This post was originally written by 14 year old me on my previous blogging platform on October 2nd 2015
This summer, I got the opportunity to work with a Non Government Organization in India. It all started when I arrived in India to visit my grandparents. I researched on the internet about different Nonprofits that were looking for volunteers, and the one that caught my eye though, was a NGO that worked with young children, who were in conflict with the law. These children were boys who ranged from 5 years old to 17 years old. They were usually in trouble with the law for some form of substance abuse. My interest in becoming a lawyer at that time, motivated me to choose this organization. I sent an email to them asking for any volunteering opportunities, and I scheduled a meeting with the founder of the organisation.
The next week, I went to the nearest Society for Promotion of Youth and
Masses' office and I was surprised to see that the person who created the organisation had earned a variety honorable awards, even from the President of India. At first he misunderstood me for a college student due to my height, but after I told him that I had just graduated middle school, the first question he asked me was why I wanted to volunteer? I wasn’t very surprised when he asked me this question, because the concept of volunteering and community service isn’t really enforced on the young generations in India. I answered that I was interested in learning about the children, and making a difference in society. I also said that the actions I take now, will transform society, and even me as a person. He responded that since I was a minor, I wouldn’t be able to work with the children, but I would be able to perform some other jobs that don’t require child interactions.
The following day, I went to the juvenile program at SPYM. The car ride to the place took two hours, and it felt like forever. I walked into the building, and I was shocked to see that there were really young kids at the facility. The program manager began showing me around, and introduced me to the project I would be working on. He said that I would get to work on the documentation aspect, since I wasn’t allowed to meet the children. He assigned me a few case studies, that were basically notes taken from counseling sessions the children had attended. He wanted me to convert these notes, into a story about and reveal how they landed in this facility based on the notes.
I began writing the case study accounts, and as I was reading them, I could see the different walks of life people came from. I was able to closely examine the different reasons the children sought comfort in substance abuse. I concluded that the children were influenced by their parents' habits of smoking, and/or were pressured by their peers into taking up drugs.
After reading all the case studies thoroughly, I could conclude that child negligence was probably the main reason the children sought substance abuse.
I worked on the project for around 3-4 hours everyday for a week. I despised the two hour commute to the place, but I persisted. On the final day of my project, the person in charge, let me observe what they teach the children. I went into the classroom at the facility, and saw that they used examples of celebrities to teach the children about substance abuse. When I asked why, they said it was because the children could recognize the public figures, and could identify a past similar to theirs. At this point I even asked why there were young children at the facility? He answered that many times, the kids are there because they were found on a scene of crime that involved alcohol or drugs. In many cases the child has not done anything, but since they have seen what has taken place, they don't want that to influence the child's future behaviour, so the child is brought to their facility. I felt very enlightened after receiving these answers.
At the end of my summer trip, I felt very accomplished. I had seen a part of the country that most people hadn't, and the best part was I could contribute towards helping it. Picking this project up was a great choice I made for myself. I was able to learn about juveniles in conflict with the law and help them.