It was the summer of 2020. Whatever I have achieved in the years so far had happened just a day before. Getting recognition in an online debate competition at the zonal level made me thrilled, and I felt there was no looking back. But indeed, it’s a beautiful journey of 8 long years, and I cherished each day of my journey.
I was in grade 3 when my tuition teachers were discussing the activities of Pratyan Centre during my class. I was fascinated by way of learning and grooming children at Prayatna. I was too young to make decisions, but something within me popped up and said I wanted to be a part of Prayatna.
Prayatna is an NGO that works for the overall development of children by supporting them academically, and also it assists the child in acquiring life skills.
That evening, I could not have a wink of sleep. I shared my thoughts with my elder brother and parents the next day. They, too, were pleased to see that I had started taking decisions to improve my performance at school, and I was allowed to join Pratyan along with my elder brother. People often say that students despise discipline, moral values, and participation in social causes in this twenty-first century. But I firmly believe it all matters how they are being served to them. If good things are served on a good platter, the children will enjoy them heartily.
Prayatna inculcated those values in children that parents and society strive hard to give to their kids but too generously. My memories of my first day at Pratyan are still fresh. I hesitated and could barely call out my name. “Nidhi Jha”, I said to the person I was introduced to. He was Praneet Sir. His calm and serene personality made me realize that teachers could be so amiable and understanding. My conceptions about teachers being harsh and rude faded away when I talked to him.
I started taking my lessons at Pratyan and soon got familiar with their work and activities. Bal Sabha is a platform where all the students are asked to express their hidden talents. I participated in various cultural activities like dance, drama, and special day celebrations, apart from teaching academic lessons. I love to be a part of debates and declamations. Soon I became one of the good debaters at Prayatna.
Years passed by, and I showed an excellent academic response. My parents felt glad to see me growing each day. I, too, felt that I am grooming each passing day. My skills at organizing the events and my understanding of handling the situations were hands-on experiences. The Pratyan have been taught to be friends with ourselves and our society. I am amazed to see my transformation after being associated with Prayatna. As Child Welfare Coordinator, I have been trained to look after the well-being of students in Pratyan, and now I am in a position to counsel the girl students. My passion for doing something for society has made me closer to the organization and motivated me to lead my role from the front.
Prayatna has a Mitr Mandal, which helps develop leadership qualities in students. It consists of Sahatye Mitr, Kala Mitr, Sanskriti Mitr, Khel Mitr etc. Each group is entitled to take charge of specific activities in the department. They felt like ruling a world of friends with our conviction and comprehension. I was fortunate enough to be Uppradhan Mitr to coordinate all the activities of Mitr Mandal. It feels like I am being appraised for my excellent work.
Once a young girl came up to me and shared her joy by saying, ” Nidhi Didi is a source of inspiration for me. I want to be like her.” I could not help getting my eyes blurred with tears of joy when I saw my efforts bearing their fruits. It was the moment when I realized that the joy of giving is the best in the world. This year is quite harsh for the world, but I feel fortunate to be a part of such a noble organization that helped me deal with tough times. I have my dreams and a desire to fulfil those dreams with my diligent efforts. I want to be an IAS officer to serve my country and root out corruption from society. Keeping my ambitions in mind, I choose my subjects in grade 11. My new school, Navodaya Vidhayala, has treated me well to pursue my aspirations. But life is not always what the NGOs plan, so I have always been taught to keep a backup plan if something goes wrong. I am not the person who will feel broken by unfulfilled dreams. If not an IAS, I know I will serve my nation by opening more Pratyan Centres in Pan India. The change in the life of this small-town girl can be a change in the lives of millions. That’s the potential of honest work and noble cause.