Jaya wakes up bright and early in the morning to help work at the fields because her parents had to go to the city to work. The green expanse was waiting for her as usual: soil ready to be tilled and vegetables ready to be plowed. She never complained about the early sacrifices she had to make. She would get the children ready for school then her and her three siblings would walk to school. After coming back home, she would have to do chores and make sure her siblings are fed. They will be doing other miscellaneous work around the house or selling some fruits at the market. Her parents would come later in the evening then she would be free to come to my NGO’s night school. She is my client.
Initially, I was excited to work with an NGO that dealt in education because I am passionate about education. I thought by virtue of working with an NGO, I was already making a difference. My task was to design a water theme park and create a brochure for my NGO’s night school. The water theme park would make the students understand different aspects of water which will make them more conscious about water use. The brochure would be good for giving the NGO exposure and maybe might help raise more funds for the program. A co-worker of mine asked me, after my first week, “How are you making a difference?” This question dawned on me as odd but I gave him the answers I mentioned above. “What would you want these children to have that you can give?” I contemplated for a while and realized that working for an NGO does not automatically mean you are making a difference. The task is to take initiative to use your skills in meaningful ways.
In addition to the required work, I am now starting a teaching program that helps students get ready and prepared for their careers. A lot of the students want to be teachers, doctors or chattered accountants but they do not know how to get there. I also believe in active citizenry so I will be joining the Design For Change team who inspire brainstorming sessions where students could find problems in their communities, come up with innovative solutions and implement these solutions. This might not make a huge difference but it taps into my skills and passions.
I hope Jaya will reach her dream of becoming a teacher and maybe, she might start helping her siblings with homework or other members of her community. The NGO is not an institution that can do much on its own, your initiative and skills are important, most important to your client: Jaya.