Monday, April 20, 2009

NGO Internship, Chapter 1

Cursing the NGO placement cell, I woke up at 7 in the morning to leave for my NGO, to start my internship. The place is at Salt Lake, pretty far (I would think it is some 200Rs distance judging by Pune auto meters, or the lack of them).

Well, I still got a little late. That place is where I don't usually venture to, and even when I do, I don't usually have a time to meet. So, figuring out the way and the conveyance took some time, and so did the Sector V jam. And then I got lost. I think everyone, at least once has got lost in Salt Lake. It's impossible to know the way there, every street looks the same (and not exactly in an Simon Garfunkel Homeward Bound way).

And then I found the place. I rang the bell. GC 65, Salt Lake Sector 2. The office of Prayasam.

Then I had to wait inside. There was some meeting going on. And then suddenly, this gentleman comes out and says, "You're coming with me, we're going to Baruipur where a project is going on."

I went with him. As if I had a choice!

On the way, I learnt more about this man. Amlan Ganguly, Berkley pass out, the founder of the organisation is an interesting man to know. A documentary is being made, called the Revolutionary Optimists, by the Stanford University, and among the five people, he is one. Only last week they came to interview him, and the director and the cinematographer of this documentary are the same people who made the Oscar winning Smile Pinky. Among the others, Md. Younis, Nobel Winner, features in the documentary as well.

Talking with this man was a revelation. His thought processes are a little tangential with normal people, and according to him, Prayasam has worked because, "We approach the age old problems with a different treatment." He questioned mine, and society's age old thinking about NGO's, and development.

We reached the camp at Baruipur. Me, him and two others from the NGO. I didn't have much to do, I had to just see and understand. The children were amazing! Watching them play, draw, build comradeship among each other - it was a sight which transferred me back to my childhood. The houses drawn by children are always the same - a triangle and quadrilateral roof with rectangular walls. The sky is always the same - the clouds coloured blue and the sky left blank! The innocence in the strokes is something I had not seen in a long long time mostly thanks to CorelDRAW (no offense meant to the same!).

And then to think these children are street dwellers. We see them differently because they come from a different socio-economical background than us. Yet, when you mingle with them, play with them, help them draw - it's the same. It's the same what you did when you were young. Why did we gow up and lose our innocence? And when did we grow up?

Between all this, I got to know my responsibilities as an intern. As a true Media Trainee, as our college likes to call us, I am supposed to make two short films, design their annual report and do some reporting. Well, it does seem a tall order at start, but, all of this will involve working with these wonderful children and I am sure I'll enjoy it.

These children are not deprived. We are. Of our innocence.