Seeds are, for the most part, misunderstood. We eat them, grind them up into fine powder, play with them and generally treat them with a fair amount of disrespect. We often fail to recognise the potential that lies in those tiny parcels of growth – that given the right amount of nutrients, water and TLC, they can grow into the hugest of trees. It’s their size that often makes us forget about what they hold within them. One remembers the bit from the bible when Jesus tells us about the mustard seed that’s tiny but grows into the largest of shrubs.
The projects that we’re running over here are the seeds that we hope will grow into huge self-sustainable programmes that will continue to grow beyond what we currently see and envisage. That’s what we have to do as overseas volunteers after all – I’m only here for a fairly short time and a large part of the work I do is to ensure that there’s continuity in the programmes that are started here. I think the main reason why I’m thinking in this way right now is the fact that over two-thirds of my time here is up and I’m on the home stretch of my involvement with the community here in India and I need to think about how to ensure that all that’s been built up over the past months will continue.
I’d like to see my work here as somewhat similar to that of a farmer who sows a seed and sits by the side of the field to water and groom it. This farmer cannot stay by the field all the time and needs to allow other farmers to tend to the field and that’s like me having to leave and ensure that others are around to tend to the plant that we’ve grown. As it stands, I know the plant that is our project is in good hands and am looking forward to hearing about how it’s growing.
Seeing the project as a seed is pretty apt because there’s not only a tremendous opportunity for growth but also the fact that it’s still a pretty small project. It took me a while to reconcile the fact that I came all the way here to work with a fairly small section of the local community. I first took some consolation from a book I read about us helping in whatever small ways that we can and to light even one candle in the darkness helps to shed light on things. I later realised that the work that is done here with our local partner makes sense because with them at our side, the potential for growth is even greater. One person’s work can make a difference but that work gets magnified with a partner who can pour in resources and aid in continuity.
The original project that I was sent here to do – to provide an enhanced educational programme for high school students to improve their employability has expanded through the help of our local partner, Indus International School, into a full-fledged service-learning programme that is aimed at engaging a wider section of the local community and raising the general standard of education in the area in the process. Ambitious as the expansion seems, I do feel that we’ve got a good chance at succeeding and getting the whole neighbourhood buzzing about this.
And so the seed grows. And we are glad.