Rtr. Aishita Dhawan —Pehchaan Changemaker In Training
A few months ago I was introduced to a programme called 'Pehchaan'. I did not exactly know what this programme would actually be about and what role would I have to play. After an interview session, people were enrolled into this programme. It started off with 6 leadership sessions where we heard that we were being trained to become a ‘Changemaker.'
However, most of us barely understood that term. Most of us barely even knew that a change is needed to be brought. Through these 6 leadership sessions we were sensitized about the current problem prevailing very imminently in our education system, a gap. A gap so wide that we, the privileged ones, could not even see the problem that was so prevalent in front of our eyes. However, through the multiple sessions we were taught about various situations where a 'change' was needed. A change that is to be brought by none other than 'us' - the Changemakers.
After these sessions we understood what an important mission we were getting ourselves into for the next few months. The aim was to mitigate the gap between municipal schools and private schools. These sessions not only aim to sensitizing us but also changing the way we think and most importantly the way we react to certain situations.
Our next step and one of the turning points was the slum visit. It made us aware of the living conditions of the children that we were going to mentor in the next few months. These children perform all the household chores such as; fill gallons of water and carry it for a long distance at just the tender age of 8. Along with all these responsibilities, they manage to develop an interest for studies only to find out that even in schools they are not given an equal platform. Thus, a change needs to be brought so that these voices can be heard, so that these young minds can ignite. A change so impactful, that makes this the last time we see a child out of school, that makes this the last time that a child is deprived of education.
We all know about the hardships that they face but we are never willing to dig in deep and see how hard it actually is. With only 2 weeks remaining, I wish that I can bring in the change in some manner that makes their life better in some way.
Rtr. Ayonih Mehra —Pehchaan Senior Changemaker
Pehchaan, this word means “to identify.” Identify your inner-self; identify the world around you, the good, the bad, the strong, and the weak. It makes you look at things and people from different perspectives, something that we wouldn’t do in our daily lives.
In today’s world, everyone is so busy in their lives, that nobody has time to “identify” the world around them. People have several problems going on in their lives, but no one around them knows that.
Pehchaan- bridging the gap, will enable us to identify with the world around us, with children who go through so much, but do not show it. It will enable municipal school students to identify the world around them. It will bridge the gap between private and public education.
Until I interacted with municipal school children, I was living in my bubble, minding my own business. But this interaction made a 360 degree turn in my life.
I now see my world in a different way. It has changed me and I want to bring this change in at least one person. There is so much this world has to offer, but many haven’t been able to grab the opportunity due to several circumstances. I want to be able to provide with whatever I have, to someone who cannot have it.
Gandhi, the father of our nation, said “be the change you want to see in the world”. I want to be that change, and Pehchaan is “that change” for me.
Rtr. Bushra Shaikh — Pehchaan Changemaker
Small things come in a big packages and when there is darkness, there light. If one 17 year girl can try to change something then why not others? When I joined this project I was learning new things in very unique way . Only my heart and my mind knows what my dreams are! A dream is just a dream when you sit and don't do anything, we have to work for it to become reality. Through this project I believe that there are so many things to do in life but all you have to do is believe in yourself and dream big. I changed my college after HSC to bring out my better version. I was looking for an internship when I came across this person who offered me a post of a receptionist in her clinic. Since I wanted to be independent and know the value of money, I accepted this as a part time job for my pocket money. It taught me to utilize my free time and to learn and earn to be more competitive and arguably stronger than others.
There I met a lady who is also working at the same place. She is 21 but had to face ups and down at very early age due to financial crisis and negligence ,she had to drop her education but now wants to appear for a S.S.C. examination. Sometimes situations are not always in our favour. She was in a dilemma- to appear for the exam or to continue her job. She was willing to step back from her studies just to earn for her family as she is an orphan and she knew that if she takes a leave for a month, she will be fired from her job. I mustered the courage to help her out and did her job as well as gave her tuitions so that she can give her examination and clear her S.S.C. and after that can continue her job.
