It was a run-down school in a tiny Mumbai suburb with Christian funding, a Hindu principal, teaching mostly Muslim boys and girls – a diversity striking across many parts of India. I was there with a group of 23-28 year olds young social change enthusiasts, there to be the change with we want to see. I believe that each of us are inherently equal, it is our birth that imposes the inequalities and the differences, the bridges and the cleavages. Unfortunately birth is irreversible and so is its outcome of disparities. When I looked at the boys and girls playing in the school courtyard it was difficult to pinpoint what differentiated them from us, as children. And still, there was just so much lacking, so much that they had every right to have, they deserved to have. So how were we going to surmount these inexplicabilities?
Each of us were there to adopt another, another of the same gender but of a different, a younger age. A difference of 10-12 years in age, and a more affluent background than theirs, made us confident of the change we could roll into their lives, change that was likely to have ripple effects across aspects of their life beyond education. We offered them our version of adolescent mentoring. This is where I met her for the first time. A vivacious girl of my height, thin frame, she was flowing with intelligence and quick wit. She was alert, inviting and easy to talk to. Rapport with her was bound to be instantaneous.
Since that day and today it had been over 8 months and the bond is only growing stronger. Together, holding my hand, she has explored the idea of a world outside her tiny habitat. A world where if you are good, you have every opportunity to get better. A world where you can exercise your right to learn, to grow, to be the person you hope to be. Our relationship has provided my mentee a friend to confide in, a shoulder to rest on, a light to be inspired from... As for me, it has rebuilt the belief in my own capabilities; it has taught me the art of giving without expecting and further pushed my zest to do more... live more!
Take action! This post was submitted in response to My Story: Holding Hands.