Diwali as a festival signifies victory of Good over Evil. Right from Navratri through Dussehra and lasting all the way till Diwali, we remind ourselves that righteousness will always win. For me, this year has been nothing short of miraculous because I have witnessed goodness prevail not just on Diwali but every single day. Read on to know more.
Ever since my daughter, her friend and I started Project Gyan Jyot, my life has been filled with gifts, miracles and gratitude. Project Gyan Jyot is a small initiative to help bridge the learning gap for a few slum children in Pune. My daughter and her friend are high schoolers. Both of them gathered a bunch of more high schoolers and all us together have been aiding the learning journey of the slum children. When we kicked off the Summer camp in March 2023, I was skeptical. Why would high schoolers spend their summer with us in a sweaty, smelly room which boasted a creaky old fan and a failing light bulb as its only infrastructure? But I was wrong. Not only these high energy teens joined the camp at a single days notice, they also spread the word like wild fire on the social media groups. We had a steady stream of volunteers throughout the summer to help the children learn English. They innovated with games, crafts, songs and what not, trying to create the most memorable experience for the children. For me, this was nothing short of a miracle. This changed my complete outlook about the teens of today! It was simply wow! I call this my miracle 1.
We started with about 10 regular children in the class and now we have 25 regular children (with 70 registered children who keep popping in and out of class). We did not spend a minute or a single rupee in marketing the class and getting more children. They simply love the class so much that they keep going and telling their friends, cousins, and even guests about it. This reinforced my belief that all children naturally want to learn if they are taught in a way that resonates with them. I call this my miracle 2.
All throughout the months, I have seen children teaching children. Sometimes high schoolers helping middle schoolers and sometimes middle schoolers teaching primary graders. Somedays when the rush is beyond control, children who have understood a concept, willing move on to help their peers understand. They have a choice to move forward on their own learning or do something to while away their time. But all of them have discovered the joy in sharing and they take pride in helping their peers learn and come up. We live in a world where we teach children that it is a tough world out there and they need to be extremely competitive, but I witness a completely different world in our small classroom, each day. I call this my miracle 3.
When I started the classroom, how I wished we could leverage technology to get the best learning aids for the children. Last month we signed the agreement with Byjus and the senior children have started learning on one of the finest curriculum suited for Indian Boards. I call this my miracle 4.
Most of the days I used to lug a bundle of story books with me so that children can exchange their old books and borrow the new books that I had carried that day. A few weeks ago, some noble folks donated two large wooden cupboards which I could partly fill with some old books from my own home. As the word spread more and more people came forward to donate preloved books, board games, and toys. Some days, I end up spending my day on the road going from home to home collecting these goodies! I call it my miracle 5.
There have been many more incredible, unbelievable events that mark this story and many more awesome souls that I have connected with during this journey. Will share more stories as we move along.
If you have been reading this till now, I know you are inspired by goodness too. I know that no matter what the media likes to tell us there is a lot more good happening in the smallest parts of the world. I know that no matter how bad my day has been when I land up in class in the evening, my faith in goodness, humanity and God is restored.
Project Gyan Jyot has taught me that there is a lot more purity in this world than that meets the eye. But since this purity is not splashed in front of our eyes, every single day, we tend to believe that Evil is winning. To experience miracles like I have experienced, perhaps each one of us has to make our individual effort to cross the line ourselves and be part of creating Diwali each day for ourselves and many more around us.
Happy Diwali to you all!
May you discover the good within yourself and everyone and everything around you.