Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Visit to NICE

Hi Folks

Let me apologize for the long gap between my posts. I have been quite busy with my India visit...though it was for 2 weeks, it took me a month's preparation for that. And u know friends, how exciting it would be just before the week of your travel. Don't mistake these reasons to be lame excuses. There is another reason, behind the gap... Search for a Good topic for my post :) Yes, I knew my trip would bring some very good aspects to share in this blog, so I was waiting for this time. Anyways let me stop giving excuses and jump to the actual experience I wanted to share.

It was on 20th of May that I have gone to visit a very nice place called "NICE". Are you curious to know what would be the place.? It definetly is an interesting place if u have the heart for it. I wouldn’t say this is the 1st time I have ever been to such place. I have been to orphanages, old age homes, home for sick and abandoned, sisu bhavans many times. This habit has come since my schooling. Thanks to my school (Nirmala) which cultivated some good habits like this. I strongly believe and recommend schools to encourage children to donate food, clothes and money at every good. That way they will get to cultivate it as a habit. And may be some more needy people will be benefited. So by now u might have known about the place…right?

I have some history to discuss before going to the actual topic. I don't know how many of u believe if I say movies will have impact on us to a great extent...but I completely believe it. Bcoz I had some related experiences. One movie which inspired me to visit NICE was "Gamyam". This movie had a very beautiful message and brought some very good ideas of a humble and humane person into limelight. Thanks to Mr.Director for coming forward to give space to such person's effort. And the person is Mr.Purnachandra Rao. He is the founder of NICE-Needy Illiterate Children's Education, which is a school for ...maybe I shouldn’t call it a school but Home for Needy and Orphan Children. He was the man behind all the smiles and hopes of 115 needy young boys. So, after watching the movie...this man's character struck me. I was expecting it to be a real life character then. Only after 6 months, I came across an article on Mr.PurnaChandra Rao which said he was the inspiration for the movie.
Immediately I called Mr.Purnachandra Rao, the very first talk left me with an impression that he was so genuine and very dedicated person. His objectives seemed crystal clear to me. He mentioned in one of our conversations that, “we people are more blessed with many comforts, when I see those kids who do not get to enjoy even the basic necessities in life, I feel so bad for them. This need makes them hunt for money. They either work, taking up hard jobs to earn their living, or beg or get exploited. Finally they end up becoming a radical in the society or a looser in life. My motto was to bring them give all the basic stuff, make them realize the values and ethics in life. I may not make them the best but I am sure I can make them better persons in the society. So I wanted the school to focus on discipline, love and affection towards fellow beings, responsibility in life and to possess some values and ethics more than studies. I make sure that the every penny donated is properly used for their well being. And the boys to understand that there are lot of people who have very good hearts and come forward to help them live a better life. In later stages, I also wanted them to earn some good careers. That way they have the gratitude towards people and society”. I felt his motive was so clean and simple. After some more conversations, my interest to visit NICE grew to peak.

Once I planned my trip to India, I even planned to visit NICE. This School is located in Mynampadu....and that place is in Guntur District, not a hard place to find if u know Andhra. I was so exicted when I started off to this School, it took about 2.5 hours to reach the place. Scorching sun didn't matter during the Journey. The rural places seemed more interesting than previous times. Red Hot chili farms welcomed us once we neared the school. It was a colorful sight... the red chilli hanging on to the green branches. Finally it was about 12 by the time we reached NICE. Since we already informed about our visit just an hour before, Headmistress ...actually one should call her "Mother" of the NICE gave us a warm welcome.
There were two blocks, looked like newly white washed and school premises seemed very new. We directly went to Mrs.Sridevi's(Headmistress alias Mother) room. I blindly followed without noticing the instruction on the wall, which read..."please remove ur footwear here" until I was told to take them off. Felt li'l bad for what I did, but I was excused. hehe. The most impressing was the very large portrait of Swami Vivekananda hanging on the wall in her room. Another was the Art by one of faculty members there. It was a potrait with a tree's branches which had the faces of our famous freedom fighters and national leaders with a National flag backdrop. Other stuff didn't catch my eyes except for that...not meaning they weren't well organised. But, those made a lasting impression on me since I am an ardent admirer of Swami Vivekananda and Art ofcourse.

