So Long And Thanks For All The Fish!

This has been the most difficult post to write in the six months since we started and it is probably because this is my last update before I leave Street Smart. Maybe we get used to things around us and everyday experiences that are very important but are often shoved in the “routine” box in our heads. And then maybe, since this was my last month at street Smart, I noticed everything and I saw the children from when they started to now. In this last month, I saw how the children are laughing more and how they are happier. I noticed how they are growing in size and have become taller and stouter than before. As they studied, played, and danced I observed the tinges of pink in their cheeks and arms and I remembered their hollowed cheeks when we had first started out.The other day when I was overseeing the baths, I saw Sunita combing her hair and going up to each person there in turn to have them feel her soft hair that she exclaimed have grown a little! At that time, I remembered the dirty rag that she had tied around her few hair when Shaila, Amrit and I met her for the first time at 8 in the morning in Astley Hall where she slept with her brother Rajkumar.I have especially watched Naina as she has become a different person in many ways though in some others, she is still the same infuriating little brat! From the kid who would smack the little ones hard and not give a damn about anything or anybody, she is showering her love and attention on our 5-year old Raju and is helping the teachers bring the other little ones from Parade Ground into Rein Basera everyday.

But most of all, in this past month I have noticed with immense pride, how much Rajkumar has transformed and grown. He was this scrawny teenager whose skeleton frame would be too little for any clothes we ever gave him and though he is still a size-zero model, he is no longer an invisible speck on the walls of Astley Hall. A few months back, we were concerned about Rajkumar getting influenced by the older boys and going off to drink, getting into fights and his addiction to whitener-solution and alcohol. He still has a long way to go about his addiction but he is the Big Brother of Street Smart now! He watches over everybody else and is more staff than student here! He helps with everything and do I see traces of willingness to learn in his stubborn head? I would like to believe I do!

This was the most difficult post to write when I started. There are at least a dozen drafts on my blogger page for this write-up alone and the only thing that ensured I did not give up on it altogether was the prospect of being shouted at by Shaila on my last day here!

Earlier, I would have to often remind myself that is has been only six months since we started. This was when I would start to worry that we are not making enough progress and that we are achieving nothing through our program. In this past month too, I have been constantly reminded that we are only six months old. Only this time, it was when I became too weepy and proud about how much the kids have grown and how much they have transformed and oh look, he is like this now but you should have seen him then and oh oh she has learnt that only now and earlier she would start to swear when anybody asked her to study!

At the end of my last post, I will say this: a few times I have been asked to name the one person in whose life I have made the biggest difference while at Street Smart. The answer to this question has always been one:  myself. We have taught the kids nothing compared to what we have learnt and how much we have grown as individuals, workers, thinkers, planners and in a million other ways. So I take with me more than I have been able to give but even so, I am proud of having been (and this bond will not end here) part of something so spectacular.

So long and thank you for all the love and laughs!

-Shweta

PS- I also take with my nits and lice. :

3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey shwet, just wanted to thank you for street smart. It is just not about how great Street Smart today is. It is coz u created a new world for the little babies out there. everyone knew that the kids needed a doctor, hygeine and nutrition. U were theo ne who made us see they needed hugs, love and acceptance. Acceptance with the way they are, not the way we want them to be. U saw their struggle and helped them. Not to change their life big time, but to survive their life. This was not possible without u. Thanks for making kids feel happy, loved and confident.Even more, thanks for making them feel like a comunity. You did the magic and the magic shall stay. love Aastha

  2. Anonymous says:

    Salaam Shweta..and thank you for putting it into words, AasthaKavita

  3. sharead says:

    Dear shweta,i'm happy & excited that u r cming home bt on the other hand feeling bad for the kids whom u hav to leave . I know they will miss u at classes & i'm afraid that after spending 6 months with them it will be difficult for u too to stay here at home.u r leaving them & i'm getting senti here.Dear shaila, aastha ,kavita & other voluntiers plz. take proper care of kids.shweta will be back soon.

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