So everyday for the past year or so, I give our children rickshaw or bus money to get back home after practice. There are people like Sanjay and Devram, who live in Jamalpur, which is quite far from the Gandhi Ashram, but with the use of a Shuttle rickshaw (group rickshaw) and Bus, they are able to make a round trip in 30 rs. It may take them 45 minutes to an hour to go from home to practice.
Then there are our Shankarbhuvan Slum kids (Dipmala, Dharmaji, Vishal, Asha, Vicky and Bhavnik) who all squeeze into a rickshaw and get to Shankarbhuvan for a 30 rs. Rickshaw ride one-way. That’s a little distance away.
Chandani , Priyanka and Gaurang all have unique ride situations, for they all live even farther away.
But there are 4 girls, Payal, Bharti, Krishna and Nikita, who live closest to the Gandhi Ashram, in what is known as the biggest slum in Gujarat, Rama Pir No Tekro. Now these are four really tiny girls, who, when we started were afraid to walk to practice without an escort. Now they go back and forth by themselves.
But a fun interesting thing happened today:
Well, yesterday I gave them 20 rupees for their rickshaw ride back home. They were supposed to take the 20 rs. rickshaw ride to the further entrance to the slum which is closer to their homes and then walk to practice in the morning. It’s 106 degree weather right now, I definitely don’t want any of them walking in the afternoon time in the sun. So I suggest they take the rickshaw in the afternoon and walk in the morning, since they are close enough. Basically I don’t want them to feel that we can just spend money whenever and wherever our comforts desire.
So anyways, today I had to come to practice late because of work I had to get done before reaching. When I came to join the kids for lunch, all four girls tell me they have a surprise for me after lunch. A surprise from our girls! Love it! And sometimes they get creative with their gifts to others.
After lunch and before practice ended, they say “Nimesh Sir, please wait, we want to give you your surprise”. Hah!! I’m cracking up. They’re too cute. For like 2 minutes, all four of them are shuffling in Bharti’s purse, searching for their surprise.
Finally…..(drum roll please)…They pull it out. It’s fifteen rupees. Then they look at my face for a reaction. I don’t give one. They ask, so do you know what the surprise is. I said, “No”…I was trying to think how they reached home yesterday and came to practice today on only five rupees. Something was not adding up.
The girls in an excited voice finally told me, they all hopped on a bus (India busses are rough and this was a highly unexpected maneuver by these girls!) to Vadaj, and then walked from there to home to save money and also try something new. And then they walked to practice this morning (8am, so not as hot then).
I was excited. They all truly broke out of their comfort zone and were happy and proud of it. This group of 4 girls, tend to get scared the most and would never have gone on a bus by themselves and then walked from the big bus station to their homes. A beautiful suprise it was!!
Small things...Beautiful to see them grow.