It is not the matter of money but it's the values, courage, sacrifice and power of believing in oneself and the lesson of life that I learned through Pehchaan. The transformation from then to now is very fruitful and one which I will carry forward and will pass on to others so that Pehchaan will not only change few but millions of souls and minds.
Sakib Lakhani — Pehchaan Changemaker In Training
Sharing my experience about BRIDGING THE GAP programme in a few lines is obviously not easy for me. It was like a TIME MACHINE for me. I have already gained enough experience for the 5 to 10 years of my life.
The most important thing I have learnt is that “You can't give something that you don't have" and when it comes to the mentors, they had all the good qualities we needed to emulate. Each and every day, every hour and every minute of this programme taught me something. The sessions and workshops made me realize that it is important to speak in front of people to express our ideas and views and I was very bad at that.
I didn't even realize how and when my `STAGEPHOBIA’ turned into `STAGEPHILIA’ during this programme. It changed my perspective of the world. For me, it was not an ordinary programme but the journey of a "student" as a participant among 200 students to the "winner" of the programme.
You can't change what's going on around you until you start changing what's going within you!
I have heard it many times but understood it only after experiencing it. When I joined the programme I didn't think of it as a learning process but more as a time pass. However, my `it’ moment was when I was asked a question on stage and I answered it without any hesitation.
I wanted to become like my mentors (didi and bhaiya). I always wondered how they managed things. I started to learn different things from them. There were a lot of small things which I got to learn every day, every moment. My view towards the society had changed.
It was not a complete change but surely a different version of me had risen and I am still growing. Second year I became the senior Changemaker. Changemaker is a word which evokes a sense of responsibility. I never thought that I'll make it to that level. Being a part of this amazing experience, changing lives of the students and nudging them towards something better is an experience everyone does not get to live.
Pehchaan is a journey of joy, sorrow, tears, teaching and learning, getting along and being yourself. It changes you completely.
Rtr. Devanshi Mehta — Pehchaan Senior Changemaker
This project has always been very close to my heart, not because we work towards the differently privileged children, not because we students will get some social work to show on our resume. The soul reason being, it gives me happiness in a way nothing else can. In that span of five to six days, all of us become a family with an unbreakable bond. Spending time with the municipal school children, educating them towards various things, understanding their lifestyle and their tragedies, all becomes a part of you.
My first year began with a slum visit. Little did I know about the slums, I left home with a feeling of excitement and joy. The leaders of the slum visit were the alumni of the project. They showed us every part of the slum, a lot of which looked unreal to me. 4 tanks of water for 4 people, including bathing, cooking and cleaning. The water queue starts at 4 in the morning, so the children who go to school at 7AM in the morning, first help their family members with the water because of which at times they reach late to school and without any information, they are scolded at.
All I could see were the happy faces, humbleness, and the warm welcoming. Even though they were staying in such surroundings, they were so polite, offering us the water to drink, ready to make food for 15 people, making space for us to sit, however small their houses were.
I left my house with joy and excitement, but left the slums with an overwhelmed heart. That day onwards I promised myself that I will not treat the people, who provide us services, different from me. They have the same rights to be respected and they too have feelings.
Now, it's not only the leftover food items that we give away, but we ensure to cook food for the helpers in the house.
Rtr. Swara Shettigar — Pehchaan Senior Changemaker
There are times when we do things once, and then feel the need to keep doing it over and over again. For it gives us too much joy that we are never going to get tired of it. This project has been one such thing for me. When I joined this project two years ago, I was completely oblivious to the impact it is going to create in my life. Little did I know that it is going to be my most cherished project ever.
Year after year, it has helped me explore the unexplored, tap the untapped and create change. A change in others and a change in myself.
Ever heard of the term Volunesia? It's that moment when you forget your role in helping to change lives, because it's changing yours too. It has helped me find strengths that I didn't even know I possess. I never imagined that I would have a bunch of young minds look up to me in every possible way.
