“No physical or mental limitations shall deny a person his rightful place among the society.”
The Samarpan club of IIM Ranchi had organized a visit to the Kshitish deaf and dumb school as a part of Diwali celebrations. Having never visited a place that caters to the special needs of people, I was miffed with myself for having volunteered for the visit – would the children be accommodating, do we need to be empathetic for their condition are the thoughts that were swivelling in my mind.
The Samarpan team through the Joy of Giving fundraiser had gathered funds from the students of IIM Ranchi. With the money raised, blankets, stationery & computer spare parts were bought which were the prime requirements of the students.
The day of the visit came and there was an air of excitement among us. To be an active part of a contingent with the sole intention to reach out to the children in need was the energy that was motivating us. We started from our hostel complex with the supplies and reached the school. All the children were seated in the classroom and we were greeted with brimmed up pleasant smiles. All my apprehensions faded as we interacted with the children. Some of us had gone an extra mile in trying to learn the basic sign language to dwell along with the children and to make them comfortable. The artworks of the children were on display on the walls and they were no less than masterpieces. The Samarpan team had planned a poster and a Diya painting competition for the children on the theme ‘Diwali’. A teacher then instructed the children about the competitions and we handed them the stationery needed. Their sense of imagination was so strong that they sprang into action sketching scenes depicting Diwali, colouring them.
I could see a sense of heartfelt bliss among all the volunteers helping out the children, so serene was the sight that I always revel in joy thinking of the moment.
As the painting competition was underway, some of the volunteers made a rangoli in the classroom wishing the children a happy Diwali. A few of us started helping the children with the painting and some even took matters into their own hands and started sketching.
We started clicking pictures with the students and they loved it. They came up with some picturesque poses which lit up the mood. We interacted with them writing down questions on a piece of paper and they wrote their answers in reply. When asked about their aspirations, some of the answers swept me off my feet. If you think that a doctor, an engineer would be the common answers, you are in for a surprise. Their special needs had imbibed into their hearts that there are many more children with similar ailments who needed to be taken care of as well. Out of my interaction with a few children, one said that he understood the hardships that children like him faced and that he would become a teacher and join the same school so that he could empower many children like him. Another student said that he was from a poor family and that he would become something big and show to the society that these ailments would never pose detrimental against the sheer willpower in him and that he would take care of his family. A few answers like a doctor, an artist, a dancer followed.
As we came to an end of the poster painting competition, there were some sublime posters, some beautiful pictures of families celebrating Diwali in their backyard with a scenic landscape that surrounded it, cartoon characters in their bright costumes holding crackers, paintings of children reveling in joy at the sight of crackers were the most common one which we felt took shape from the innate desires of the students. A few of them even made a live sketch of the students from our senior batch which so closely resembled the volunteer. The children were made to display their paintings and we clicked pictures along with them. Many more candid pictures were taken which were not just tantalizing but the moments captured speak volumes of the innate sense of the joy we perceive upon giving back to the society.
We then had a cake cutting organised for the children and distributed snacks. At this point, we could see that none of the students was eating the snacks or the cake. Then the principal made an interesting point that until every student is served, they wouldn’t eat their share. The children though on the receiving end were quite considerate of their fellow students.
With so many inhibitions cleared and yet so much to learn, we made our way back to IIM Ranchi.
Contributing to sustainability is not just a need of the hour but a means to interact with the world, to understand its needs, to give back what we can to make the world a better place for you, for me and for the entire human race as we are the true stakeholders who can reflect upon these issues.
With the level of intent not the same in every individual, a friend told me an interesting story about the psychology of an explorer. When someone visits a new place, there are few people who just click selfies and pics. These are the tourists. Few of them love the place and keep visiting again. These are the travellers and a very few are the people who love the place so much that they stay and turn into a guide. To become a guide it's important to be a tourist first. So we should always encourage the tourist because who knows a tourist may soon turn into a guide.
Similar is my take on social responsibility – Redefine responsible business for the digital age. With the industry imbibing CSR into their corporate strategy, they are not just making it a point of discussion on their agenda, but are taking strides to make changes to their corporate structure. To give back to the society, on whose very foundations empires have been built. Nations view this step by the corporates towards sustainability as a ray of hope. So do we! As future leaders, we are sensitive to the implications this leap forward would have on our eco-system. Be ready to embrace the change. What have you in store for the future?