How do you really know you’re making an impact?
When you’re working in the social sector, how do you really know you’re making an impact? Yes, you have statistics, you’ve got your annual reports with the fancy graphs but are they true representations?!
As a recently graduated master’s student, I recall scrolling through LinkedIn for potential job opportunities. A listing from TARA redirected me to their website, 2 minutes of scrolling through and I was hooked. Having been aware of the situation in the country with regard to homes and NGOs dealing with children, I was clear that I can’t make assumptions or have an opinion on the organisation based on the fact that they have a fantastic website.
TARA boys- home to 20 boys between the ages of 6-18, I remember my first day like it was yesterday. The boys were happy, not the put-on kind but genuinely happy and excited to meet a new staff member, there was a certain warmth to it that eased the anxiety I had been feeling. Over the course of the next few months, I dived deep into my work as a child welfare officer and the world of resilience building. The number of measures initiated and taken by the organisation to ensure the well-being of these children boggled my mind. The steps and carefully planned sessions all curated for the simple task of providing these children with a safe space gave me hope and a sense of purpose.
The children at TARA come from backgrounds you and I cannot even begin to fathom, most of them are victims of abuse, destitution, sheer neglect while a host of them have been rescued off the streets. TARA has a very clear goal as far as these children are concerned, it isn’t just about providing them with the amenities they lacked but more importantly, healing and transforming them. Essentially, it’s all about resilience building. While the entire process may seem lucid on paper, it isn’t as easy to implement. In fact, it is an extremely slow process which requires a multitude of patience where these children are hand-held and facilitated in ways that may not show any concrete results or progress right away.
As a child comes into TARA, there’s a host of activities that take place. At the onset, the child goes through an in-depth physical analysis facilitated by the medical officer and immediate precautions are taken as per the requirements. This is followed up by a consultation with a mental health care practitioner. An action plan is curated thereafter with clear goals as far as the child is concerned. While the mental and physical requirements of the child are being taken care of by the experts, TARA’s in house staff looks into the other aspects- confidence building, empowerment, providing a safe environment and the most crucial- restoring their dignity.
The children have regular sessions, both individual and group that revolve around the above mentioned aspects, what stood out for me is the values that are taught and they’re not just taught these values but also made to understand the practicalities of it. For a 6 year old child, the concept of humility may be far fetched but with time, they begin to truly understand it for what it is and gradually start implementing it in their daily lives. One of the key elements in this process is the staff who are enabling the children. Thus, the organisation ensures that the staff have regular training sessions where they are educated on the various intricacies involved whilst dealing with the children. There are a range of discussions that revolve around sex education to understanding diversity, various taboos that exist in our society and so on. This is extremely crucial as it's the staff who’re enabling the kids and in order for them to do an unbiased job they need to be empowered themselves.
What really impressed me right from the get go is the way in which the organisation warrants the children to be independent and have a mind of their own. The children are taught to value themselves and understand that they have a voice. A voice that allows them to exercise their rights and well being. They are given the platform to make their own decisions but it is also very clearly communicated that one must understand that every action has a consequence and it is up to them to be able to comprehend what is right and what is wrong. This is very clearly reflected in the children, a five minute conversation with any one of them showcases the values, learnings and habits that have been instilled in them. They are taught to cherish the opportunity that has been provided to them and to learn how to make the most of it. Education is paramount, yes but it is also equally important to be a good human being and that for me is the beauty of TARA and what the organisation stands for.
TARA has changed my life for the better, it wasn't just the children I was enabling but myself too and I don’t think I could ever put into words how thankful and privileged I am to be a part of it.
By Isha G.
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