What it means to volunteer for Smile foundation and work with children

Most of the time, we hope for things to get better, we criticize the current situation and we blame those around us. It is human nature to seek all blame and all solutions outside of oneself. But every now and then, a few of us push ourselves to break out of this set of behavioral norms. We sometimes decide to do our little bit. For some of us, that little bit may be taking our own bags to the grocery store rather than taking plastic ones, deciding to use public transport instead of personal vehicles that add to pollution or writing an article or a blog making the world aware about the injustices certain groups face or making them aware of their own follies. For a few, there is nothing that can compare with working towards a better future. One where children who were starving until yesterday can put a roof on the heads of their entire families and can prepare feasts on their dinner tables tomorrow by making a little bit of an effort today.

Every drop in the ocean counts. Smile Foundation believes that unless members of the civil society involve themselves proactively in the process of development and devote effort to the cause Smile is working for, the welfare of children and their families, sustainable change cannot be brought about. Volunteers are the backbone of this organization. They do their part through the effort they put in when working for the children at Smile education centres, but also spread the message far beyond just the organization itself. They inspire those around them and a chain of well meaning people follows them contributing a little effort to the cause whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Students at Smile’s Mission Education centres are extremely eager to study. You may recall scenes from your own childhood or that of your siblings or children, crying and whining about not wanting to go to school. The parents scolding the child and telling him or her that he or she must go to school in order to become something in life often follow this scene. The children from Mission Education Centres don’t go through such a ritual. Their parents don’t beg them to go to school and they do not cry about not wanting to go either. In fact, they are often expected to join their parents’ efforts in bringing home the bread well before their time. Their circumstances deny them an education, yet they are eager to chase after it. They are attentive in class and don’t let a single instruction slip past unheard. The Mission Education Centre is the one place where they can be happy, learn, be nurtured and get regular meals, as their parents are too busy earning a daily wage for survival to shower any significant amount of attention on their children.

The children are so deprived of attention that they immediately form a deep bond with the volunteers and teacher whose care they are under. The children live in small shacks near where their parents earn their daily wage, and many travel miles even at the tender age of five to reach the school. Sometimes they hitchhike which seems almost adorable until one realises how unsafe this is, but we also realise the heart with which these children yearn for an education. Nowadays, even their parents have realised the importance of an education and the role it plays in helping them obtain a life of some dignity. Many of the students come back to the centres and use their education to do good to the other children like them. After seeing the struggle and determination of the children first hand, a volunteer always leaves with a sense that something truly good is coming out of the effort and time they have spent bonding with the students.



Malika Singh

Intern in the communication team at Smile Foundation, Student:M.A. English at Jesus and Mary College

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