November 3, 2010

Had I known how to save a life

“A child’s mind is like wet cement, whatever falls on it, leaves an impression.”

   Influencing the mind of a young child is perhaps one of the million things that most of us take for granted. Unfortunately it is also one that has the most far reaching consequences. Even more daunting is the thin line of balance that one treads while interacting with children who are less privileged than we were. Children who have experienced more adversity than most adults can afford to ignore throughout their lives, children who may have been robbed of their innocence due to fate, but are vulnerable to the repercussions of our callous actions all the same.

   Is over protectiveness the answer, or a superficial sense of normalcy?  Would these children be eager for our attention or resentful of our assumed role as caretakers and self-righteous preservers? In our quest to answer these complex questions the SSL held a workshop on ‘Caring for Children’ on 11th August, as a prelude to the Project Care visit on 14th August to Dolours School, Marine Lines. The session was conducted by Ms. Raheen Jummani, a clinical psychologist and child counselor who has had tremendous experience in therapy for underprivileged children across diverse sections of society.

   The workshop did not deal with jargon or psychological concepts and theories. We were instead called upon to consider our childhoods, to consciously remember each injury – mental or physical – that someone had unintentionally caused and every warm gesture that lightened our days. This simple but effective exercise drove home the point of being able to throw our preconceived notions and prejudices aside, and establishing a relationship that is based on our own experiences as children.

   Ms. Raheen stressed on the importance of honesty while working with a child. Children have a tendency to become attached to any person who gives them the requisite care, love and affection needed to win their hearts, however short the time period. In such a circumstance, it becomes vital to explain to the child the sudden absence of a volunteer or replacement with a new, unknown person.
She warned us of over enthusiasm, encouraging us instead, to listen more than talk and observe not just the obvious, verbal clues to a child’s personality but also the more subtle ones. A refreshing point that was brought to our notice was the necessity of knowing when to give up in case a certain child seemed unable to respond or take to your personality. As frustrating as it may seem, children may harbour extreme likes and dislikes, leaving a volunteer with no choice but accept the situation as beyond remedy and move on.

   However the essence of the workshop could be summarised in the inherent need to trust your instinct. As we learned that day, taking care of a younger person, being sensitive to a person’s needs and background cannot be taught in the four walls of a classroom, it must be acquired through experience, through a keen sense of observation and through an earnest desire to be able to help. Working with a child implies an immense responsibility, the responsibility that you undertake with the power to shape a life, the power to influence a budding mind, the power to bring a little light into a life that has probably seen more than its share of miseries. You could be careless with this responsibility, decide that it doesn’t amount to much and let the consequences follow or you could make a conscious decision to care for the child, respect the trust placed in you and to honour the duty you have committed to.

“Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate”

                                                                                     - Nikita Saxena (SYBMM).
                                                                                        Project Secretary, Workshops.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Nikita for this beautiful article.... I just saw it now...

    Keep doing the good work....

    Loads of Love n Light...