By Debarupa Biswas, FHI Kolkata
The story of human intimacy is to constantly allow ourselves to see the people around us in a new, more fractured light. I always grew up with the idea of loving pain. Or being accustomed to pain, that is. A few of my favourite novelists always had me convinced that it was all real. I never hunted for answers, I simply believed. My decision to join FHI was mostly an afterthought to cope with this depression which, I believed would soothe my mind and work as a therapy and help me in believing that amidst all the chaos, there is a world that can bring people together. A world that can uplift individuals by making people realise that we are all in this together.
I’ve interacted with a lot of street and destitute children in the last few months, but nothing would’ve prepared me for my first experience as a volunteer in FHI.
19th August, 2018: It was a cold, rainy afternoon. Rain to me has always signified the start of something new. Like the patter of rain on a windowsill, which brings in the idea that amidst all the pain, anguish and suffering, everything will be okay: that exactly was how my first experience in FHI was. The sparkle in the children’s eyes, when I greeted them made me contemplate everything I was and wanted to be when I was their age. Considering Raksha Bandhan was also around the corner, the volunteers along with the children had to make rakhis to signify the bond of protection and care in each other’s lives. We also had an empowering talk session on the importance of environmental conservation and the impact of global warming in our lives. Fierce, uninhibited and promising, these kids made me relish to every extent, the idea of being united, which can only come with the joy of just being there for each other and standing up for each other when the rest of the world does not. For years I wasn’t sure where I stood, but just being in their presence made me feel beautiful. They shared their stories, told me whom they’ve always looked up to, opened up to me, danced and sang with me, and made me feel like I was very much a part of their world. Sometimes it’s also just a big deal to know that there are people who’ve been through a lot too and to listen to everything you feel (and cannot fathom into words yourself) in one meeting, is just overwhelming. For all this and more, I shall always remain grateful. I cannot thank Don Bosco Ashalayam, Howrah enough for having us and organising this event.
Everyday there are acts of kindness that we don’t notice, because we’re too busy pointing out what’s wrong with the world. But if you take a step back, you’ll see beauty in the smallest of things. And that’s exactly what every event of Fly Higher India has meant to me since then.
There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention: victims of hunger, of racism, and political persecution, children being forced to absorb the oppression that the society has compelled them to look forward to, writers and poets, prisoners in so many lands governed by the Left and by the Right. Human rights are being violated on every continent. More people are oppressed than free.
There is so much to be done, there is so much that can be done. One person, one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one child is hungry or is filled with pain, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.