Some Personal Experiences With PRAYOG
Many things have not taken place as planned. The idea of starting Prayog with a ‘scholarship’ program for the youth is in the backstage now. There are so many critical areas we need to work for the children of this country residing in the villages. They have little, in fact no access to so many things. They do not know what to do ahead in life, and majority of them will drop out after high school, if not middle school. Because, they do not know the purpose of what they are learning. People may say, even the blessed ones in the cities do not know during school days. But, they can afford to continue with higher studies. In villages, majority of the students cannot afford after a certain level.
When I am with these students for a couple of days and nights, I see a number of kids standing around outside, holding the bamboo made boundary. I call them inside and many of the students, who are sitting inside, say: “these children are not meant for studying”. It is not difficult for me to understand because children often have a tendency to repeat on the lines of what they listen from the elderly. These are not their views, these are the views of their milieu. When I was there last time, some 10 women from the dalit tola asked me whether this is meant for their children or not? I was surprised as I had seen their children using the resources of library. They said that some children are not allowing them to use library. The problem here is not children, rather the message that roars in their mind during the growing-up days. They haven’t heard anything good about the dalits and hence their view. I explained it to everyone that Prayog is for everyone’s benefit and no distinction is made on the basis of age, sex, caste, class or religion. Children understand everything, when explained.
It feels glittering when I listen girls demanding for a ‘bat’ and ‘ball’ to play cricket. The happiest moment is when you see the eyes of these children and the enthusiasm that is created for these 2 days and 2 nights. Children from distant villages spending their days and evenings, playing together at times. Their roar when the generator starts and their rushing towards the classroom to occupy the front space. And the silence with which they watch the ‘knowledge package’ through a projector.
When a certain ‘Golu Kumar’, who belongs to a lower caste, takes me to a corner and says: “Sir, I belong to a very poor family”. What would you expect next words from him? He continues, “and my parents do not teach me mannerisms. Please help me do good in life”. His words make me feel like crying and as if someone has slapped tightly over my face.
What am I going to do? And have I taken a right decision by initiating something like Prayog? Will I be able to continue it? There is no option left with me now apart from continuing it. Else, I will be cheating with numerous Golu Kumar’s who are seeing a ray of hope in their life. What response would I give to those girls who are expecting atleast a bat from Prayog. I can’t play with their expectations. And the more than 100 odd girls and boys who are daring to come out of their houses even during the nights, to learn something new, something different and something innovative. And what would I say to my 5 supportive friends, that one night I had a fantasy and I cannot continue this anymore, sorry dudes!
When there is a passion to do something that you like nothing stops you, not even the worst fears. Prayog’s action place at Gopalganj is 200 kms from Patna, where I currently stay. And the roads are so deteriorated: people say that there is road in the holes rather holes in the road. Around a year ago, it was a 4-5 hour drive from here, now it takes at least 8 hours to reach there. When my mentor, Prof. Mishra calls me and says, “beta, my neighbour from Gopalganj has just arrived and his SUV is badly damaged because of the bad road”, he tries his best to terrorise me and checks my passion level. When my mother hears this and says me not to go this time, I try to convince her that so many children would be waiting to learn something new.
There are times when you think that God makes some connections without telephone. One, Tinku, who often goes with me whenever I visit a distant place. I tried his number so many times last month and he could not be reached. On Monday, at 7 am while I was returning from Gopalganj, he calls me and says: “Sir, I just woke up after a dream and saw that you were asking me to accompany you to Gopalganj”. I started laughing, and replied that had you dreamt this atleast 2 days ago, you would have been with me now.
While I was teaching computers to the children, I was getting continuous calls from my wife. At last I picked and told her that I would call back in a while. She says, “your child has started calling you..papa…and I could listen the …papapapapapappapappapapapa….in the background”. I felt so elated!
I am extremely thankful to a man, Manish Bhardwaj, who is not from Bihar but has been working day and night for the people living with Tuberculosis. He is a Ph.D from Massachussetts Institute of Technology, USA and runs a successful firm over there. And what had he to do with people of Bihar? Neither are his ancestral roots here. But he works for them with such a passion that is unmatchable. There is a need of several Manish Bhardwaj’s in the society today. The contribution can be in any well-meaning form. I am highly influenced by him!
All my friends and dear ones who are reading my experiences with Prayog, let me let you know that it takes nothing except the passion to do something well-meaning for the society. This society needs your innovative thoughts and rich vision. There will be ups and downs but you will be never left alone. So, do whatever you like because one ‘small initiative’ cannot work in entire Bihar or UP or any other state. Lakhs of such ‘small initiatives’ will make this world a beautiful place!