Capillary has always been a place where people treated life as more than work. Everyone has their passions, and the company openly encourages people to pursue them. In fact, the company has even supported employees who left the company to work on their projects. The result of all this is an open environment where conversations with colleagues always have a certain warmth to them, even when we put across differing perspectives. Many of us were vocal about societal issues that were outside of work, but we never had an avenue to work towards bringing a positive change that we all asked for.
Gladly, this changed a few weeks ago when the company sent a mail informing us of a more active collaboration with Bal Utsav, an NGO that is bringing a change with focus on Education. As part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Initiative, we planned to clean and paint the Immadihalli Government High School in Whitefield, Bangalore.
About 20 of us from Capillary went to the school last Friday. We worked in two groups, focusing on painting classrooms and on cleanliness in the school premises. Built on land donated by people of the Immadihalli village, the school was surprisingly spacious and well maintained for its size.
After our team leader Shailendra divided us into two groups of ten each, I genuinely thought that it was going to be a cakewalk. Ten of us would take no more than an hour to make the already decent premises better, and then, we would assist those painting the classrooms. It was only later we found out that like most problems we solve at work, it is far more challenging to do something right than it looks like on the surface.
Cleaning more than 70% of what we intended to took less than an hour. But, the real challenge was when we found *stuff* that had no place in schools. It got worse, as we approached the main boundary of the school that was unfortunately used by a few as a garbage dump.
From the beginning, we knew that cleaning the premises for the sake of it was pointless, because all our hard work could be undone in a week. Our initial recommendation to keep the premises clear of what we found was to lock the school premises after hours. But, our partner at Bal Utsav told us that because the land was donated by the villagers, they wanted access to the playground and premises at all times. Our next idea was to put a board, requesting people to not litter the place or use it for unintended activities, but we had mixed opinions on whether it would work too. So, we decided to get the boundaries painted and to install dustbins with the hope that we humans do not want to spoil clean places, and that given an alternate accessible option, we use them, again based on science.
In the classrooms too, the story was similar. With 20 of us, I expected that it would be a simple task to paint the four rooms planned for the day. But, after returning from the first activity, I realized how I repeated the mistake of not understanding the problem.
The classrooms had old paint that peeled off in many areas. Add to that, many charts that the students have set up in the classroom wore off, and stuck in bits across the walls. Under the guidance of the four painters present to help us, we first scraped the walls to remove the paper and evened out the surface. We then used putty to make the surface even. The professionals had started with repainting the roof, and we followed them with painting the walls, the windows and then the doors. It was 4.30 in the evening by the time we completed three rooms, and I should admit that a few of us were happy that we ran out of paint. We left for the day shortly after that.
The day reiterated a belief that I held for long (but forgot when it mattered) — with almost everything, what we think is a problem is never the actual problem. It is only by trying to solve it, we know the real deal, and that is where the actual solving of the problem begins.
Before we left for the day, we went back to the rooms to take photographs. In the clean room that now smelled of paint, I could see a smile on all faces, happy that they have done something good, and also perhaps for having their own personal lesson.
Note: We have decided to get more active now on, with a plan to spend 3 volunteer days every year. The details are not yet final, but we are quite sure that we want to do our one percent to make this world a tiny bit better.
Experiences shared by : Krushidhar R@Capillary