By Barkha Jain, FHI Surat
It all began one fine morning while I was attending a lecture at college and my mind popped up with existential and spiritual questions. As I sat in quest of answers for these questions, my fingers made their way to Instagram and as though they had a mind of their own, typed #ngosurat and boom! I realised that I had unknowingly made the best decision of my life. This is how Fly Higher India – FHI came into my life, and gave it a purpose I had been seeking.
The past few depressing months in my life had my heart clinging to every place it could find peace. I quickly filled the form and signed up for volunteering with FHI?
It was the thought of seeing kids smile, and doing my bit in providing them with the hope of a happy and a better tomorrow, kept me motivated every day. I realised that gathering volunteers was not as difficult as I had imagined it would be. I got in touch with my friends regarding this programme who further contacted their friends and in no time standing before me was a small FHI family of 11 volunteers, which is now growing. I was soon made the City Coordinator.
Our first event was at ‘Disha: The Foothpath School, Surat’. It was around 3.30 pm when we (volunteers) met at the pre-decided site to gather the necessary requirements for the event. We left for our destination together.
As soon as we reached the School, the kids came running towards us. Amongst them was a little girl who came towards me, hugged me and said while looking up at me – “Didi aap aagaye!” (Didi, you finally arrived). That sparkle in her eyes and that compassion with which she greeted me, I was left speechless. I had never experienced such raw emotions previously. It was ‘LOVE’, love at first site.
A mother always loves her child selflessly and unconditionally. My mother would frequently tell me that I will understand and value a mother’s affection, only when I become one. But it was this day that the little girl made me experience selfless, unadulterated love for someone. At that moment, all I knew was that I was prepared to do anything that would preserve her happiness, and was not expecting anything in return and that, my friend, is ‘Love’ in its purest and most tender form. It is the kind of love we all crave for.
We only had a limited 2-2.5 hours at hand for the event (the School being a footpath school that operates only in the evening), but I can say with assurance that those few hours were the most exquisite and unforgettable moments we spent with the kids. We danced, sang, painted, shared laughter and hugs, made new friends, and most importantly – ‘LEARNT’.
I learnt that no matter from whichever place you belong, however big your problems may be, whatever may be the situation you are dealing with, however harsh your life is, ‘NEVER’, I reiterate, NEVER lose hope. Although those kids lived in slums, faced plenty of challenges in their life and hardly have the resources to make use of even the miniscule opportunities coming their way, the kind of contentment they had with life was priceless. They neither had complaints nor demands. We taught them scholastic lessons but in return received valuable life lessons from them.
They are a bunch of talented kids who dance, sing and paint well. They do not crave for money, and all they wish for is a little love and attention that they truly deserve. There is nothing better than to see a child grow and prosper, knowing you played a part in it. Seeing them go on the stage and dance to a song I had taught them, made me feel like a proud parent.
The event went really well. I realised that becoming a part of FHI was one of the best decisions I had taken and that this was the right place for me. This is where I belong and I finally found some purpose in life. At the end of the day, I returned home with love, peace and gratification. I carried back with me hope and faith that if they could, I definitely can. My heart underwent a transformation, it experienced bliss and liberation for the first time since the past few months. I felt free. I wanted to fly; fly higher and higher in the sky and take a look at this gigantic world to which I belong and come to terms with the fact that my problems were so minute in comparison. That one small hug from the little girl made a huge difference in my life. That day I returned home with me, the “real me” which had been lost somewhere.