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Exposure to socio-economic ground realities

"Can lack of resources really make much of a difference?"

During my second visit to school, I had to ponder on this question in an almost miraculous fashion. This is because, let's face it, we don't usually go around thinking about deep, meaningful things as often as we should. It is only when we are exposed to a certain aspect in the environment around us that we are able to comprehend the meanings of new facets of life.

Wow, I already sound like I'm lecturing, don't I?

Anyway, so I went to my school and was greeted with familiar faces who excitedly shouted, "Bhaiyya!" upon seeing myself and Anand. Anand newly joined as a coordinator in my school: and he had a lot of surprises in store for him too. We made our way to the school block, or, more precisely, to the hallways filled with running children. Their footwear neatly removed outside class, children made their way inside and our classes began!

Come break time, I was feeling grand. In the books went, and out came the tiffin boxes, and little hands rushed to teacher and student alike to engage in sharing and caring. There's two things you need to know when visiting a local school. One, you will never go hungry, because children have this innate ability to be kind to those around them. On observing that neither Anand and I had really brought anything, each offered us some special delicacy that they had brought - all from their small, children-sized lunchboxes. Anand and I chuckled at the feast: biscuits here, maggi there, and different types of homemade preparations made us forget that we had no lunchbox for ourselves. The second thing you need to know in school, and this might break your heart a little, is that not all of the students in the school have the same level of facilities offered to them.

Case in point? Some students rely on family members for transport, as opposed to many others who visit through the school bus. Some students have enough materials at their disposal, whereas some others may quite simply not. I remember mentioning casually to everyone that they should bring colour pencils the next time round, because we were going to make a poster-making activity. However, after school, one student slowly approached me accompanied by their mother and asked me again if they were really required. While they really were, I could sense that perhaps the family may have to go to some lengths in order to get them, and so I declined and just told them to come to school and that I would arrange them. They thanked me and left.

If you were anything like me the way I was earlier, you would be instilled with the belief that absolutely anything and everything was possible. But often life will throw in a tough decision, where you are faced by a question that may just change the way you think. "Can lack of resources really make much of a difference?" was that question for me. Earlier, I thought that if you had the spirit, you could achieve virtually anything. What I had not considered was that the very same activity, in a difference of environment, could provide larger number of challenges for its completion. If your are in an area that has limited access to clean drinking water and are hence prone to illness, someone else saying "just drink more clean water" will not make you automatically healthy. This is where the issue of socio-economic background gains importance. It is amazing how many opportunities and facilities the rest of us take for granted, simply because we were born into a family with slightly better means. In no way is this to say that some of us are better than the rest of us, no, quite the contrary! All I mean is, there exists a resource pool that is more accessible to some people than others. Should that, however, limit a child from greatness? Absolutely not. This ground reality can change - provided simple efforts are put in by the likes of us who have access to more.

My reverie was broken as another small kid came to me, with Pop Rings chips in all of his five fingers. He offered the chips to me, and I couldn't help laugh once again. Guess children already understand sharing better than the rest of us, regardless of their background.

Pushkar Marathe

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