Empowerment to ownership! I wrote the title of this blog some days back and then somehow writer’s block or was it the God of lesser beings at play? I do not know. When I did write the title I was feeling a little saddened as my dream of going from empowerment to ownership seemed to be a tad turning sour. The blog was supposed to be logical extension of my cri de coeur written a few days back.
I had ended that blog with the words I had said my bit. As usual the teacher has not uttered a word. I asked him to think about matters and get back to me. I know he will ultimately accept to move. The other option is still too scary. But a see has been sown and I hope it will bear fruits sooner than later. I had perhaps also sent a silent prayer to the God of lesser beings urging him to show the young teacher the way as all said and done I was quite fond of him. That was also the time when I must have decided to write a blog about ownership, at least to make my views and thoughts clear. I must confess that when I wrote the title E to O, it sounded grand and somehow outlined the initial mission of pwhy. However over the years as the project grew somewhat organically the O got lost en route. Any feeble attempt to bring back the concept of ownership was met with such resistance and furore that one quietly hid it under the carpet. Maybe it is was too early, too scary, too ambitious.
However all this changed and the clouds lifted when the very teacher who had first refused a posting for some flimsy and inane reason and then retreated into a state finally came to see me yesterday. I must admit that as once bitten and twice shy I feared the worst. Was it to be another trip to the dreaded courts? He sat silently as he always does and needed as usual to be prodded to talk. I asked him gently what he has decided. To go to my village in Bihar and start a branch of pwhy he said in a barely audible voice. I thought I was hearing things and asked him to repeat what he said. He did and I wanted to whoop with joy but noblesse oblige! He slowly explained how he wanted to go to his village for a few days and explore the possibilities of starting something there. Yes, yes, yes was my excited answer. This was my dream come true: to empower people and show them that their real future was in their place of origin. Th real success story was to teach people skills they could then take back. This was more than I has asked for. The excitement was palpable but it was also time to quickly regain composure and be Anou ma’am the wise one. And above all it was imperative to guide the young man and show him the way.
I told him that it was a wonderful idea but that he had to take it one step at a time. The pwhy model would not just be replicated in a Bihar village. It had to be modified to local needs. I suggested he went to his village for a few days to assess the situation and then came back with a short term plan that we would support. Then he would have the necessary time to work on the field and slowly craft the long term needs and make a proper plan. I reminded that we too started with spoken English classes for just 30 kids!
This was truly a ah ha moment for pwhy, the vindication of the seemingly absurd dreams one had held on to: to be able to empower people and have them go back to their villages and create better options there. I know the road is long and tortuous but I know we will overcome all and I know understand why the blog took so long to write.