Opinion |Siddha Murada
Summers give us a break from our routine life. Till now, summers meant vacation, to go out with family and relax and chill with friends. But as we grow old, I believe that the meaning of summer vacations changes. There is a set of planning that begins much before the summer break itself; and the name of the game is “Internship”. I was also offered to look into one such internship with an organization that works on a social cause. For a school going student, there are no advertised internships; so we started hunting for a places that can offer me good experience to work on a social cause.
I often wondered why I am guided towards doing an internship by my parents. Is it trending? Is it because some credit that may help in the college application which is still two years away? Is it that they want me to look at the some of the challenges that some people live with? Do they want to make me feel thankful and humble for the life I have got? Or all of it.
With these questions in mind, some excitement coupled with a bit of anxiety I had started to plan my summer break and this year it was a mixture of learning on-ground and learning through a course with peers from similar age group.
For one month, I went to an organization based in Tilak Nagar in Delhi called Inspiration. It is a non-profit organization for specially-abled people. There were people from almost all age groups. From the age of 6 till the age of 30. They had several problems such as Autism, learning difficulty and others. Many of them were from a poor background, so could not afford to get treatments done.
I was discovering a completely new side about myself, I had never imagined that I would be developing faculties in me to communicate with the children who are different from most of us.
In the start, my focus had become to increase their IQ Levels, but soon I realized that my main focus should not be that. They wanted to have fun, and I wanted them to learn and help them as much as I could.
After talking to people who were in the education stream and reading articles, I came up with several activities which would my purpose as well as make them to enjoy and have fun!
The favourite of everyone was ‘Between the Lines’. In this game, I would draw two lines, with a gap of one hand span and make them walk between it. It was a tough game for them as their body coordination was not properly functional. It had different levels and this game helped in making their body coordination better.
I had once read a quote; “Pain is Pain. Broken is Broken. Fear is the biggest disability of all. And it will paralyze you more than being on a wheelchair”. Meeting these people, I understood what the quote actually meant. The people there fought their difficulty! They worked hard and did whatever they could to help themselves. Many of them also participate in ‘Special Olympics’. Inspiration inspired me to do better, and fight my weakness.
I attended a five day programme put together by ‘The Big Red Group’. In this workshop, Harvard students came and conducted several activities. This workshop was about leadership and entrepreneurship. The five days were really enlightening and gave me an exposure to a completely different world. There were teenagers from different cities but most were from Delhi who had come to attend the workshop. The teenagers were really creative, each one talented in their own spectrums.
On the last two days, we were supposed to form a group on similar interests and make a presentation which would be presented in front of all the parents, our Harvard mentors and The Big Red Group team.
I was very unclear about what to join as I had an idea of mine too but as individual projects were not allowed, I had to join a group. One of our Harvard mentors suggested that I should join the mental health group as my idea could be clubbed up with theirs.
I was shocked to see sixteen likeminded teenagers. We decided to split ourselves onto two groups and work together. Our objective was mental health awareness whereas the other group focused on types of mental health problems.
We were eight different, diverse teenagers put together. Each one of us had amazing ideas but had to let go of some of them as we had only 10 minutes to present ourselves.
Our team is called मनSA (MANSA). which means feelings and emotions in our mother language Hindi whereas SA stands of society. Our aim is to reach out the urban as well as rural areas in and near Delhi. We planned our budget and made social media accounts to spread awareness. In the coming future, we plan to conduct workshops in schools where not only the students but also the teachers get to know the problems. After some research, we came up with points in which people could get over stress, anxiety and depression through natural methods.
We h ave been posting several things on social media and we also have been to two community radio stations in the Mewat region, called Radio Mewat and Alfaz-E-Mewat. We went live on air got calls from the villagers asking us how they could help us, मनSA grow. A counsellor from Rajbala Foundation had accompanied us to the radio stations and was really helpful. We grew really fond of him and his knowledge. My future will also be मनSA’s future. My team and I really would like to bring out a change and work on मनSA despite all the examination and difficulty that will come our way. We have also been working on an application for android phones only. We will make need funders to launch the application. If the application is a success, then we also plan to offer it to the ios. The application to a simple one which is made by one of team members itself!
Having activities like this to do throughout summer was exciting and engaging. It was a memorable summer I had afters years.