In India, I met a lot of great people – people who braved hardships; people who made great changes to their community; people who gave up their lives to help people.
I met Isaac, a Physics graduate who decided to help all the children in his orphanage first, before getting a ‘proper job’. Then there was Chinnaiah, the only educated man in his village, who refuseed to marry until everybody in his village was educated.
These are but a few people we met when we were in India from 31 March to 11 April 2012. A group of us – 10 students from Singapore Polytechnic to be exact -- flew to Tamil Nadu to carry out a Student In Free Enterprise (SIFE) project.
I had the privilege of working with Chinnaleh (man standing on my right) in my SIFE project.I was assigned as the team writer but I had too much respect for them to write a cliche story about how meeting them in India made me thankful for what I have. When comparing myself to these great people, I found I was but a mere pawn in the greater plan.
A wise man told me while I was in India, “You guys are just doing community service – he is in it for life.”
I beg to disagree. I wasn’t there for community service. Although I genuinely wanted to help, my place in the grand scheme of things was very much shallower.
I was working to win a competition for my school to build my portfolio, and my school will joined the competition to build their reputation – this was the carrot-based structure cleverly devised by a non-profit organisation who genuinely wanted to help the community. I am at the bottom of the structure.
Some of the lovely children I met
But the great people I met in India are at the top. Though they had significantly fewer opportunities to shine, they managed to pull through and helped their community in ways that I have never dreamt of achieving.
I would love to tell the world about my trip to India – the hot weather, the singing in the van, the poor living conditions I witnessed, the strong friendships I made, the constant fear of being mugged in the city, being made to dance with the children, and the frequent power cuts – but to what end? We don’t need to know about me.
My story is but secondary to those of the great people in India who are an inspiration to us who are still at the bottom.
Written by Cai Deshun,
Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media