"Sharing a smile"- straight from the heart by Manvi Jalan

''Manvi talks about the time she spend with the children at the orphanage.Here's her message,straight from her heart''

IAYP - International Awards For Young People and was formerly known as DEAS-Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Participants of this program are youth people between 14-25 years of age. These participants are required to take up a Skill, a Physical activity a social service and participate in Adventurous Journeys for a certain amount of time depending on the level of the Award that one is aiming to receive.

IAYP believes that it is important for the next generation to give back to society and most of the time it does help change a person in some small way.

Personally ,I believe that it is important if possible to help people and spread happiness…try and bring hope to someone’s life. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to do something for this
world…give back …play my part in bringing about an ocean of change. For IAYP I decided to go to an orphanage called SICW(Society for Indian Childrens Welfare) for social service.

On our first day as I walked in, not knowing what to expect,I saw little children looking at me with awe. When they were told that I had come to play with them,most of them ignored us or shied away and continued to play by themselves. After the initial awkward fifteen minutes or so,I managed to make some friends,and became particularly close to some of the children.

I met a girl there.Her name is Neha.She has a little sister called  Lakhi. Neha and Lakhi were probably the first children who ever opened up to me. After going to SICW,I realized that when it comes to children,you really have to open your heart and keep smiling.It is different with adults. I found that making friends with children is much easier.

Like I was saying Neha was older,she understood everything that was going on and protected her little sister from the world.She is a smart girl,Neha.Carefree and beautiful.

A few months past by happily with the children.but then I couldn’t go for a few weeks due to exams.Neha was hurt.On meeting her I felt as if I had betrayed her. After I explained the situation to her and assured her that I cared much for her, she finally forgave me. For the first time in my entire life,I realised that someone looked upto me.I was the older sister,for the first time I understood exactly what the words ‘you’ll always be a baby to me’ and ‘don’t ever grow up’ mean.

Months later I heard that Neha and Lakhi were being adopted and were leaving next week.I was heartbroken. I wanted to give them something that they could cherish lifelong.So I wrote them a little
letter.A note that carried a little piece of who I was in it and gave them means to contact us when they
were older if they wished to do so. In just a few weeks we had grown so close.I took my camera to the orphanage to capture the last few moments that we could be together.Just before Neha and Lakhi left,there was a great sense of sadness.Neha,always cheerful, eagerly took the camera from my hand and started taking snaps,she created for me some beautiful memories that I will cherish forever.

I met some of the parents of the children and when I finally went home after spending at least 4 hours at the orphanage… and waited for the growing sadness in my heart to manifest into tears,but they didn’t.

The time that I spend in the orphanage made me humble.It made me appreciate everything I have.I taught me to admire the strength and beauty of these children,of these little souls who never seem to stop smiling. If I have meant anything to these children,if I have given any hope to them and given them any happiness and love,if I have changed their lives in some small way I shall consider myself blessed.But they will never know just how much they have changed mine. Now every time I think I’m going to lose hope, and the strength to go on in life,I will think of these souls.They have taught me just how precious and beautiful life is and how I’m stronger than I think I am. They give me hope and taught me how to believe in the love in the world…They made me want to inspire more people and to follow my heart.

This programme provided me with the opportunity to gain experiences of a lifetime and has truly brought a change in me as a person.Now I know there is nothing that will stop me from fulfilling my longing to be a part of the ocean of change that is yet to come.

- Manvi Jalan, Award Participant 

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