As my internship here at ETASHA comes to an end, I wonder where was this sense of peace and clarity that I come to know while working here. I recall the summer holidays in 11th and 12th, when quite a few of my friends were interning at NGOs for various reasons such as ‘personal satisfaction’, which more often than not they were doing simply to obtain a certificate to support their college application. I still remember saying, that having finally gotten a break from studying all I wanted to do was relax and chill. Now a year later I realise that that attitude was so selfish and self-centred.
On my first day I went to the Tigri centre where I observed an English class and a behavioural class. During a section of the class where the trainees had to provide words that described them, one of the moments which I will always remember was when one trainee, Sandeep approached and asked me what the word for ‘understanding feeling’ was; I told him that the word he meant was empathy, but later during the class when he told everyone what context he meant it in, I corrected it to compassion and the class moved on. At the end of the class he came up to me and wanted me to explain exactly the meaning of empathy and how it differed from compassion. It felt so good to see that these people were genuinely interested in learning; this was new for me as in my school everyone takes education for granted and never bothers doing anything extra. I guess it’s human nature to work hard for something you want and need rather than something you take for granted.
Then another day I took part in community mobilisation in the slums around the Tigri centre. We went from houses to market places to corners where people where gathered to tell them about what ETASHA is doing and how it could help them. To my amazement many people seemed genuinely interested in enrolling in the programs we were offering. To them the idea of guaranteed jobs interviews after completing a program was a turning point in the thought process of their decision to join. While most were interested because of the job they would get at the end of the program, there were some younger people who were interested just in the employability skills programs, which do not come with placement; they were interested in improving their spoken English and computing skills. One of the brilliant things I noticed was that while we were talking to people from the community, regardless of their eligibility a program, they would help us by taking us to someone else who might be.
During my day at the Mandanpur Khadar Centre, while I was observing a presentation skills class, I noticed that the trainees seemed enthused by the idea of making props for their presentation. They did not treat it like free time or a way to kill time, but instead they sincerely worked hard to make props that would help improve their presentations on their recent visit to the GIP mall. Even after their presentations were over, they sat quietly and patiently to view the recording of their presentations and receive feedback on their performance.
For the past couple of weeks I have been working at the ETASHA office researching and working on projects with ETASHA’s facilitators. One project is an activity inspired by the TV show, ‘The Amazing Race’. During the activity the trainees will be given a set of clues and tasks which they will have to complete in order to reach one of ETASHA’s centres where they will be given another set of clues and tasks which they will have to complete to reach the finishing point. The activity is to help students understand the importance of planning, time management and team work, and to help develop their confidence in moving around the city.
While working at ETASHA, my work has been very varied; from community mobilisation to helping out facilitators in classes to researching projects and making activities for lesson plans. Working here has helped me learn a lot of key virtues that will help me throughout my life. Such as basic office protocols, meeting deadlines, time management and teamwork to say the least. The great experience that I have gained while working at ETASHA is thanks to the people who study there and work there – those who are completely dedicated and care for the cause along with being one of the most fun and chilled crowd you could hope to work with. Here everyone works hard and parties harder!
Prerit Motwani, Delhi, Intern – soon to join Christ University, Bangalore