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We drove down on a hot sunny day, excited to meet Lalithamma, the founder of People’s Organisation for Rural Development (PORD) She was making revolutionary changes to the lives of many children in south India and had managed to work against all beliefs and all stereotypes in the society to make a difference in people’s lives, while helping villages where poverty, caste and gender discrimination were rampant.

She fought with the tribals and Dalits with all her grit for freedom and dignity that they deserved.

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In the first village, Yadawavaripilla, I noticed a boy clearing weed on a field. This struck an emotional chord in my heart. I realised how different his world was from mine. It was a parallel to what children would normally do in their spare time which reminded me of my childhood when I had the privilege to ask for anything and it would be given to me without a second question.

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But I saw hope when I met a boy named Manjunath. He was one among the few graduates of the village.He believed that inspiring the younger generation to become someone successful in life would help them realise how much they could grow. He sets an example for the children and gives them a reason to stay in school and study further and help their village become a sustainable one.

 

 

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We then witnessed a gathering of children at the Children’s Collective in Thammiendluinghu, where they come together, engage, discuss, debate, share ideas, experiences and information, mutually learn, collectively think, encourage one another and critically understand their own community and society at large.

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The Children’s Collective process recognize the fact that it is the ‘right of children’ to get involved in processes that affect their lives. I was really amazed to see the kind of unity of hope that kept them together; the children understood that the world was beyond studying and working, they also believed in aspiring to be better citizens of the society at large. On asking them whether they would rather join a Private school with better facilities for a higher fee, they almost immediately answered, ‘No.’ saying they would rather study at their government school and make sure it soon had the same facilities that would be just as luxurious as the private school.

This, I believe is their way of living, their way of growing and their way of doing things that would resolve in the best possible solution to all their problems and that is my take away. I am very proud to be a part of an organisation that initiates change and allows these people to believe in hope and faith. Faith, I believe is an action that needs no prior knowledge of the subject or proof of any definite answers. These people had faith in us, in the organisation, CRY, which makes being a part of it more satisfying. PORD is one of the many jewels of CRY that is successfully driving change and making a difference to the masses while keeping a close eye on the growth of children as our future leaders. I personally enjoyed this trip and I have learned a lot out of it, while making everlasting memories of success stories around South India.

Sohini Karmakar is a CRY employee. This is her account of her first visit to a CRY supported project.

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