Spreading Love through Volunteerism – Recognizing the Humanity in Each One of Us
Before we embark upon deep reflection of these words, let us make some things clear. First of all, how sane can we claim ourselves to be? 100%, no doubt. A month ago my very self-assured answer would have been, ‘I can guarantee and vouch for my complete sanity.’ This solid conviction of one’s own rationality stems from a blinding fear of the otherwise.
It had been claimed that the average person uses no more than 10 percent of their brain capacity, but in 2015, leading neuroscientists dismissed it as nothing more than an urban myth. Neuropsychology professor Barbara Sahakian says, ‘It’s impossible to work out how much of our brain we are using quantitatively. However, it is definitely much more than 10 per cent.’ This 10% (or more – according to majority) of the brain rules our actions, which in turn, give us a semblance of ‘normality’ in life – waking up in the morning, going to bed at night, talking, laughing, crying upon occasion, and the ability to mingle in society.
But what about those whose brains work in a different from usual fashion? Those whose reality may be different from ours – why are they shunned from our society with labels of ‘handicapped’, ‘invalid’ and ‘special’, flung away after them. I earlier spoke of my fixed ideas of a month ago. As it happened, a brief period of community service was all it took to open me up to new perspectives.
Saima was an eleven year old girl suffering from mental retardation. Standing on the threshold of youth, the horizon appears bleak and grim for her. When I first visited the orphanage where she resides, I found her sitting silently in a corner, appearing almost inanimate. However as I started talking to her, she abruptly interrupted me and exclaimed, ‘Baji! Let me sing to you… I possess a remarkable voice!’.
To me, like any other outsider, it appeared she was uttering gibberish; just another proof of her sad state of mind. Yet I was dramatically proven wrong the next moment as she started singing catches from old Bollywood songs. She indeed possessed a fine voice, and as I commended her I saw her face light up with joy, and I knew I had made her day.
Saima is just one among thousands of ‘special’ children who, on the surface appear to be ‘lesser’ individuals than others, in their mental or physical faculties. However, when we probe deeper we quickly come to realize with some surprise that they possess gifts that surpass our own. For instance, I encountered a six year old girl, both deaf and dumb. She had never received any schooling before. Nevertheless, when I began to teach her, within two weeks she had not only mastered numbers but also learnt how to solve addition subtraction sums correctly – quite an achievement, at her age and in her circumstances.
These children have unharnessed mental potential which is locked away behind the iron doors of fate, that the world closes on them. Thus, it is our moral obligation being fortunate as we are, to give our time to those who need it, to ameliorate their conditions or at the very least, to brighten up their world a little.
As students, we are urged to make our studies our top priority, plus we have responsibilities towards those dearest to us. Nevertheless, during vacations plenty of free time is on our hands, and it is up to us how to use that time. To settle for idle gossip, to play video games 24/7, or to reach out a helping hand – the choice is yours. As the saying goes, ‘one drop and another make the ocean’: just a couple of hours every month could make a life better.
Visiting such Special Children’s centers as I did has the most humanizing impact upon a person. Call it depressing, or call it uplifting. A smile, a word of heartfelt praise not only enlightens one person’s life but the positivity radiates to all those around them, bringing all humanity together in a spirit of universal love and good will.
“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates
About the Author: Ayesha Sahar Mirza is a young student with a keen interest in Medicine, Political Philosophy and the Political Sciences. She is interested in researching neurology writing on neurological issues. Ayesha can be reached at [email protected]
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