It is interesting to realize how children make you learn things that you have never thought of. Children are the ones who have actually taught me life’s greatest lessons. We do not realize this until we actually “work with children”.
I am just like you. For me children had never been so important. But that was before I stepped into my “new life”. “New life” here means my life after my higher secondary education. That new life meant many things for me including providing tuition classes to children at the SEA Home. It was then that I realized how happy my soul was. And it was also then that I decided to take ‘social work’ as a bachelor degree.
Field experience is a very important part of my social work education. Social work students are placed in various organizations. All throughout my field work in those past two years I have been placed at organizations that deal with children but in different specializations. In my 1st year, I was placed at Patan CBR, which deals with differently able children. In my 2nd year, I was placed at APC Nepal, which works for the street children around Kathmandu valley and Pokhara. That is when I started loving children so much.
In this article, I will be sharing my experiences while “working with children”. But as these experiences started with SEA, I will be talking about my experience at SEA.
Indeed, my first ever experience of working with children started at SEA itself since I have almost spent my whole life as a child here. And today I have become a mentor at the same place. Providing tuition has increased my intimacy with the children to the point that they have become my half soul.
I teach them what is wrong and what is right based on my own experience till now. I feel that elders’ sharing experience is for these children as important as book knowledge. The fact is that I not only give them informal knowledge but I also get to know their own experience before and after coming to SEA. Sometimes I feel we are friends more than “sisters and brothers”.
As a social work student, I am their counselor as well. Whenever a child is facing problems or is feeling low I try to counsel it. Luckily, I seem to succeed in giving them comfort. Perhaps it’s a natural gift or it’s the magic of the subject of my education, but I happen to read minds and facial expressions of children. So, children (mostly girls) can’t hide anything from me literally and they share it with me anyhow. Anand, a new comer from Dhading, mocks me while saying, « Ok read my mind », and I am like, « Reading minds does not mean reading it right away when asked, because I have not become a professional, yet if I really have to read your mind I will, one day ».
Whenever children have to dance, at that moment, I become their choreographer. We share happiness and joys altogether. We, the seniors in Nepal (Sarita junior, Nirdesh, Anga, Nima along with me), miss very much our sisters and brothers who are in Bangalore, but we have children to cherish at present. They fill up our loneliness. They have taught us to live with what we have. And it’s a good lesson. We, the seniors, are happy to have them, and definitely it is a feeling of “working with children”.
But firstly, the appreciation goes to our sisters who work here day and night and without whom the SEA home would not exist. These are Tara didi, Sabita didi and Apsara didi. The three of them shape our daily life at the SEA home in Nepal. Tara didi has been living at SEA for 14 years and a half now. Sabita didi for 7 years and a half, and Apsara didi has spent almost a year now with us.
So, let’s find out about their experience and views about “working with children”. So, here I have their answers from the interview that I took myself:
Q1. You have been at SEA for so many years now, so what do you think of SEA and how do you feel living here?
- Tara didi: I have been here for so long that SEA has become my own house and children have become my children, too. Sometimes I go to my house and I feel this is not mine. And I wonder: where have I come?
- Sabita didi: It’s been so long that I have been living here that SEA has become my home and the children my family.
- Apsara didi: SEA is a platform to shape children’s future.
Q2. What do you like most about SEA?
- Tara didi: children, and also I like the way we treat our guests so well.
- Sabita didi: everything, for e.g. living with children and sharing feelings and happiness and joys altogether.
- Apsara didi: I like children the most. Seniors are more like my friends to me. I like to spend time with them.
Q3. What experience would you like to share about ‘working with children’?
- Tara didi: I like encouraging children to study hard because as a care giver I want to see them grow up well and educated. I motivate them and remind them time and again how lucky they are to be at SEA where they are getting all the facilities that they had never gotten earlier. When children don’t listen to me I get worried at that time and that feeling saddens me a lot.
- Sabita didi: children call me Mummy and that makes me think I have been caring for them and loving them like a mother. I feel privileged to share motherhood with those who would have never seen or called mummy before. As soon as I set the foot in Kathmandu coming from my village I got this job at SEA. Beforehand, there were lots of seniors, who were like brothers and sisters to me. Now we have many children aged 8 years and more. I do everything for them like cleaning them, cooking food, washing clothes and all homework in a house. This experience has made me mother of these children now.
- Apsara didi: I like children a lot. I feel like they are my own brothers and sisters. There are many moments of sharing happiness and laughter, which I will rejoice till eternity. Providing service to them makes me feel responsible for their life and also makes me happy for the works I do at SEA.
Q4. Last words you would like to say about SEA?
- Tara didi: I am too grateful to SEA for having me here for so long. If possible, I would want to live all my life at SEA and with the children. I pray for enormous growth to SEA and I hope SEA will carry out this work more and more, helping destitute children. SEA has been very helpful in helping Nepali children. When their parents were losing hope, SEA has worked really hard to make their life a better place to live.
- Sabita didi: I feel lucky to be at SEA along with children. Seniors have understood why they are here and what they are getting from SEA. In days to come, I wish our juniors should also understand this and feel how lucky they are. I hope for the best for these children and SEA for its better future.
- Apsara didi: I hope for the best for SEA and children and I thank SEA for its abundant help and support.
These answers from our lovely sisters almost brought tears in my eyes. They are so passionate over what they are doing. They share a very good and mesmerizing experience of ‘working with children’ at SEA.
Children make us learn things which we have already done but have forgotten. They are, in one way or another, our flashback. They not only remind our past but they also tend to provide knowledge in different things like at tuition time I get to learn new things from their books. Which we used to read at our age and what they are reading is somewhere too vast. They make us realize how we used to be like in their age. It gives a kind a feeling of ‘seventeen again’.
Sisters like Tara didi, Sabita didi and Apsara didi and seniors like myself, Sarita junior, Nirdesh, Anga and Nima only make SEA half way but with our new generation children make SEA complete and of course a better place to live in. And we seriously feel too happy to have SEA filled up again with young and talented butterflies.
I have almost come to the end of the article but I do have to admit that letters get insufficient when I talk about SEA, our seniors, juniors and my dearest friends. People at SEA are too grateful to the untiring help and support that we are getting from SEA and giving each one of us a new life and to dream big.
Lastly, let me conclude my article with the famous quote of the famous person Oprah Winfrey who once said: « Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have you will never, ever have enough ».
Thank you SEA !
(Love from Nepal).