Wednesday 2 July 2014

Music has no language

We have always heard ‘music has no language’ and Jigyasa Labroo managed to experience this magic of music. Jigyasa is Gold Award participant from Ansal Institute of Technology, Gurgaon, and her Residential Project took her to a special school in the beautiful hills of Himachal Pradesh, here is her story:

Harmony Through Education’s mission is to maximize the resources available for residents of underprivileged communities in developing countries, particularly focusing on special needs children and their families. It aims to provide educational opportunities for children who are mentally and/or physically challenged children in rural India. Harmony Through Education implements this mission by funding the creation of projects to establish and operate schools in rural communities run by citizens who are native to the particular country. At present, Harmony Through Education, India Trust runs a school for mentally and physically challenged children in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. 

The school provides year round education for children ranging from ages 6-20 years, charging them a nominal fee between $0 to $20, depending on their financial background. It runs in a seven room building with a kitchen, three class rooms, a store and a playground. The building of the school is on the main road in lower Dharamsala. The reason I chose to work for this organization was because I felt a pressing need to increase my sensitivity for specially abled people, especially children. Also, because I am naturally good with children compared to adults.

At Harmony, as a part of my IAYP (International Award for Young People) Residential Project, I worked as a music instructor and a web developer for the trust for a week's time. The biggest challenge was to teach music to children who could not speak much, hear well or even make eye contact.  This however, made me realize that music was above such considerations and the main purpose of my project should not be to expect them to learn what I was teaching them, but to feel a connection to music.  We did the Hindustani Sargam (Sa re ga ma pa) and some Alankars and the children performed better than I had ever imagined. Out of thirty three, five to six children completely memorized the Sargam and some Alankars and two were even able to sing in perfect harmony. The rest involved themselves by enjoying the music sessions and in a week's time, their teachers reported that their temperaments had become calmer than ever before.

As a computer science student and developer, I created a website and Facebook page for the trust to publicize its activities to garner more donations. 

This one week has probably been the most challenging yet the most gratifying one in my whole life. Not only did I gain new perspectives but also a higher level of sensitivity to people around us. The children gave back to me much more than I could possibly give them. Their ability to be happy and spread joy among people around them, even after being in the circumstances they're in, only motivated me further.  I learnt the virtue of patience and how effective it can be, especially while dealing with special children. They taught me to rise above frustrations, every day they set a new example for me to follow. What greater frustration can there be than that of not being able to communicate. I left the school as a better person, with memories for life and lessons to live that life well.

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