In February 2017, I volunteered at Jan Madhyam, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the lives of economically challenged children and those with special needs. At Jan Madhyam, therapies, music, dance, yoga and life skills training are carried out by teachers and volunteers in order to prepare such children to go out into the real world. While I was at the school, I noticed that although there seemed to be so many obstacles that could hinder the proper functioning of the school, such as the lack of adequate resources, Jan Madhyam has succeeded in optimizing the resources it has and creating an inclusive environment for less fortunate children. A school that had precisely one classroom, a garden, and a small room for therapies, was able to help a four year old girl learn how to walk, was able to help a teenage boy who couldn’t hear or speak get a job, and was successful at giving the families of these children hope for the future.
During my visit to Jan Madhyam, I was given the opportunity to plan and execute activities with the students. I led a number of yoga sessions, assisted in music classes, shadowed and helped with physical therapy, and worked to create engaging and worthwhile activities to carry out in the classroom. I was taken by surprise when I saw how respectful and kind each child was— the students really respected their classroom, teachers, and peers. For example, children who were not physically disabled would help those who were by holding their hands to climb the stairs to our classroom; others would share their lunch with those who weren’t able to bring one from home. Everything was neat and organized, fruitful activities were planned in advance, and never once did I feel as though the school was not being used to its fullest potential.