The past one month I have been working with C-NES, although I have never thought very highly of NGOs having worked with two before I have found most of them on the whole quite unnecessary, unorganized and in one case lacking substantial motive. You see the initial gusto which characterizes a pertinent issue usually fades, interests wane and it becomes redundant. What we are left with is only a poor depiction of a previously brilliant initiative. But this was different, this was an NGO dedicated to not an issue or a cause, but it was dedicated to a purpose, a clear, defined, concrete service. Consequently their organization was evidently impeccable, dedication unwavering and results unquestionable, and obvious to any outsider with minimal observational capacity.
The NGO is mostly centered around conducting research and studies on various aspects of the social issues pervading the state of Assam and those nearby. Even interns aren’t to laze around admiring the trees outside the office and enjoying endless afternoon siestas, but are only inducted on the condition of conducting a project on an issue, a detailed study. I was working with the office in Guwahati editing and compiling reports. It was through these reports that I read, in detail, of the main programme of the NGO, the initiative of providing health care to the lakhs of people living in the inaccessible island districts of the state. Overlooked for their demographic, geographic, political and social isolation. The NGO in collaboration with the NRHM has 20 doctors and specially equipped boats each making 15 trips a month (approximately) to the island districts. Not only providing them much needed health care but also educating them on it.I had the opportunity of being present in one of these trips. I was a little apprehensive of what I might encounter and that in all probability it would be disappointing but I was pleasantly surprised, in fact shocked to see the commitment of the people working with the boat clinic. It is definitely not pleasant to walk long distances in sweltering heat, wading through water, mud, dung and an odd mixture of all three and to do it day after day, month after month knowing that in all probability it is a never ending exercise, because in many villages the people aren’t willing to let the pill or education go down their throat easily.Although to me it was an exciting experience, I fully understand that it wouldn’t be if it had to be done over the period of a year. Things lose their novelty upon overuse, in fact a sense of dullness and distaste creeps into the wanderlust which had previously gripped us. The people in the boat were exceptionally amiable. I observe more than talk and I saw a lot of things which will remain etched in my memory as images, in retrospection a lot of my notions were not only put to question, but had worn out, the persistence of the people working with the clinic in the face of adversity made me realize the importance of hope. The insolence of it, to blind people with the promise inherent (possibly) in the future.Their dedication not only to their work but also to any other aspect not pertaining directly to their work, things which were not technically required of them but they in all humility still obliged, it was if I may use a clichéd term ‘heart rendering’. This was illustrated in the DPO taking an interest in my project, accompanying me to every school in every char, arranging for me to meet the headmaster/teacher, being present while I conducted the interview, acting as interpreter when required, he did all this and much more without it being required of him, I, would have been perfectly capable of having done all those things by myself but his assistance was irreplaceable.On the whole it was an overwhelming experience, I’m fully aware of the word I have used but I couldn’t think of any other which could capsulize my emotions better. I’m at this moment, frankly, overwhelmed.By the river, you see, although I’m predisposed to love the Brahmaputra it was only in such close proximity that I saw and felt the magnificence of it.Overwhelmed by many things that I have possibly learnt, what I might have learnt in the trip are still topics which in retrospection are still debatable, the conclusion still undecided, but what I can be sure of is how easily notions made by a clear mind in drawing rooms can so easily shatter in the enlightened face of experience.
While me and another intern were talking about many things under the sun, we touched upon the subject of our generation, and her experience of having gone all across a state surviving on nothing but goodwill and kindness. It struck both of us that we might actually be at the precipice of changing times. Of an awakening, like the one of scientific enlightenment and breaking from the chains of age old beliefs and religion centered education, I’m talking of The Renaissance, like the mechanical enlightenment, I’m talking of industrialization, the chances of us being at the verge of an awakening, one of the conscience, of the gradual realization that we must give as much as we take. The chances of such are low, but you see that is why hope is so insolent, it persists even when you think it shouldn’t, the bleak possibility that what we want to see ‘might’ come true and the faith we have in it, is, after all what makes the world even distantly inhabitable.
May-June 26 ‘2010
Binita Kakati,is a Second year student of Sociology at the Lady Shri Ram College For Women. Her interests are centred around reading, writing, Anthropology and travelling.