Time flies. Sometimes with the blink of an eyelid, everything around us changes. We at MAD always felt and knew that we were growing. That we will grow so fast, and have such a huge family in just a matter of seven years, however, is something we did not foresee in our wildest dreams. Yet here we stand, on the brink of entering our eighth year-23 cities strong; armed with projects, old and new, with thousands of volunteers and children, as ‘One Big MAD’.
What made MAD grow so fast? What was it that motivated everyone to step forward and usher change? What is the very pulse of the organisation and values it upholds?
It was then that it hit us. The heartbeat of the projects, of the movement, of MAD is US. Change will be heralded only when we stand together-as a force of determined youth, a group of people with an unquenchable thirst, as a legion of fighters who never stop believing and as a family, as that One Big MAD we talk about. The ‘Us’ is what makes it happen. It Starts With Us.
Why is it that we say ‘us’? Why not simply say it starts with ‘you’? What is so magical about ‘us’?
If one retraces the currents of history, the one thing people would notice is that the tide of change swept the world and moved nations only when an entire gamut of people came together. Sure, there were great leaders. But no war could have been won without that one soldier who held the garrison for days; Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘dream’ would have remained unfulfilled had the people chosen not to respond to it unanimously; Mandela’s crusade against apartheid or Gandhi’s Satyagraha in the face of imperialism would have remained mere wishful thinking if not for the people moving forward with them, together, towards achieving their goal.
We have entered into an era of the people. Leaders can surely lead the way but change, real change, is possible only when each one of us takes ownership, each one of us leads from the front. No one person can do it alone.
MAD has evolved from an organisation that imparts English language skills to children-at-risk to a platform that empowers youth to take ownership of creating self-sustaining communities for the children to grown up in. For an organisation as young as MAD, the leap was a big one. MAD evolved too fast. Then again, it did happen. We evolved, our projects developed, new ones got added, and with that, our vision too underwent an overhaul. However, there is one thing that never changed. That one thing is the people and their support. For every project that was initiated, it was the hard work of the volunteers on ground that made it thrive. For ever new class or new shelter home we took up, it was the bunch of enthusiastic teachers who pushed in an enormous amount of effort to make those children utter a sentence in perfect English. For every child that we dreamt would attend college, it was the unwavering dedication of a mentor who helped to realize it.
We at MAD have a vision. That vision is to see each and every child of this country lead a healthy and safe life, to provide them equitable resources and opportunities. It seems like a highly unrealistic, unachievable goal. Is it really so? Perhaps, but only if no one comes forward. Then nothing changes, everything goes on as before. But if today everybody comes together, you and I, we, us, then can anyone dare to say that moving the mountains is not possible. That achieving this vision for our children is not. All we require is a belief, a belief that says that for every step we take as a team, a child or two can dream of a better life tonight. We know it in our hearts, and we hope every person reading this does too. Because #ItStartsWithUs.