By Volunteer Ashita Adhikari, FHI Delhi
Every event at Fly Higher India NGO – FHI brings new happy faces of kids and bucket full of new experiences. Every event is a memorable one but some are worth getting etched in our memory for a lifetime. One such beautiful event was at a slum in Vasant Kunj, Delhi. It was my first experience visiting a slum. It was a sultry sunny day. The kids were standing, gathered under a shed, eyes shining brighter than the blazing sun, in anticipation of a enlightening and fun filled day.
We started off with making decorative balls out of complete waste papers and playing mind bending concentration games. The shed under which we were sitting had a dry mud groud full of dust and dirt and the kids were merrily dancing with full zeal, every one of them barefoot.
This was when a little girl came to me and asked,” Didi, apke baal itne soft kaise hai?” (how’s your hair so soft?), to which I just smiled at her.
She continued,”Mujhe to baal dhone ke liye paani nahi milta, varna mere baal bhi apke Baal jaise soft hote Kya?” (I don’t get enough water to wash my hair, or else even I’d have hair as soft as yours)
I just stood there, struck with a sudden wave of sadness, speechless and completely silent.
Her hair was in two tight and little, untidy ponytails, covered in a layer of dust and you could tell that she did not, almost never, got to wash them.
There was something in her tone that made it more striking and heart aching. There was hope. There was optimism, the innocence of a child.
I vividly remember that I could only reply,”Aur nahi to kya, jab ap baal wash karoge to apke bhi bahut soft ho jaenge.” (You’d have soft hair too, when you get to wash them) I didn’t know if my reply sounded even half satisfactory to her but she ran back and continued dancing anyway. The conversation faded away in a couple of minutes but the girl’s bright eyes and hopeful voice got stuck in my head for ever.
The area was severely dry. The unavailability of water was so acute that the people residing there had to use water for the most crucial activities of daily life and washing hair was far from being one of them. The event ended on a high note with the kids dancing and laughing and I came back home. I kept thinking how on one side there’s a section of people like us who take basic needs like water for granted and on the other side water is still a luxury for many. The little girl was happy and full of life but once she grows into an adult in that slum, I wonder if she will ever feel blessed and satisfied with the life that she’s got.
This is what the goal is. Being a small part of FHI, we feel empowered and responsible to contribute to the life of the children we meet because we have the power to affect and change their outlook at life. We influence how they see life as. They are inspired by our small ways of thinking, talking and handling things. This may sound like something very irrelevant and small but once the child feels inspired, powerful, heard and supported, they dare to open their wings and fly. I have the power to influence the little girl in such a positive way that she grows into a happy strong woman who isn’t afraid to dream rather than into a woman who constantly whines about her fate.
This is what the goal is. And this is where we are constantly striving towards at FHI.