Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meet Nitesh...

When Nitesh was five-years old, his brain filled with water. “His head became twice the size,” recalls his mother, “His neck could barely bear the weight of it.” Picturing Nitesh with such a heavy weight on his shoulders is difficult. Although the barely four-foot-tall 11-year old stands shorter than nearly all of his peers, he manages to carry himself with a poise and confidence of a much larger person.
Nitesh’s family, including his parents and three older siblings, relocated to Ahmedabad from a rural village in Uttar Pradesh in order to find him treatment when he fell sick. The move brought both difficulties and blessings. Although Nitesh recovered, city life presented the family with a host of new problems. Unable to afford land of their own, they pay rent for a small one-room home without electricity or a toilet. Nitesh admits that their home is small, but he does not find it a reason for stress.
“His mind is always fresh,” says his mother. Since his brain healed, no worries seem to stick in his head.”
On the other hand, many worries cycle through his parents’ minds. They are pained that their circumstances prevent them from providing their children with a more comfortable lifestyle.
“I lay awake at night and wonder how I can let my children, especially my daughters, grow up in a place without even a toilet,” Nitesh’s mother says. She considers Manav Sadhna a blessing, as they have taken care of the family in tough times, and provided her children with so many opportunities for their childhood.
Nitesh, his older brother and two older sisters are all part of Earn’n’Learn, a Manav Sadhna project that keeps slum children away from labor on the streets, by giving them a safe environment to be creative, learn, and make money for their families.
According to Nitesh, his mentors at Manav Sadhna have taught him good values such as respect and cleanliness by never giving up and always showing love to the children they work with. Nitesh explains that before coming to Manav Sadhna he used to do a lot of masti, or mischief. “I still do a lot of masti,” Nitesh said with a twinkle in his eye, “but now I’ve learned that the time for masti is after the time for learning and helping others.”
Always dressed in clean clothes and sporting smart, nearly combed hair, the four siblings shine together. “After coming here, they began to do things for each other, rather than just for themselves,” says Jagatbhai, the childrens’ mentor at Manav Sadhna.
They look out for each other with a love and compassion that gives the impression of a solid background and home life. Although their lives may not be financially solid, they have demonstrated unyielding principles and firm values.
“This is not the kind of family that puts its hand out for donations,” Jagatbhai says. “They accept the difficulties they are dealt, and continue to work hard, together, to face them.”

written with love by Pooja Shah :)

1 comment:

  1. I had the pleasure of spending a night with Nitesh and his wonderful family.
    just seeing, feeling,experiencing, being surrounded by the incredible bonds of love that flowed through every relationship around me (not just at home, but through the entire community) has been extremely powerful - it's as if the world Gandhiji writes about has come to life, and the peace is within.