Thanksgiving is an American tradition but a great occasion for all to reflect on who deserve gratitude for their success and who they are. It is particularly relevant for today’s youth to reflect on the phrase, “I am thankful for…”
In a pilot program, we asked the above question to primary school NRI children in grades 3-5. All of them were very appropriately grateful to their parents. I ask of the youth that they may use this forum to succinctly respond to the question.
It is safe to assume that the youth reading this blog is well educated and fortunate to be from a family who could afford education. The fact, however, is that not everyone is as fortunate to get basic education in government primary schools in India. I emphasize primary education because that is where basic reading, writing and learning begins.
That is where we must change parents’ mindset about valuing sons and daughters equally and bridging the gender inequalities. We must ensure that every childhood is saved and celebrated rather than them being asked to run errands or care for siblings in lieu of going to school.
The millions are born in impoverished families not by choice, so why should they be the victims of poverty for the rest of their lives? The children, who may not get good education have little or no prospects for leading a productive, happy and/or healthy life.
Despite the claims that nearly all children now attend primary school globally, the reality on the ground is different and the progress is uneven across nations. Reportedly, millions of children, particularly girls, are being left behind even in the 21st century:
Being educated yourself and enabling the less-fortunate to get educated will give the youth’s loudest ‘awaz’ in making the world a better place. The youth should embrace education for all and share resources, time, and talent to ensure that the child next door goes to school every day. The youth must recognize that the gap between the haves and have nots is widening. They should aspire to join the millionaire club; however, they must embrace the idea of helping one-child, one-school, and/or one-village at a time starting today not tomorrow.
A relatively low-cost high-reward project close to my heart is called “Pencil to Power”. It simply means that knowing how to write is very empowering. During my social work in rural government primary schools, I noticed that children were not writing much because many did not have necessities like notebooks and pencils. Subsequently, we distributed notebooks, pencils and erasers in about 25 rural schools, only a tiny fraction of about 650,000 schools nationwide. However, every tiny bit by thousands of youth can help. In my view, writing is not only essential to learning but a critical skill for expression for those who don’t have one otherwise.
In the end, I urge the youth to be grateful for what they have and to all those who contributed to their success. Secondly, they must share their wit, wealth and wisdom with the less-fortunate to enable learning and success in their life. There is no better gift than the gift of education and the youth should be thankful to God that they were blessed with the capacity to give.