The (jhuggi) house caught fire 3 days back. Rebuilt without any fuss. Such are hardships. Such is resolve.

Sharing an experience of a lifetime. An attempt to explain ourselves the meaning of the term – “Resilience”. I learnt this over last one week in best possible way. 

A fire broke. People were houseless. 500 of them. Including 300 children.

First day there was complete confusion. Chaos. Hopelessness. Atleast I felt so – may be I had to experience “resilience”, in best possible form. And, then…

The children were smiling throughout. High on energy. They were having fun amidst disappointment all around. Not that they don’t understand the trouble. I saw them chipping in whenever it was about accumulating resources for the family. They forgot playing then. Even 6 years old!

Their parents. The “daily wage laborers” – as WE know them. A word got spread that they had stopped going to work because “free ka maal mil haha hei”. A lot of people and organizations came forward to donate resources – food, water, clothes and even Kulfis. But, let me share the reality. We decided to go house-to-house to distribute clothes received from this most beautiful organization called GOONJ. You know what we found? Atleast 50% of the people were away – on “dihaadi”. They go early in the morning and come back only late night. Nobody saw them. These “nobodies” were the ones who wanted to rebuild their houses through what they do the best – “being resilient”. I saw them. They were rebuilding their homes quietly. One has to look beyond what is obvious to see them.

My team. Most amazing people in my life. They camped on the site from 8 in the morning till 10 in the night. Left only after dinner. These young boys and girls, including their CEO were highly inexperienced to handle a “disaster”. Made many mistakes! Learned and apply. Learned and apply. From the field. Under extreme heat, my team never complained. Whenever I was feeling nervous/ indecisive, they injected me with the power of resilience. They stayed. With a cheerful smile. And, brilliance.
Ah! the CITU leader – “Pradhan ji”. I never want to get into political realms, but this post is about something which I won’t be able to do justice with, if I don’t talk about this 50 year old “Baba ji” – which my team fondly named! He stood the ground. He accommodated everybody – sometimes with smile and sometimes with disappointment! But, he did.

How should I end this post? With a learning may be – Whenever you get the opportunity/ responsibility to address an emergency situation in Jhuggi homes/ cluster, go with an assumption. These self-made people are NOT dependent on you. Go hold their hand for a while. Be a friend. Just get them out of the shock. Understand them. Their needs. Never ever dare to patronize them. If you do, you are disillusioned, my friend!

Prerit Rana

CEO Agrasar