me and my student having a good time

A Trip That Changed Me: Kechla Diaries

It was that time of the year again. Another compulsory assignment from my school. Me and my friends were dreading this project since it was handed over. This time it was for a community service program. My family and I have been trying to do our best for community causes since I remember; it is something my family has always encouraged me to do. We even have dinner table discussions on the same matter and why it is so important to support causes. Little did I know this was going to be a trip that will leave me delighted.

This is my experience in Kechla, a tribal village in the heart of the state of Odisha. Aurobindo Ashram runs a school for the children of the village and in an effort to develop their learning; I travelled here recently for a few days. Kechla is to be found in a dazzling place, secluded in the ethnic tribal belt of the state while hills and cosmic water bodies surround the school. I had never seen stars sparkling so brightly. That’s when I realised the ailing power of pollution and traffic in cities. I loved that the only traffic jams here were from buffaloes, cows, goats or sheep crossing the unconstructed roads. The nights were still, silent and peaceful and during the day, the children played as unruly as they would anywhere on the globe. So here’s how my days went by in this wonderful little village of Kechla.

Every morning from 8 AM to 12 PM I would teach the children at the school. I taught them concepts of physics, chemistry, and mathematics of 9th standard. I also conducted tests at the end of the session, emphasizing on oral questions to improve quick analytical abilities and command over their English.

3 PM to 5PM was our fun time; we would engross ourselves in extra-curricular activities. I taught them some music, which I enjoy the most. I taught four children to play the guitar and eight children to play the flute. Must say they were a bunch of talented kids since they learnt quite fast. The amusement that came over faces every time I would take out my instruments was the purest form of joy that I had seen. It only made me happier than I already was. The kids were full of stamina and energy too. There were football and basketball courts where we played almost every day and they won most of the times. It was exhilarating.

From 6 PM to 8 PM we would do ‘Shraam Daan’. Shraam Daan here entails service towards household activities in the ashram. The activities here included cutting/peeling vegetables/gardening/washing clothes, basically a display of community service for integrated household lifestyle. I also discovered the true meaning of cultural difference here. There are teens and kids with a passion for change who are growing up not knowing what it’s like to have a smart phone or Facebook. They have a totally different way of life. The atmosphere, be it at school or at home is disciplined. Everyone slept and woke up on time. They did everything so punctually and in a regimented manner that I was pleasantly surprised.

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