As a small way of remembering the passing of Ishwar Kaka, a few volunteers chose to walkfrom Sughad to Gandhi Ashram on 26th December. Along the way, our intention was to open our hearts and interact with as many people as possible, speaking about sanitation. As we walked on a pleasant winter afternoon, we came across several communities, but one sequence of events stood out the most.
We were walking by a well manicured grass lawn occupied by several groups of people that was littered with plastic wrappers and 'chai' cups. My mind felt like this needed to be fixed and we decided to 'do' something about it. Immediately we got down to cleaning, hoping to inspire those around us to join in. After a good half hour of bending down and collecting plastic, we noticed that our attempts at engaging those around us were not working. I notice a little judgement in my mind, generating little impulses and creating negative ripples. I let it pass, and accept it as part of this journey of ours as observers.
An hour later, Karuna (another volunteer) and I were walking through an area with a huge group of children from the nearby slum. They were very high on energy and immediately took to Karuna, pulling her by the hand and mimicking her every move. As we had been doing all along Karuna instinctively bends down to pick up some trash that was in her way. And instantly, it sets off a wave amongst the kids. For more that half an hour as we walked about a kilometre, 20 children along with Karuna clear trash and hand it over to nearby stall owners. The stall owners stare in amazement as unbathed, barely clothed kids approach them with handfuls of garbage asking them not litter the streets. They're clearly taken aback by what they're witnessing.
Immediately, my mind races back to the incident at the lawn and starts comparing. When an intention turns into a project, we can become more goal oriented in our service. We may then try to create relations with our community and 'expect' them to join in. Any deviation from the goal results in our disappointment. We may chase goals by 'doing' and forcing results as implementers.
But when we create relations the work comes from love with a pure intention. We tend not to see the situation as broken. Invariably, a community feels moved enough to work for themselves and we become facilitators just by 'being' ourselves. The garbage that the kids accumulated was significantly larger than what we could achieve ourselves. I haven't even tried to assess the impact of these experiences on the stall owners or the kids themselves. And most importantly, it was effortless!
For the next few days, I have been constantly thinking about the incident and how I can apply it to my service. The anwer is simple, Love all, and then serve all! Relations come first and the results will follow.
* For more photos click here