Be the change

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It’s a powerful thought but, unfortunately often forgotten.

We all desire a better society, a better country and a better world, so how do we achieve it? Why, by jumping in to make it better, of course! Hope you were not planning to delegate this bit of your responsibility. A better society is only possible if we stop complaining about what’s wrong and who’s wrong and instead, take ownership of our own actions. The buck stops here. We have got to be the change that we want to see in the world. If we change, so will the world and if we inspire and equip the next generation, then so will our future.

Needless to say, our future depends on what we do now and how we train the children of the world. ‘Exam- acers’, ‘trophy winners’, ‘fast texters’, ‘social -networkers’ and ‘Justin Beliebers’ are all fantastic but socially conscious, emotionally stable, secular, altruistic and responsible future- citizens are not just fantastic, they are imperative for a sustainable and safe future.

My work as an educator and as a volunteer with various NGOs exposed me to the potential of the young and I was amazed to discover endless possibilities of a child that could be brought to fruition with just a bit of adult support and encouragement. That’s when I realised that one of the greatest responsibilities of us adults, with a stake in the future, is to allow children to dream, encourage them to acquire the necessary skills and finally to empower them with the unshakable belief that ‘dreams are achievable’. Not just that, if we aspire to have a world that’s peaceful, beautiful and for that matter, still around, then we also have to  encourage the ‘little’ citizens of a family to accept differences, overcome mental barriers, cross religious and geographical boundaries and eventually become ‘citizens of the world’.

Getting in touch with Kiran happened at a time, when I was working with foster children and feeling the need to reach out to people who believed what I believed in, reiterated what I thought and marched ahead in spite of the countless difficulties. Finding her was momentous. My first sentence was a happy “Where were you all this while?” It turns out that she was around for a long time, but simply not in my line of vision. Kiran Bir Sethi, a resident of Ahmedabad, India is the woman who founded ‘Design for Change’ movement. The movement has spread or as Kiran says, ‘infected people’ in more than 35 countries and for which she has received ‘The Rockefeller Foundations‘ Young Innovator Award’ (2012).

Kiran had started this global movement with a conviction that if children are empowered and made to feel that they can take matters into their hands, they will change the world for the better. Their motto is ‘Every Child can’ and I say “of course!”  Based on a simplified design thinking process, this initiative asks students to FEEL any problem that bother them, IMAGINE a way to make it better, DO an act of change and SHARE their story of change with the world. Simple and yet effective.

Adopting ‘Design For Change’ in Singaporean context, is the organisation, SoCh in Action  (Social Change in Action), which believes that working with children can be an effective way to bring any change in our community, whether it’s a change in thought or in action. The Singapore based NGO organises a yearly event to showcase the best social change initiatives by children between the ages of 9 and 14. Madhu Verma, the woman behind SoCh, believes, “We all can make a difference in society no matter where we work”. Rightly said, Madhu!

So here are two organisations working relentlessly towards a cause that’s close to my heart. I commend their vision and hope that their work continues for as long as there are dreams to dream, future to look forward to and attitude of ‘I can’ to believe in. Having identified my cause, I jumped in, of course! I added these two organisations to my list of ‘ways to change the world’. I am humbled, empowered and proud to be a part of ‘Design For Change’ and ‘SoCh in action’ simply because I care and since ‘I can’. Now, the question is, have YOU found what you believe in? If so, are YOU being the change you want to see in this world?

In Kiran’s words, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

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