It’s all about the little steps that we choose to take everyday
Contributed by: Shiviksha Kaushik
Daan Utsav, formerly known as the Joy of Giving week, was celebrated across the country from 2nd October to 8th October this year. This week is celebrated every year that engages people across the country who individually or collectively experience the joy of giving, not just money but also their time, skills, resources or anything in an individual’s capacity.
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Strongly believing in this quotation by Oscar Wilde, Project KHEL has been participating in this celebration year after year. This year, alike the previous two, our members along with the volunteers went on the streets to become a hawker for an evening. Being a new joinee in the organization, it was the first time I was going to be a part of something so meaningful. Stepping into the hawkers’ shoes and living their lives for a few hours was an extremely humbling experience. You see the world from a totally different perspective when you’re on the other side of the line.
On 6th October, around 24 people gathered at the Janeshwar Mishra Park (JMP) to discuss about the following evening and then divided themselves into two groups. One of them stayed back at JMP while the other team went to Riverfront. All of us went to the child hawkers first and asked them if they would like to play or rest for a few hours while we sell their ware for them. They handed us over balloons, bubbles, popcorn and some other wares with the brightest smiles on their faces.
I wasn’t sure if I’ll be able to sell it off for them but the only thing that made me to do it was the disappointment I would have seen on their faces had I not been able to deliver what I had promised them. I didn’t think much or prepare a pitch, I just went to the first person I saw who was playing with his child. As soon as I approached him with 6 balloons in hand, he refused to talk to me. He didn’t listen and turned his back towards me. I was angry, but then I realized that is what most of us do, simply turn a blind eye towards the hawkers we see every day…
Soon after that first bad experience, I started taking more time with each person to explain them what Daan Utsav means, where are we from and why are we doing what we are doing. Almost everyone from thereon started to resonate with the idea and appreciated the work we were doing. There were people who reluctantly bought it and there were people who gave five times the money for a Rs. 10 bubble. However, one incident that I will never be able to forget was when I went up to two friends and asked them to buy a bubble, they did not even let me complete my pitch and took all the bubbles I had in hand and paid twice the worth of those bubbles. On asking why, he said that he might not be able to do what we’re doing so this is the bare minimum he can do to appreciate our efforts. Small incidents like this strengthen our will as an individual and as an organization to put in our maximum efforts in the work we’re trying to do and impact we’re trying to create.
While selling her bubbles, Kanchan, the girl whose items I was selling, accompanied me throughout the evening. She did not want to play or rest and was having fun in just roaming around with me watching me sell her bubbles. After an hour of selling she asked me if I was thirsty because of speaking and selling for such a long time, so she could get me some water. To see a child so considerate is what gives me hope of having a better future for our country where there is more of humanity and less of greed. She also kept asking me where I was from and what Daan Utsav really means. Post that she told me where she goes to study and how she earns money from selling these bubbles in the evening. Both of us were together for hours and we spoke almost all the time except when we were making a sale. Every time she spoke and told about her life, I kept reflecting on how it is so different from mine and while we see so many hawkers like Kanchan every day, we never really care about what place they are coming from. I think it’s all about the little steps that we take every day that make us realize things we’ve always been ignorant to.
Just like Kanchan, there were a lot of other hawker kids our team helped. While a few wanted to accompany our team members in selling, we engaged most of them in playing Frisbee and volleyball. Among these kids were two little girls who told us that they were extremely happy to play because they hadn’t been able to since more than a year. Our volunteers gave their maximum energy to have fun with these kids for whatever little time we had with them.
Seeing us play with these kids, a group of students, who had come from Bikaner to attend a Science festival in Lucknow, asked if they could join us. They couldn’t resist being a part of it because they thought there was no other way better than this to spend their evening. While a few of them engaged in playing with kids, the others went to sell bubbles and balloons. This was one of the highlight moments we experienced as a team, when we realized that people were actually noticing us, our efforts but most importantly because we were able to impact and encourage random people by simply doing the work that we were doing.At the end of the day, all of us together had managed to earn double the amount of what the kids usually earn and handed over all of it to them. All of them showered us with hugs and asked if we’ll visit them again anytime soon.
I don’t know if they will remember us for the intentions with which we sold their wares or whether they’ll only remember us for the money we earned but I’d be doing this again next year and what really will make me do it again is the happiness that the kids got by doing just whatever they wanted to for those three hours and the joy of giving that I received during the same time. And isn’t that Daan Utsav all about?