Just over a week ago my sewa safar in Bhārat with Samatol Foundation came to an end. My last blog post was 2 weeks ago, and since then I was still involved in the office, doing preparation for the Samaroop (send-off ceremony).
As mentioned my task was to create detailed and informative posters to hang up in the domes at the campsite, that would allow the parents and visitors to gain a depper understanding into the reasons children run away, the law in place to support them, and the work that Samatol does. The Samaroop ceremony was on Saturday 25th August, and the week leading up to that was very hectic in the office. I had many tasks assigned to me, which were all at loose ends, and so it was a matter of bringing all these loose ends together, in time for the Samaroop, and in time for everything to be proofed and printed.
The Samaroop was an incredibly unique experience, and one that I will cherish forever. Some of you may have caught it on the Facebook live stream I set up, or watched the recorded video after, however in short, the day was a send-off for most of the children who had been at the campsite for approximately 45 days. This was their time to be reunited with their parents and working from the office during the work I saw the immense amount of preparatory work that went into this. The karyakartas a few weeks prior to this event, began to find details for the children’s parents, so that they could be contacted in a suitable amount of time, so that they could arrive at the Samaroop in a timely manner, or soon thereafter. At the Samaroop around half of the children were reunited with their parents, and the other half’s parents were going to come a few days later due to travel time. At this event, was the showcase of the sangeet I had been teaching the children for the past 6 weeks, along with a dance, and I can definitely say that the I was immensely proud of the children for their performance!
This day was quite obviously emotional, as I cannot imagine being away from my parents for that long as that age and seeing the reaction of some of the children was truly heart-touching. Furthermore speaking to some parents, and other visitors was a great experience as I was able to understand both points of view, and some of the family backgrounds were extremely eye-opening, as to how ‘sheltered’ my life in the UK is. The day was so incredible that it is actually quite hard to express in words, hence why I shared more photos on the Instagram blog, and below, as seeing it will encapsulate all the feeling I had of the day.
Camp – Office – Field
During my final week, I spent some time in the office, but also requested to have some experience on the station doing fieldwork (i.e. actively finding children). This was because I had thus far had experience at the office, and at the campsite, however I wanted to see where it all began, so that my cycle would be complete. My experience at the station was also very unique, and my first observation of it was… oh my gosh… there’s a lot of walking involved! For this I am incredibly inspired by the karykartas who do this work on a daily basis. The station I was based at was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and this was one of the oldest stations in Bhārat. It was formerly known as the Victoria Terminus during the British Raj, where Queen Victoria was the presiding monarch over the nation, and this evident in the architecture of the station, reminding me fondly of the UK. As this is one of the busiest stations in Bhārat, and one of the most popular as it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the station is kept very clean, which was something that was very different to most stations in Bhārat, which are dusty, dirty and unkept. Although we did not find a child the days I went, it was nevertheless sa valuable opportunity to see the process ‘hypothetically’.
The Insider’s Insight
Also, for a week between my last 2 weeks, I had the opportunity to stay with a host family to experience that aspect of this process too. This was an amazing experience, and I would recommend anyone to do this if they get the opportunity. Naturally this may seem daunting however, the host family I was assigned to was so lovely, and made me feel so welcome into their family, that I felt incredibly comfortable staying with them. I even had the opportunity to meet their family who has come from Chennai, and the chance to take part in a Ganpati Puja they had held at the house, which really was the cherry on top!
Seeing all the work done by the karyakartas at the campsite, office and on the stations, really makes me very proud to be Indian and to say that my nation has such great individuals who do this sort of work. Whilst there have been many inspiring people I have met along the way, there are way too many to name and give introductions about, however they have all in their own unique ways, developed me as a person, and for that I am incredibly thankful. Also, it has truly opened my eyes to the realities of the world, as in the UK most of us live a very privileged life in comparison, and so seeing and experienced the other side to it has been very humbling. This experience has been unlike any other I have had to date, and will have in the future, and being able to perform sewa and serve others in Bhārat has been incredible!
Quotes of the Blog:
‘No act of kindness, no matter how small is wasted’ – Aesop
‘ I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy’ – Rabindranath Tagore