Kavita painting classrooms in Jaipur, India
Have you seen this movie with Kevin Spacey? The theme was about doing something that really helps people. Something that they cannot do by themselves and something that you do for them that they in turn do for other people.
After crying buckets in the movie, I thought what a simple, yet amazing idea in that if someone does something for you no matter how big or small, you don’t pay it back…you pay it forward.
I’ve been very fortunate in my life in that I have been the recipient of many pay it forwards, and life has given me so much to be grateful for. Having done some hands on voluntary work in India in December 2006, and also reading with children for the charity Voluntary Reading Help locally, I wanted to do something again. I didn’t want to just give a monthly donation to a charity where the money would be swallowed up administration, I wanted to get involved.
India has always held a special place in my heart, a place where my parents are from. It’s cultural diversity, the coexistence of a number of religions, the mixture of traditional and modern and a place of extreme poverty and wealth. I came across the UK based Charity Children Walking Tall, which is dedicated to helping slum and street children in India. What most impressed me about this charity was that it was a small charity, which was making a huge impact on the lives of children at grass root level, giving them a springboard out of poverty and a childhood worthwhile remembering.
I got in touch with the charity, checked their accounts and decided that this was a charity that I would like to get involved with. In February 2009, I announced to my team at Sparkle Dental Boutique that I would be away for three months. After an initial “what will we do without you”, the team rallied around and have been incredibly supportive. All agreed to take their leave by September so that I could make this trip. We also took part in a team sponsored walk over the Bridges of London and raised about £1,900.00.
Sparkle Dental Boutique runs like clockwork with tried and tested systems in place..so am I nervous about leaving the practice? No, not at all. The team are fully trained and I know they will give it their all whilst I am away. It’s just a little crazy that three new people are joining Sparkle the week that I leave!!!
What will I be doing? I will be based in Mapusa, North Goa. Providing an informal education for the children is part of the work, as well as producing a huge range of activities for the children. Outreach work is done in two local slums where I will be involved in providing access to education and health care and nutrition.
Festivals in India are an integral part of people’s lives and whilst in India, celebrating two of the biggest festivals, Diwali and Christmas will be a real treat! I am also looking forward to time out from my daily routine.
My time away is self funded, so sorting out my mortgage payments, bills etc has been a chore. Getting jabs, visa’s, suitcases, anti malaria tablets and arts and crafts for the children is what I’ve been doing in the run up to my departure. I‘ve bought stencils, glitter, beads, buttons and giant jigsaw puzzles to take with me. Blue Peter eat your heart out! I am also taking toothbrushes, toothpastes and tooth related activities so that I can help motivate the children to look after their teeth.
With just a few days to go before I leave…I am feeling very excited but also a little anxious. Last night I dreamt that I had nits in my hair!!!
Having told friends, family and patients that I am going away, I have been surprised by people’s generosity and support. I have also been amazed by how many people pay it forwards, quietly without any fuss, bother or thanks. They just do it! Sometimes the simplest things can make the biggest difference and I’m thankful of this opportunity to pay it forward!
Kavita Verma, Boutique Manager