Facilitator at Snehadhara, Lakshmi Karunakaran talks about her journey of working with children and how she has learnt the most powerful lessons from the children she works with.
I have resisted the urge to work with children for a long time. Children had no place in the corporate world that I belonged to, of deliverables and deadlines, clients and boardroom meetings. But two years ago, I left the corporate world to work with children.
To concerned family members and friends, I had nothing more than ‘that is what my gut says’ as ‘logical explanation’. That I guess, was my first step backwards…towards becoming ‘childish’.While for the rest of the adult world, ‘childish’ was a term for irrational behaviour, and illogical thinking, for me, it was something I wanted to be. Soon I realised that the reason I was drawn to working with children was to get in touch with, and nourish the child in me, who in many ways was arrested in growth.
Shortly after I left the corporates, I moved to a small village in Kolar, and took a year off to live in a village and work with Government schools. I realised that the children in rural India might seem deprived to a privileged urban youngster, but they have strong instincts and an earnestness that none of the city dwellers can match. Over the last two years, I have worked with varied population of children, from government schools and slums, children with special needs, and children with learning difficulties and disorders.
Children are the kindest teachers. They have held the clearest mirror in front of me. They have gently nudged me to understand my strengths and limitations, and helped me see them and myself differently. While each child I have come in contact with has deeply nourished me, I am reminded of a few who have taught me valuable lessons that I have taken back home. Some of the children are those I worked with at the Govt schools, the others are children at Snehadhara.
Dilip – One look of kindness is worth a million words.
Chitra- The violence that you see in your home and community, can never tear down the compassion in your heart.
Illias – Storytelling is a powerful transformational tool.
Fatima – You can change the course of another’s life by just being yourself.
Ahan- Always seek clarity in everything that you do.
John – There is so much joy in drawing.
Naman – It’s OK to disagree, especially when you ‘know’ what you are talking about.
Nihal- The life force in you is powerful, and it will guide you. Gently.
Srujan – You don’t have to be old to be wise.
Naren – Life is a musical journey.
Arvind – There is immense joy in small things.
Archana –The enthusiasm to learn is half the learning itself.
Each of these children, are now a part of me. The valuable lessons they have taught me have become guiding forces for the work that I do with myself and the children that I will work with in the future. Those, who will help me in my journey backwards, of becoming a child again.