I recently received a mail from someone conducting a study asking me for my motivation in joining MAD. It’s a difficult question to answer, mainly because my motivation was not idealism, most definitely not. And each time I attend a MAD gathering and see all the bright-eyed volunteers, all charged up about changing the world I feel even more squeamish about my reasons for joining. But that’s enough indulgence in my sense of guilt and time to go back to where it all began.
I had just moved to Kochi from Bangalore and having contacted MAD through Sabarish, I happened to meet Jithin (ex-Prez) at the Palluruthy orphanage. Jithin then proceeded to enlighten me on the fact that “MAD was a youth organisation where older people wouldn’t fit in. We’ve had bad experiences with older volunteers who give us too much gyan and constantly criticise us. So we want only young volunteers.” Charming! It’s the kind of conversation that the Roadies anchors have with the contestants. (Later, I found out that there was an actual age bar to joining. Jeez! Talk about paranoid)
I figured that if everyone at MAD was as bizarre as the President(why else would he be their representative?), this organization could be an endless source of mirth and entertainment in the new town.
So, despite the brush-off, my kids and I would arrive at Palluruthy every Sunday to interact with the kids. And almost the first thing I realised was that the rest of the volunteers were completely reasonable human beings and were unlikely to provide me with any fodder for personal amusement.
Instead, I was increasingly taken up by the idealism of the MAD volunteers who amazed me with the huge amounts of time and energy that they devoted to this cause. Their patience and optimism was awe-inspiring and contagious. And as for the kids- they were vibrant little fellows, full of spunk and opinions. It was difficult not to fall in love with them even while they were shredding your class to bits and beating each other half to death (rather professionally) over little disagreements.
And so it’s been going on for two years now – a lot of hard work and a little progress. Learning much more than teaching. In fact, the reason that I have stayed on is also probably not very honorable – because I get back much more than I give.
So, the confession was not as difficult as I thought it would be. But the problem still remains – what shall I give as my motivation in the survey?