My tryst with Mantra4Change: A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER
Updated: Sep 28
The blog piece has been written by Ms. Soundarya Ganesan, who worked as an intern at Mantra4Change. She is in 2nd year of her graduation at SRCC, Delhi. Her energy and enthusiasm continue to inspire us.
It all started with the movie ‘Homeless to Harvard.’ The movie took a toll on me. Until then, I never really thanked God for His blessings rather I would always badger him to give me good grades, to bless me and my family with good health and we all know there is no saturation point for human needs. This movie made me recount all the bountiful blessings God had showered upon me. He blessed me with good parents, good family, good teachers, good friends and a good life altogether. I realized there are people who weren’t as privileged as me. I was filled with remorse and I experienced a pang of guilt for always badgering the Almighty with my list of never ending needs. I realized I should do something, something that would make up for all the trouble I caused to the Good Lord. I couldn’t really figure out what I could do. I kept asking myself ‘what can you do’.
One day, it dawned on me that I could teach the kids –the kids who couldn’t afford good education like I do. As a kid I used to love playing ‘teacher-teacher’ with my flat mates. Never ever had I thought I’d be teacher, teaching kids for real in the future. I spoke to my acquaintances in Chennai and Bangalore; and finally one of my good friends in Bangalore told me about Mantra4Change. I approached them and after a few formalities I was in. I was totally happy. It was amazing to know about Mantra4Change, its journey and its mission. Before formally starting my internship, I tried my hand in crowd source funding to contribute to their existing campaign. I was really excited and reached out to my friends, family etc. for help. The best part was that a lot of anonymous donors from different parts of the world donated to the cause and they encouraged me so much. I was enthralled. Thanks to all the donors once again!
For once, I really felt good about my own self. Once I was done with all my academic commitments at Delhi, I flew to Bangalore. I met the entire team at Mantra4Change and also got to spend a day with them. On my first day, I visited two of their partner schools- one Govt.-run, Urdu-medium school and one low-fee private school located in the slum. I encountered something that we all heard and read on the news: All the students in the Government-run school were first generation learners and most of their parents were daily-wage workers. I got an opportunity to talk to the teachers and they were very thankful to Mantra and team for bringing a change in the mindset of the people in the community and making them understand the significance of education. The visit to the private school helped me witness the functional and infrastructural change brought by Mantra and team. I was taken aback by all the efforts taken by Mantra and its team. The next day, I visited my placement school which Mantra4Change had started working with just 2 months ago. From my interaction with kids, I figured out that they were really poor in English and they were really scared to hold a conversation in English. I started with the basics in English Grammar for all the children regardless of their standard. Initially, being in classroom with 40 kids, I felt like a rudderless ship tossed in every direction and my self-confidence started to ebb away. But the team at Mantra gave me continuous support and motivated me to keep working hard. Gradually, children started opening up to me. They were enthusiastic and receptive. Whenever they had free periods or when the respective subject teachers weren’t there in class, they would ask me to conduct activities for them. They approached me with a lot of doubts / queries. I was really happy with the progress I witnessed. By the end of my 30-day tenure, I made sure the children were confident in their basics and all the lessons I taught them.
I was in tears- happy tears of course- when my children presented me a “Thank you” card on my last day with them. I had developed a saccharine bond with the kids and it was very hard for me to bid farewell to those ever charming and budding faces. It was a great learning experience for me. I never thought I could be a teacher and I think I’ve done justice as a teacher. I’m very thankful to Mantra4Change for giving me this wonderful opportunity and for having been immensely encouraging and supportive. Looking forward to work with you guys again!