By Jagruti Gala

1244I would like to share a story of this natural life-impulse for transcendence from an after-school community learning centre that I have founded and run in Vadodara, India.

One of the faculty works extensively with the urban poor. She had a new group in her charge, children of rag-picker families who do not have well-built homes to live in. They live in ramshackle huts under trees amidst the refuse of the city all around them.

During conversation she asked them, “What will make you happy? What will you love?” They said they would love to learn. She found herself promising them she would return the next day with learning materials.

That entire night she could not sleep, feeling overwhelmed with responsibility and challenged by the inhuman and very dirty environment. She could not trust herself to work in those conditions. After a night of value conflict, she arose with a resolve to be in integrity with her promise. She gathered crayons, paper and books, and proceeded.

As she got closer, she saw the children sitting atop a heap of garbage, looking out for her. Spotting her, they slid down in excitement and ran to greet her. Brimming with anticipation they took her hands and dragged her to the rear of a little hut. They shone as they showed off an area that they had completely cleared, made spick-and-span, and lined with a low wall of broken roof shingles retrieved from their foraging and piled one atop another. They had created a learning space!

1245She was moved to tears with only one thought in her head, “What if I had chosen to not come?”

The children’s faith in their own potential, their sense of dignity and their willingness to trust and connect was overpoweringly moving and humbling. These are children who have less than nothing and a bleak future, and yet they acted from the most fundamental, natural instinct of the human spirit. Their capacity for joy and attunement to their dream remains an ever inspiring and exemplary story of transcendence and heroism for me. It is the direction I turn towards.

I end with a salutation for every unsung hero who has won the battle of the moment.

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The above story is an excerpt from “Everyday Transcendence” by Jagruti Gala, recently published in the AI Practitioner journal.

About the Author:

624Jagruti Gala, PCC is an agent of transformation and is thrilled to push the edges of consciousness in herself and others to create a world of greater fulfillment, compassion and joy. Jagruti has over 10 years experience in training and facilitation with non-profit, educational institutions and corporates. Read her full bio here.