We seemed to be on a high, we had quickly started two centres, we had volunteers joining us almost every week, we had managed to register Bhumi. But things unravelled quite quickly …
At our second centre classes continued regularly, we even started weekday evening classes. In those days I used to study at the Library in the TN MGR Medical University, Guindy, Chennai. In the afternoon, I would make 20 KM trips to Pudupettai so that we would be there immediately after the children reached home from school. Within a few classes, we realised the children needed support with basic English. I was especially struggling and purchased some English books with alphabets and small words to teach.
First, it happened on & off, that the staff of the partner organisation would forget to come. Without their support there would be no room to teach, so we would sit on the floor and teach the children. The floor was made of terracotta tiles and was slightly hot from the afternoon sun. The kids never had a problem and were quite regular, so we trudged on. On some weeks, some other volunteers would join me too but mostly it was just me. Female volunteers who found the courage to walk into the community would gingerly stand as our classes happened on the floor. Volunteers were dropping off regularly and we realized that there was a gap between the idealism and optimism of the core team to take on the tougher challenge of directly working in a community and what the new volunteers were comfortable doing.
After some days the staff completely stopped turning up or answering my calls. One evening after walking up three floors through the dirt lined walls of the housing complex, I found the door to the rooftop locked and I was the only volunteer there. No reasons were given, we were simply shut off. At that time I thought maybe the organisation was wary that we were now 'registered NGO' sharing their space. Now I feel it could have also been that the staff simply did not like to spend the extra time there. I remember standing behind the shut door in the semi-darkness and dialling Hari (in the pic on an earlier occasion) to confer. We decided immediately.
I could have tried reviving the partnership, but we simply quit. This was the last time I would teach children for another decade, but I hadn't decided then.
Have there been times, when you suddenly gave up suddenly in frustration? Leave a comment
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