First Published on Facebook – on Friday, March 5, 2010
Inspirational anecdotes are generally motivational and encouraging. And every once in a while, you will actually encounter the real everyday heroes and their authenticity leaves you spellbound.
Each one of us contributes to the world as we know it. Some of us are more conscious of the ripples our thoughts and actions sent outwards, while others continually and gracefully… simply align action with heart. And make the world a better place.
Kamla is a dear family friend and I have had the privilege of seeing the immense compassion, creativity and joy that every member in this family has demonstrated for many years. I am deeply grateful to my parents, as well as hers, for they have inducted values, purpose, thoughtfulness and celebration in our lives.
Kamla is the owner and principal of a small school in Pune and has poured her heart and soul into nurturing the students and staff of this lovely place. Yesterday, I visited Kamla with Shilpa and Sheetal and she began telling us about the early days of her school. This is the story that emerged in the conversation:
During the early days of construction, the school had no grills. But with her characteristic enthusiasm, Kamla purchased some expensive toys, art and craft supplies, etc… and left them in a room. The next morning she discovered that some of the items were missing. She was quite disturbed at this discovery. While walking around the premises, she noticed some of the children of construction workers and other slum dwellers playing in the vicinity. Recognizing the football as one of her own school supplies, she told the boy to return it. His mother came over and angrily argued with Kamla for ‘accusing her boy of stealing’.
Kamla retreated thoughtfully. She had also noticed cigarette butts and alcohol bottles lying on the premises and it seemed apparent that the same children were involved.
In keeping with her natural inclination to do whatever she can for others, Kamla decided that these children would benefit as much from a clean and supportive environment as her own students. With the help of one of her teachers, Sunanda, Kamla began to invite these children’s parents to send their kids over for a couple of hours every evening. They were taught prayers and hymns, basic hygiene and cleanliness and encouraged to participate in art, dance and singing. Gradually, almost twenty of these first and second graders would come over every evening for this unique ‘class’.
Kamla then requested one of the maids to rent her premises for this ‘class’. So this enabled a revenue for the lady and allowed the children to continue meeting. All the school toys and educational material would be carried there, be cleaned after use and brought back to school.
After some time, without the issue ever being raised again, quietly, the missing materials began coming back. Albeit a little torn or worn out from wear and tear. But the missing items came back… wordlessly, on their own.
The children themselves began to take responsibility for the school materials, locking up the room and keeping the key with themselves. They voluntarily began to keep an eye out on the premises as well. This enterprising venture continued for almost two years, until the children moved on to their higher classes. Happier and more responsible than they had been before.
Kamla’s and Sunanda’s loving patience, kindness and compassion…
Rippling out to touch the lives of so many individuals and families.
A reminder to us all… You do make a difference.
Follow your heart.