Connecting local responses around the world
I was part of a team that visited a village called Moopanpatti in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, South India. We were there to facilitate a dream-building exercise in the village community as part of a SIAAP CLCP workshop. Once the group was mobilised, largely comprising of women, the team members encouraged them to dream about what they wished for their village as well as themselves. They shared about facilities that they needed such as a primary school, hospital, etc. When we explored with them how they would like their lives to be transformed, one of the boys remarked, “We would like to have a car”. Immediately, he proceeded to draw cars in front of all the houses drawn on the chart paper. Quite spontaneously, a little boy remarked, “Then we need a mechanic shop”, while another suggested, “A petrol pump also”. We stood there like goldfish opening and closing our mouths, totally dumbstruck by their capacity to respond. Another boy wanted a swimming pool in his village, when his friend asked, “Will we have more chances of a Tsunami then?” (this exercise was facilitated a few days after a powerful Tsunami struck Japan).
One little boy standing next to me shared that a wine shop must also be part of their dream. Immediately, an elderly lady pounced on him and said, “I’ll slipper you…like father, like son….don’t ever say these things again”. The little boy became very quiet and withdrawn; when I bent down to look at his face, I noticed tears. I put my arm around the boy’s shoulders and comforted him saying, “It is not your fault…you said whatever you knew. When you grow into a big boy, you will also have chances of knowing more…so, it is alright…don’t feel bad about what you have just shared”. The boy seemed to perk up a little. Then, in an attempt to make him feel better, I asked him, “Do you like your village dream? What else would you like there?” The boy replied in the affirmative by nodding his head. I noticed a slight twinkle in his eye as he replied, “A school”. Upon exploring further, we realized that he wanted a high school. Picking up the cue, my colleague who was standing next to me yelled out to the group requesting them to change the primary school as depicted in the chart to a high school as per the boy’s wishes.
Later on, as I was walking towards my group to join them, this little boy stopped me on the way and put out his hand. Surprised at his gesture and sudden appearance, I took his hand in mine. The boy looked into my eyes and said, “You have built my self-confidence…thanks”. I was speechless and walked back with a lump in my throat and moist eyes. How much depth and reflection in a little child! What a long way a little support can go to make a child feel reassured. It was a very gratifying experience.