Friday, April 6, 2012

Finding Inner Peace in Ladakh

The article I sent to the Dr Reddy's initiative for employees: My personal story of change.....

About a year back, August 2011, I had volunteered to teach science and dance at SECMOL School, Ladakh (The Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) for about two weeks. SECMOL is a unique school that admits school dropouts from Ladakhi villages for about a year as part of a foundation program to improve their basics. They accept volunteers all year round to help assist the permanent staff in teaching the children. The students are mostly 16-17 years old but they are very unlike any 17 year old you would come across in a city because they manage the everyday running of the school and the hostels.

Responsibilities of cleaning, cooking, feeding the cows, going to town to get supplies, general administration is all handled by the students. And they do this in addition to attending all the subject classes and special cultural classes conducted by the volunteers. The most amazing part is that they do everything with the same enthusiasm and spirit. Be it learning dance or difficult equations in math or cleaning the toilets or carrying buckets of water up a slope multiple times a day, anything and everything with the same happy smile on their face and a song on their lips. The school has a policy of recycling or reusing in different forms almost everything they need to live like compost toilets and solar heating panels. The one which hit me hard was the compost toilets; believe me, that is very very difficult to get used to.

Ladakh is a very tough terrain to stay in and is surrounded by army posts and the military. A total contrast to the environment in Ladakh was the happy faces and the non-complaining attitude of the students. Makes you think about how many times you crib in a day for immaterial things. They stay away from their home (mostly remote villages) for years to learn and improve their knowledge. And they do it with a focused mind…. ‘I have come here to improve myself and learn whatever that I can and I am going to do it and do it with happiness’. Their approach towards life and everything it throws at them is awe inspiring.

I went there to teach but I ended up learning a lot more than any school or educational institute could teach me. ‘It is not that hard to live a life of self-sufficiency and contentment’ and nothing in life is that difficult which a smile and a positive attitude can’t cure.

It is true…’Smile and the world does smile with you’

-Shraddha Narayanan, IPM, Biologics

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  1. Loved your honest, down to earth account! Have you returned to the school since your first visit?