2011 Personal Statements – Building Blocks for a Bright FutureApril 11, 2011
Building Blocks for a Bright Future
I don’t remember much about my early childhood until it was completely changed. All that remain in my mind about those forgotten years are unfocused memories of my mother braiding my overgrown hair, walking to my small village school through dense sugarcane fields, climbing trees, escaping from classes to roam the village aimlessly amid a pack of boys, and continuously scraping my chin after climbing lofty tamarind trees.
I remember saying goodbye to my father every time he left for work. I am the son of a mere laborer. My father is a construction worker. He usually worked in Bangalore, a six-hour journey from our house. At four in the morning, barely woken up from sleep, I would say my goodbyes to him. The parting was indifferent to me because I knew I would be seeing him the next week or the week after that. But one day, when he said goodbye to me, I hadn’t the slightest clue that this was the day when my life would change forever.
My father had been employed in a construction project called Shanti Bhavan. I remember him telling me that he had a lot of work ahead that required him to carry all his construction tools with him. He added that the place where he would be working for the next two years could only be reached by wading through a golden, muddy stretch of a lake. Along with my father, there were many other people from my village who were part of the construction crew. In the employment force with my father were three of my cousins and a few acquaintances from my village. While the women were catering to regular agricultural work of digging, planting or weeding, the men were earning their livelihood as construction workers.
Fourteen years have passed since his employment with Shanti Bhavan and, until today, tangible proof of my father’s hard work stands firmly on this once abandoned land. While mixing cement and building this institution brick upon brick, he was hardly aware that the project that was bringing him his income was the dream I would pursue. It is a school created by one man who had decided to fight poverty with education and create a home for hundreds of poor children in India. Within three years, the construction was completed. In 1997, the beautiful campus, with its uniquely designed buildings, welcomed its first two batches of children who were from communities that hadn’t presented the opportunity to an education. Shanti Bhavan was the home in which these children needn’t fear going hungry, being abandoned or feeling rejected. It was the place in which their dreams were to come true. And I was one among them.
Today, as the time draws nearer for me to graduate from Shanti Bhavan, I find myself wishing for time to decelerate. Looking back over these past fourteen years, I see the beautiful buildings that stand here and think of the work that went into each one by my father. I see the expanse of greenery that bathes over the campus, and I think of how lucky I have been to live in a place that is clean and enlightening. But most of all, I look at this place in which I grew up feeling thankful to people like Dr. George, my teachers, housemothers, and volunteers who have made it possible for me to see the truth about poor children – that each one can reach for success if given the chance. And that is what Shanti Bhavan has done for me.
I look at the tall tower on campus, and a sense of wonder thaws into me with realism. And I think to myself, “If I hadn’t come to Shanti Bhavan, I would not be standing here gaping at the height of the tower, but instead would have been on such towers, fixing cement onto walls.”
In school, besides academics, I enjoy reading books, cycling, working on the school newsletter, playing football, tutoring the younger students in computers and doing anything that will help broaden my perspective of the world and its possibilities. As for my future, I plan to study corporate law, a field that has for some time drawn my attention. Law is not the only field that has interested me; I enjoy learning accounts and economics from my volunteer teachers who themselves are chartered accountants and investment bankers. I learn equally as much from helping my classmates understand challenging concepts in these subjects.
The unseen wall of education that has been erected around me is strong. The selection of the site was an excellent choice for learning and the concrete poured into my foundation is compacted with love, knowledge and kindness. Now, I am the hope for a family that has always depended on the unstable promise of occasional employment. I am constructing the dream of my family with the concrete blocks of a quality education that Shanti Bhavan has given me.
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Meet the rest of the Shanti Bhavan Class of 2011.