The things I have learnt from this project are limitless. I have learnt to value what I receive, I have learnt to find joy in little things of life, I have learnt there are people who do not get as much as I do and yet find contentment. It has changed me completely as a person, the way I look at things and the way I want this world to be.
I have learnt to look around in the best possible way, I have learnt that what you see in others exists in you.
Rtr. Karan Parekh — Pehchaan Senior Changemaker
‘Pehchaan' is that one month long wonderful project which is really close to my heart . Before being a part of this wonderful journey, I always believed myself to be an irresponsible child and always take things for granted. But after Pehchaan and especially after the slum visit I actually felt how lucky I am. How blessed I am that God has bestowed upon me his choicest blessings and given me everything I ever wanted.
Now whenever I feel that maybe I want that or maybe that's better than what I have, I just remember that slum visit and it leaves me with no other emotion but just pure gratitude.
Being a mentor for Pehchaan was a wonderful experience. I always thought that I cannot handle things and I am irresponsible but the day I had the responsibility of taking 16 kids from Lower Parel by train and then bus to HR college alone and I did my job successfully, that day was a moment of self-realization that now I am responsible and I can take care of myself and of others around me. Pehchaan has taught me many things like being aware, alert and awake to realize the difficulties others face and help them.
Now if I meet a stranger in need of help, or if I am needed in the smallest of ways, I grab that chance and make sure that I do everything I can. I feel blessed! I feel honored! I feel privileged to get this chance and to work with Freyaz ma'am. She is amazing at her work and I pray that 'bridging the gap' goes on and on and can change thousands of lives.
Ritu Priyadarshini — Pehchaan Changemaker in Training
When I signed up for Pehchaan, the only thing that I had in mind was that I want to help people in need, in some way. Little did I know that in the process I will learn so much that my father would say that “finally you are on the right track, your vision is correct, please don't divert now”.
All the Changemaker sessions designed to develop our lateral thinking were so powerful and interesting that one could do nothing but grasp and learn new things every session. Among all the programs we did under Pehchaan the most impactful one for me was the Slum Visit. I somehow felt that people in the slums do face problems but that day I realized that no amount of imagination can take the place of their actual hardships. I could have never realised the plight of people living in slums if I had not spent half a day with them doing their regular household works.
I owe a big Thank you to the Pehchaan team for helping me transform and grow throughout the whole project.
Pehchaan started as a normal Rotaract project for me, but soon turned into a life changing experience. It changed the perceptive of life for me, like value for the little things in our life and the privileges we get , that we always fail to be grateful for . The eagerness for learning in these kids eyes and the very opportunity to help them learn made me believe that even a small step can make a huge difference in many lives. The municipal school students have big dreams, and with Pehchaan I have seen them get the confidence turn their dreams into reality.
Each time I was called "Didi" and they rushed to share their problems and difficulties with me, solving and addressing them was the best feeling ever. Watching them learn and adapt to new habits and mannerisms made me more alert of my behavior for I was the one they emulated. This has helped me to become a better individual. The feeling of being a mentor and being looked up to by so many kids is what keeps me going with my work for Pehchaan.
I believe, it was this experience that has changed me and the people I’ve shared them with to be much better human beings. I also believe that change will come if we all just believe in our inner changemaker.
Pehchaan will always have a very special place in my heart, and I’m so thankful for being able to be a part of it and watch it grow. It is one for those things where you forget everything and just follow your heart.
Rtr. Sidra Shaikh — Pehchaan Changemaker In Training
My life has always been smooth with a little ups and downs here and there, but I always felt like there’s something missing. Everything that I’d do would always revolve around I, me and myself. I never had an opportunity to outdo myself and work for others.
Pehchaan not only gave me this lucky chance to reach out to the ones in need, it also made me realize how ungrateful I had been. Being a part of this beautiful project made me realize how insensitive it is to grumble about not getting a new pair of shoes, when there are hundreds who walk barefoot with smiles that can conquer the world.
Pehchaan made me appreciate all the little things in life. I am more than glad to be a part of this life changing project.