Monday, September 04, 2006

Anarben's story- part 2

I have learned that if I want to do something for the community, I need to change my habits.

I have learned and grown not necessarily from seva work itself, but from the people. And its not just the communities and people that I am working to serve, but volunteers also. One big thing to learn from NRI volunteers is openness. For example, a few years back, two Indicorps fellows were working at Manav Sadhna. Anjali and Bindi had prepared a survey form for the tekra and were discussing it with each other. They didn’t notice me behind, when one of them said, “If we show this to Anarben, she’s only going to find faults in it.”

For a second, I was hurt, but then I began to think. Instead of taking it as an insult, this was an opportunity to look at myself. If this was the perception they have of me, I need to change. So in that instance, I resolved not to say anything negative about that form and ultimately, I even helped them do some of the surveying using the exact form they created. From them, I became aware of the fact that I did not show my appreciation or gratitude and have made more of an effort to do so.

The community has also taught me many lessons. I’ll give you an example from a walk that Jayesh and I participated in along the Narmada. One evening, we were told to find our own food. If we couldn’t find food, we’d have to go hungry. Jayesh and I decided that we were going to eat with the poorest family we could find. So we set out on our search. Along the way, we found a family sitting under a tree. They were cutting wood. The family was from out of town, had no home and was very poor. We began to play with the kids, made them a swing off the tree and became friends with them. Through the kids, we were able to connect to the family. We told the family that we would eat with them that evening and they were absolutely thrilled. We set a time to come back and went on exploring.

In the evening, we set out to meet the family. We bought some vegetables, etc thinking that we would all cook and then eat together. Since the family was poor, we expected that they would be a shak made of potatoes and onions, so we bought greens. When we came back to the tree, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The family had beautifully cleaned an area, lined the edge with branches and logs and prepared it for our dinner. The food was already cooked and the shak was made of green vegetables! Jayesh and I could barely eat because we had tears in our eyes.

As we ate with them, I couldn’t help but think about how middle class society and myself included feed people. The entire evening was so full of love and the family had put their heart into the food. When people come over to eat, do we feed them with love? If someone well-to-do is coming over, we prepare a lavish meal with a variety of dishes, but what if the person coming to eat is poor? Had I ever fed anyone with so much love??

From that day, I resolved to feed every person who came into my house with love. Rich or poor, I was not going to see a difference. Since then, we have fed countless people. They are always people coming and going in our home now, even when we are not there, people come and eat in our home.

[Scribe's note: This is absolutely true. Living with Jayeshmama and Anarmami over the last few weeks, I have seen a countless number of people come in and out of the home. Each person is treated with the same amount of love and respect and fed with pure love.]

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