Volunteer activities make me nervous. It doesn’t matter how much time has gone into planning the details, or how many people have said they’ll come. The night before, jagged concerns cut into a state of semi-sleep with dreams of unhappy children, no manpower and boxes filled with headless paintbrushes. I wake up to pace a little, laugh a little and add to the SMS-essay to be sent to Munawar sahib in the morning.
I do like SMS-essays. Even better are the BBM-essays, that flow in one unpunctuated sequence –
What if no one comes
What if no one comes
What if they have no fun
What if the kids get culture shock?
I hope there’s a point to this
I hope things go right
This will impact their confidence and world-view, won’t it?
Please let them have a good time
And learn new things, useful things too.
This was meant to be The Summer, in which a structured kind of volunteer program was to be put into place at the Pehli Kiran School System. I’d been talking about it for months, really, as a “groove that people could just slide into” – people who were always asking how they could get involved. However, it wasn’t until that neat little matrix proposing an eight week program was submitted and the objectives were approved, that a few hard realities began to set in.
1. It was summer.
This meant that during the 11-1 time-slot proposed for all Saturdays of Fun, it was potentially going to be a little bit hot. Also, they weren’t kidding about global warming.
2. Nobody had to come.
This wasn’t like the Hamara School Scheme last November, when people came in droves to complete their mandatory hours of community service. Also, the ICAS students with the unflagging energy and untainted passion were entirely bogged down with exams. So, every morning, there was no guarantee as to whether or not the confirmed attendees would actually show up.
You know what, though?
Things worked out.
In the most beautiful way.
Would really like to talk about each day in detail – the brainstorming sessions, the Star Volunteers, the funny things said and heard. Until that time, suffice it to say that this summer took my personal faith in people to an entirely new level. They came, even though I wrote “Shell” instead of “PSO” as a landmark in one of the emails. Even though the van broke down one day and there was no one to lead the way to Golra (past the cows, past the cement blocks – yes, keep driving).
They came, and when they left they said, “Thank you for the opportunity.”
Somebody told a Star Volunteer she was making the world a better place. She replied, saying, “Oh, it’s not such a bad place at all.”