Balloons have always made me happy and so, when I was sent out to meet the Principals of the schools, armed with a bunch of colourful helium balloons, my lips curved in to an involuntary smile. ‘This is going to be fun,’ I thought and marched in to the school offices, armed and colourful. As part of the ‘Let Change Fly’ campaign, we were hoping to generate interest in the younger generation, to actively take on the role of change- agents in the society. We were also hoping that the school Principals and the teachers would become our partners in this change movement. So the campaign began. We were a committed bunch of volunteers representing the social enterprise, SoCh. Being smitten by the cause, we were determined to make a difference in the society. We had a vibrant team that split in to smaller groups and my formidable co- campaigner turned out to be a wiry, bright-eyed and resilient girl of about seven. She had a lovely name but I would call her ‘K’. After being driven to the schools by her gentle mother, K walked along with me, holding bright balloons that frequently threatened to fly away and lift her along. She didn’t let it bother her. ‘Are you ok?’ I asked again and again but she nodded solemnly each time. She had a purpose, didn’t she? There were balloon invites to be delivered to the Principals. They were invited to a Change Conference, weren’t they? How would they know unless she hands them the invites? I nodded, as solemnly.
The hours that followed were not easy. While the sun scorched, the school gates creaked open, one after the other and little Miss K marched in to the office and waited for the relevant authorities to accept her balloon. She fidgeted, tugged at her skirt but stayed put. When it was time to hand out the invites, she would shyly extend her hand and apart from brief thank you’s here and there, not much else was forthcoming. On the other hand, when it was time for her to end the campaign and rest, she protested vehemently. Of course, she wanted to continue, she said. She wanted to continue her campaign with the others in spite of the heat, in spite of the disappointments at many offices where the relevant authorities were not available and in spite of the long hours. She asked me questions; wanted to know why not all the relevant authorities were eagerly waiting for us and why they were so busy. I found some explanations for her, but she learnt a bit about the realities of life as well.
‘Welcome to the land of doing good,’ I thought. Nothing is easy in life and like every other road you take, the road to volunteerism and philanthropy is also full of road blocks but that does not stop you from reaching your destination, does it? At the end of the campaign, the tireless volunteers had managed to reach out to 122 schools. A big cheer rang out and along with it a big relief, at having achieved the goal at the end of a long day. The belief was unshakeable and visible on the tired faces but the younger volunteers looked more committed than the rest of us. I know the look. I have noticed it time and over when I have dealt with children. Each time I have come across a young volunteer or philanthropist, I have seen a spark, a sense of purpose, a pride in having the ability to give back to the society. I have the seen joy of giving when no return is expected and I have seen it reflected in those young eyes.
That leads me to believe that we all need a worthwhile purpose in our lives; it confirms that resilience is in our mind and not in our bodies and lastly it makes me conclude that children need to taught to give back to the society at a younger age. However small the act of giving, it empowers them somehow. Meanwhile, the society remains humbled by the touch of their little hands and their capacious large hearts.
Dear young philanthropists of this world, I am one of those who remain humbled by your brave efforts and your noble intentions!