By Shivani Sridharan, FHI Chennai
One quiet evening I received a “Follow” request from the Fly Higher India – FHI NGO in India (@flyhigherindia) page on Instagram. As it was in the nature of other NGO pages I follow, I accepted it. Little did I know, the impact that click was going to make. I registered with them the following week and was immediately added to a WhatsApp group. There were active talks regarding an event and I didn’t pay much heed. Back then, it was yet another group I would probably “mute” in a month or two. That’s when Vishal (Founder) and Preetham (National Co-ordinator) arranged a call with us. They were a couple of the most easy and cheerful people I have spoken to. Their excitement got me infected and made me see the unique and genuineness of the FHI concept. When I probed on what they did, Vishal calmly replied “We spread smiles among the underprivileged children”; “Is that not what almost all NGOs do?!” I remember ignorantly thinking to myself. I did not know Vishal meant what he said quite literally!
The next couple of weeks breezed by. I was a fellow Coordinator for Chennai and we were soon making calls to a lot of different schools and orphanages, visiting them, interacting with like-minded strangers; all of which were alien to me. But, every single time I needed help, every time I felt like I lost control, I had with me Vishal, Preetham and Aravindan (my fellow Chennai coordinator) to talk me back to good spirits. Juggling a full time job and FHI responsibility was not easy but definitely possible.
Then dawned 18th of Feb. ‘18, and with it, FHI Chennai’s first event – Rang De. It lasted for 4 to 5 hours and with no exaggeration, I can say that day changed my perspective towards humanity and the existence of unadulterated love. We were at a school with 72 girls between the age groups of 6 and 21 years. We had with us 16 volunteers. There was so much learning and development for me that day. Volunteers came as a family, as a couple of friends; all of whom chose this way to spend their sunny, Sunday afternoon.
And of course the girls, our little sunshines, they brought all of us together. They broke the bridges of awkwardness between us and the ones that remained, Vishal and Preetham set fire to! They made the entire group work as one. True to its name, Rang De was one of the most colorful days I have witnessed in every way.
Vishal & Preetham gave me goals for life; their level of ease with the children is something I will strive to have.
It was quick 4 hours which involved a lot of talking, standing, walking and bending (to hear the children speak), but it did not tire me out half as much as the corporate job I did in my cushioned chair and AC office. I danced, I walked the ramp, I did everything I never have, but it was one afternoon where every comfort zone I broke out of was welcomed with cheers, smiles, laughter, hugs and love.
Inside me, that day, I quietly pledged to be a part of and work with FHI as much as I could; Inside me, that day, was happiness and love; And forever, inside me will remain every minute of that sunny Sunday afternoon.