Day 21: Volunteering good for health

11th October 2013; 6:14 am on the banks of Mandakini River, Kotma

A few days ago I was struggling with the question of “am I really serving?”. I had come for a one day visit to Kotma that day when Swami Ji (Dr. Tulsidas) said to me that your mere presence is serving. Your good intentions will boost the morale of other people working here.

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Serenity personified, Kotma

Kotma seemed to be serenity personified and I found the same in Swami Ji. For the last 3 weeks, time has flown so fast… Kotma somehow touched a cord inside saying this is the place for service and silence. 3 days back we decided to come back to Kotma and serve with Swami Ji for at least a week. After the mountain trek from Guptkashi,  we reached here by noon and after a quick rest were full of energy to start the work.

Dr. Tulsidas has opened a boys hostel here for children from flood affected families and its only been 2 days, so naturally there is a lot we can contribute towards. But he didn’t tell us what he needs help in. He said, service should not be done with a consciousness of serving others. When you serve yourself, opportunity to serve others will just arise. He said, do what brings calmness to your mind. I realized then that I just need to wait for things to unfold.

And it didn’t take long :). Just that evening 3 girls from the nearby school came and asked if I can help them in English.  I said “sure, come at 4 pm tomorrow evening”. This was day 1 (8th Oct) in Kotma.

Next day, at 4 pm the three girls (kalpana, rachna and kavita) came with their English books. As soon as we started, the 11th and 12 std boys from below (the hostel is 2 storey.  The boys live on 1st floor and we on the 2nd floor) also joined. So the class started with 9 students. After some time 2 girls of 7th std came and sat in the class. At the end of the class, I told both of them to bring their maths books from tomorrow.
Yesterday (the 3rd day) as I was waiting for the children on the terrace, one little boy comes and says “madam ji aaj to bahut saare bachche aa gaye” (ma’am, a lot of kids have come today). I look down and I see around 30 kids of all ages. And I say to myself “how am I going to teach all of them at the same time?”. My first impulse was to send some back. But as I was coming down the steps I realized how much eagerness the children have towards studying and all they need is a good teacher. So I decided not to send anyone back. I went in the hostel and asked the 12th std boys if they can help with the class. 2 of them volunteered. We grouped all kids according to their classes and all 3 of us started taking lessons. There were English and Mathematics lessons happening for almost 40 kids ranging from 4th std to 12 std! We were just moving from one group to another, teaching a concept, giving problems, addressing doubts and checking the solutions…

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My impromptu school in Uttarakhand 🙂

We hardly had space for so many children in the hostel, so we were holding the class on a platform along the roadside…It was so much fun. We didn’t even realize when two hours were over and the kids weren’t even keen on going back. It was only when it started to drizzle that we rushed the kids to their homes :). In between, looking at the crowd, a few people stopped and asked what was going on. Said that they will also send their children :).

Later in the evening, I was sharing the day and my excitement with Swami Ji. He simply said “beautiful”. And then he asks me “how is your cold?” And suddenly for the first time in so many days i realise i have an unblocked nose and I say “its gone!” 🙂

Swamy ji said “teaching children was your remedy! ”

(At 8pm, 11 october)

Today it was raining throughout the afternoon so we held our class inside the hostel. Had to send a few children back due to lack of space :(.
Waiting to see how our school moves in the coming days 🙂

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Today our school shifted inside due to rains

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