Anyways, we exchanged some introduction for a little while and about the actual person behind this, Mr.Purnachandra Rao. He wasn't present there at that time. She explained me about NICE for about half hour, then we went on to have a quick glance at the School. Another interesting aspect there was, Mrs.Sridevi...I could notice some serenity in her. Some motherly affectionate charm that she has. And maybe that is the reason, she was able to guard so many kids with affection. I should definitely appreciate her gestures. Other worth mentioning persons were two other male instructors, who appeared very balanced and quiet. When I went to each room in the school building, believe me friends...I found them absolutely clean and tidy. It didn't seem like a day's effort to make it look like that.Finally, the heroes of the story are the boys...for whose sake all this happened. I first met them in the dining hall. I was a new person to them, so they stared at me just for few mins and continued their lunch. By then, they finished their prayers and started on to lunch. I noticed that even the youngest kid was quitely and cutely having his lunch, hope u got me why I said cutely....bcoz they were so calm and clean while they ate..Generally which won’t happen with kids of that age. Isn't it Nice at NICE? We took them some sweets and distributed them. Everybody greeted a Thank You after taking a sweet.

We were requested to have lunch with rest of the folks there, we had no second thoughts and proceeded to lunch, we were offered water to wash hands n feet first and then we were hosted with some tasty Andhra Food. I felt that those kids are lucky, they were fed such a tasty and good quality food. Coz lot of such kids don’t get to eat hygiene and healthy food. We finished our lunch and the boys helped us trash the waste, offered water etc;I was just waiting to converse with those kids, and finally they finished cleaning their dining room and came out to talk. Just as me they were also curios to know about what we do, from where we came, how we knew the place n so many questions like that. One by one started asking, and in was surprising for me bcoz though the medium of instruction is English, lot of folks in rural schools, have no fluency while speaking. These guys tried,... so thanks to those instructors. I started off when they gave a from where they came..How they came...I couldn’t ask everyone. but few of them...they all folded hands while speaking..I reminded I am not their forget took some time for them to speak casually with me. I came to know the same experience from most of them, that they feel it Home at NICE...they said they didn't want go home..though some of them had atleast 1 parent...,bcoz NICE makes it feel home for them always. Also they all looked very happy and peaceful. The boys seemed like they didn’t want to recollect their past except for couple of them.

Mrs. Sridevi also said to me that, most of the boys while they started their life at NICE used to be very depressed and dull. And she added it took them from 6 months to 1 year to get normal with other boys. Also she said that, we look for lot of comforts in our daily routines, thinking that they are not just comforts but necessities, whereas these boys love and respect the very basic necessities more than any comforts. It is true, I felt I am so blessed to have this life though at times during problems I feel low; I thought I should remember them and feel happy for what God has given to me.Discipline was the most attracting and striking aspect of theirs, they were very well organized with their things and schedule. Actually, Schedule is not a right word,…it symbolizes more formal way of what I meant. It’s their habit, to do and maintain things on time. I felt that the regular urban, sophisticated schools do not teach such levels of self discipline. I remarked the same with Mrs. Sridevi.

I got a chance to see the Library room at the school which was also very clean and tidy. I heard that the boys have 1 hr in their schedule to spend at the library. There are quiet good volumes of books which lot of private schools lack in India. They also have space and time to play…heard the boys like to play Cricket than any other game. Not surprising at all..Right? after all its India’s favorite Sport. I got some pictures with some of the boys…they were all excited to get clicked in the photograph just as me.

Meanwhile we were taken to the very famous Lord Shiva temple nearby. Back to school, I was offered lemon sharbath, which was really cool treat in such a hot summer. The same drink they offer to boys everyday in summer. Doesn't it seem like a Residential Urban School? Then after we went on with a quiet relaxing conversation about the naughty stuff the boys do. After all they are boys!
That was the end of the visit and we bid adieu to the faculty and the Boys and started to drive back. I could sense some very good feeling of satisfaction on our way back. Immense pleasure surrounded me….believe me it was like this after the visit. And deep thoughts which kept pondering in my mind about why God has created so many differences? I don’t want to get philosophical, ..but why there are so many differences in his creations, why only some of them are blessed and some of them cursed?? What about those orphan kids who don’t even have shelter and food? Many questions haunted me before I took a deep sigh and said to myself, I will do my part..Rest is to the Almighty.
Another worth mentioning group is, the Founder, Faculty and Volunteers. Its becoz, with out their dedication and hard work, All that wouldn't have happened. Its easy to donate and visit such place than to work for it. It shouldn't be done like a every other work, it needs lot of pateince. I guess, the crew deserve appreciations.

Let me clarify some questions and doubts that strike my readers on reading this. Please don’t mistake me, thinking that I wrote this down to win publicity personally. Absolutely not. My major intention behind this post is that I wanted to share my experience and bring the school into limelight. This way, some more people get to know about NICE and extend their helping hands in building a better society. I request u friends to come forward and do ur part. Never mind about the amount of contribution except for the heart u have to do such activity. Money is not a sole object of donation, …food, clothing, books, service…everything is accepted and respected as well. If any of u wish to donate please leave me a message, I can give u more details.

Thanks for reading!