony. No tangible resources. But thousands of hopes. Bright smiles. Children as leaders. This is what the village of Bawana offered me.  That one day at district of Bawana has been glued in my memory forever. For that one day made me exceptionally happy, hopeful, and above all the people, the kids there have inspired me immensely.

As a part of my internship at Navjyoti India Foundation, I visited the area to understand the Bal Gurukul system that has been established there by the foundation. As it turned out to be, I learnt and understood way more than that.  I just want to share one of the many stories that touched my heart.

At the Foundation’s office at Bawana village, I saw a young man, Rajat (Name changed) talking to, rather guiding a bunch of kids from the basti who had just cleared heir 12th exams.  He told them about the importance of learning computers, about volunteering and how important education is. I thought he might be one the people or teachers working at the office. His confidence, his ease was really inspiring. When I started talking to him, I was pleasantly surprised to know that he is one of the kids from the slums who had got admission in a good engineering college in Chennai. He had come to Delhi and was helping other kids from his basti with their college admissions and all.

As I continued the conversation, Rajat never failed to surprise me. He was just like us- me and you. His confidence, his simplicity and his passion won me over completely. A very humble guy, he must have thanked Navjyoti Foundation more than 10 times. He kept on asserting how his parents couldn’t ever afford Rs 500 a month for his education and it’s only because of the Foundation that he is there. That attitude of gratitude was beautiful, simply beautiful.

After sometime I asked him about his future plans after completing his engineering in Computer Science. It was natural that he would have taken a well-paying job in a big company. He needed to break the shackles of poverty. But what he said were the most beautiful words I have ever heard. ‘’I will take a job or a few years. But after I have stabilized my family, I am going to come back to Bawana and teach other kids like me. I want them to become doctors, engineers, artists. Maine is community se, Navjyoti se, khaali liya hai, ab mujko dena bhi hai (I have just taken and taken from the community. I want to give back to the community, to the society)” As soon as I heard this, I had thick tears in my eyes. It was a slap on my face- showed me how petty I am, despite having dreams of changing the world, a strong financial background, my thoughts are not half as pure as his, my dreams don’t even come close to the selfless ones of Rajat.

The rest of the conversation is blur as I was busy fighting back my tears. But in the end all I could say was how great it was meeting him and wish him luck for his future.

In times when we don’t even feel  gratitude towards our parents, Rajat’s words, his determination, his gratitude towards his community came in as a breath of fresh air. He doesn’t have fancy awards and fame, but what he is doing and plans to do for the society is indeed beautiful.  I realized that we need people like him. We need to build a culture where people learn to give back. Thank you Rajat, for inspiring me, for making me push myself harder, for making me want to do more and become more, for making me want to become as selfless and beautiful as you.

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