It was an unexpected call from my friends, Abhilash and Naji, inviting me to join their reflection session of travel school program named Khoj. I enthusiastically opted to accept the invitation extended by my friends, mainly because it presented an opportunity to reunite with my co-Fellow, Akila. The prospect of attending the event and coincidentally being in the same place where she was based – Sristi Village Foundation sparked an added layer of excitement and anticipation for me.
From Akila to Akila ‘Akka’
Arriving around 11 and meeting a co-Fellow felt like stumbling upon happiness. Akila arrived shortly after my call, warmly guiding me through the workings of the organization. Witnessing her adaptation to an entirely different culture was awe-inspiring. Having grown up in the US, transitioning to village life in Tamil Nadu showcased her remarkable resilience.
At Sristi, the focus is to empower young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities to lead independent lives through farming and vocational training. Every young adult there affectionately referred to her as Akila ‘akka’, eager for her company during lunchtime. Curious about her experiences, I inquired if she encountered difficulties.
Her smile spoke volumes. Initially challenging, the days stretched from morning till night, offering scarce personal time. Adjusting to shared spaces with five other co-staff, food very different from what she was used to, and life on a farm… she navigated all these challenges seamlessly.
Day in the Life at SRISTI: A Glimpse into Daily Activities
Akila’s daily routine at Sristi embodies a harmonious blend of purposeful engagement and communal spirit. Starting with morning yoga for inner serenity, her days unfold with diverse tasks, from caring for animals and organic farms to contributing to the education of Sristi’s children. The communal lunch fosters connections across projects, and as school concludes, the boys share their experiences in a village-wide gathering, emphasizing unity through exercises and moral teachings. The day culminates in heartfelt expressions of gratitude, highlighting the profound impact of small gestures within the Sristi community.
Lessons from Akila ‘Akka’: Threads of Beauty in the World
Akila’s dedication to improving the lives of these young adults, being their Akila akka, was truly remarkable. Her resilience in overcoming hurdles and her commitment to their well-being left an indelible impression. People like Akila are the threads weaving beauty into our world.
In this brief encounter, I witnessed the transformative power of embracing change and the immense impact of individuals devoted to making a difference. Akila’s story serves as a beacon of inspiration, reminding us of the beauty in selfless dedication and adaptation.
Until our paths cross again, I carry with me the lessons learned from a chance encounter that reaffirmed the beauty of human resilience and compassion.