Today, March 6th, is the exactly one month and one day before I will leave India back to the states for a week long re-entry training at the beautiful Redwood forests. The training is the mark of the completion of my Global Citizen Year fellowship and I couldn’t be filled with more emotions: Happy, excited, and frustrated.
Happy to see all the fellows from different countries and briefly live through their lives through their stories of their little moments. Excited to be back in the states and see my family, cousins, and friends and tell them about my time in India. Frustrated because I have to leave my host family, community, and especially the school I teach in. In some sense, I feel like I have failed them.
I feel like I have failed the students for not pushing myself harder to raise more funds for the school. I feel like I have failed because I have only given 100% of my energy to them – I’m sure I could have squeezed a bit more in there. I don’t know how the next couple years will look like for them when I’m not there with them, but who am I to say I NEED to be there to foster their growth.
One (1) child, one (1) teacher, and one (1) school is all it takes to create change. I had this in mind and tried to be the teacher who strives to push and empower her/his students to take upon their own projects for the betterment of their school and community when she/he is gone. I think I have been successful: shoutout to Jay, Janaki, Raji, and Sidhu for going to different schools in the area and giving presentations on waste management and implement the same project we did, together, in our school. Although I had to sign the permission slip for them to go and give presentations, they did all of it independently. They identified, networked, and set up meetings all by themselves. They are all in 7th grade with the exception of Jay who is a very fine young man with an exceptional future. I have no doubt about it.
Could I have done more? Absolutely. Lucky for me, I have another month in my school to give all my energy to and then some.
One of my Teach for India mentors, Faiz, who his 2 year fellowship is coming to an end told me of what he always hoped to do for the school and how he can’t believe his time is coming to an end. He wants to concretize(?) the school’s dirt yard and install basketball hoops, buy soccer goal posts, install a vertical garden and a small sunroof so the kids don’t have to stand in the sun for their assmebly in the peak of heat at noon. God bless his soul. He needs a total of 1,500,000 Rupees or 15,000 USD to be able to achieve all this. 400,000 Rupees or 6,000 USD for the concrete and sport related costs. For my last month, I will do whatever I need to be able to get my school that 6,000 USD. This is my promise to myself and those kids: If I can’t get it this month, I will get you it sometime. I will come back. I promise.
Thank god there is this Act that the Indian Government passed in 2014, called the Corporate Social Responsibility Act or CSR, that requires companies whose profits exceed 1.25 Million USD to spend 2% of their money on something of the humanitarian cause.
My plan is to get some of my kids who were trained to make waste bins from newspaper and recyclable materials to train others and collectively make 200 bins and sell at a 2000 Rupee per pop to 6 companies. If I can get the companies to agree to purchase a total of 50 each, I will have 6000 USD. I will then get the Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad’s most famous newspaper to write an article so to portray this act of kindness from the companies. It’s a win-win situation.
Again, thank god for the Act, but this has made me truly understand to what extent there is need for projects to help all companies, foundations, and organizations to get involved more and get better publicity everywhere in the world.
This is how I will raise the 6k – by leveraging the companies’ names. Wish me luck.