Barriers Only Exist if We Let Them
by Saniya More
Aboli Foundation is an organization that my younger sister and I founded last year. We are still in the process of getting it registered. Our non-profit primarily aims to improve the education and well-being of students in government-funded schools in the Maharashtra state. In December and January, 2016, we spent 2 weeks teaching English, yoga, and playing board games with the school children as part of our first project.
Barriers only exist if we let them. This is the most important value I learned during a two-week volunteering experience at Temki Paada, a government-funded village school in Maharashtra, India.
Initially, I was worried about the language barrier between me and the children. I was raised in Bangkok, away from my native country throughout my entire life. I was also concerned I wouldn’t be able to connect with the children because I was from different social and economic circumstances.
I couldn’t have been more mistaken. The barriers I anticipated were there only because I mentally created them. After two days at the school, the children were already calling me Tai (older sister in Marathi) and shyly high-fiving me as I left. They would listen to me tell them stories about Amreeka (America). They would crowd around me as I showed them the photographs I had taken of them on my camera.
It was amazing to become a part of these children’s lives. With my camera, I captured moments that would have been too special to describe with words. I glanced into the lives of people whom I may not have encountered otherwise.
At the school, I connected with the children on a level past mere physicality — our minds were in sync. Reporting on lives like theirs is part of what I want to ultimately do as a journalist.