TRUTH OR DARE
During the one month field work experience in Gold Organisation for Life and Development, Guwahati, I met and interacted with three categories of people – or rather I would like to use the term say people who are by socially handicapped. The first category of people I met and interacted with was with the IDUs (Injecting Drug Users); secondly with the destitute families and children, and my attention was shifted to one young girl who had been struggling to do well in her board examination. And lastly, a part of the experience was shared with the trafficked children belonging to Northeast states. Though I experienced differently with the three groups, a kind of force was pulling me to understand them in only one important aspect.
I was assigned to carry out a study on the stigma and the problem of the IDUs. For that purpose I interviewed some of the IDUs personally. It was not as difficult as it appeared. But when I reached the point to interview some of their families, it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Infact I was left with the feeling of impossibility as none of the IDUs was willing enough, not on the fact of me wanting to visit their families but on the matter of what discussion I might have with them. They were afraid to hurt their family more by discussing about their problem. They have never dared to bring their issue openly for discussion. Another experience which made me think alongthe same track was when a young girl from a shelter home tried to commit suicide because of bad result in her board examination. Fortunately, the girl’s life was saved. However, the consequence has to be paid not only by her but also her mother and her two younger sisters. Soon enough they were asked to leave the shelter home even before the girl was discharged from the hospital. It made me think how blamed and guilty the girl must have felt. My greater surprise was not only on the action taken up by the authority but by the reaction of even the other children who treated the issue as a bad omen. That is what we can call a responsible young generation, and we are responsible for it. In my third experience I had spent time interacting with not only the trafficked children but also with school children from Guwahati. I have observed the gaps between them. It made me reflect back on one thing that I have quoted during one of the workshops on trafficking, ‘requirement of different school for the trafficked children’. Do we really require a different school for the trafficked children while the other children are enjoying the freedom to grow and develop in a natural environment and in a natural way, or is it a segregation and discrimination of the children at risk. It is necessary to question why the trafficked children can’t attend same schools with other children, why they can’t enjoy going out for picnic and shopping like the others, why they can’t go out and play with friends. By depriving them of such freedom do we call ourselves responsible in providing a natural and normal life for them.
What I have realised is that when we look at the issues which has a problem we often see it as a problem to the society and not as a problem to the person who need help and support. And in order to make things easier we try to erase that person and not the parasites. To my point, the issue of IDUs or HIV person is dealt like the sacred script written in a book which has a lock and if we try to open it the curse will fall upon us. I realised that we have often tried to keep a certain defective chapter of our life closed in the closets. However, the more we burry it inside the more difficult it becomes to bring it to normal. Whenever we feel sad or get hurt we are often advised that sharing our sorrow with others helps to heal the pain and things begins to return to normal day by day. It feels better than before. Also in this case, the problem of the IDUs needs to be treated like normal talks, and to be able to free them from the psychological and emotional pain if not the physical problems. I have noticed the reaction of the people towards them as if a ghost is at hunt and people are scared. From the three experiences I have never felt so strongly towards realising to what extent we are treating them like untouchables. Through our actions, indirectly or directly limiting them of their freedom and forcing them to lower self esteem. They lose all courage to lead a normal life. They fall back not because of what they feel but what they are made to feel. They are not the only ones who becomes socially handicapped but we are also a handicapped because we are the greater part of the society guilty of our ignorance and negligence.
I was struggling within myself with the dilemma thinking what I have to do. Finally I allow myself to fall back sadly, but only with the thoughts that I had to respect the wishes of the IDUs on confidential basis. Also, to avoid hurting the sentiments of the authorities I could not allow myself to bring any of this matter open for discussion. I have to keep reminding myself that I am a student under training. Through the experience I have realised the truth that lies around us but I wasn’t able to dare myself in fighting for the truth. However, it has not limited my learning and understanding to where I should place myself as a future social worker. In my conclusion, I will strongly affirm that we cannot keep option of either for the truth or to dare. But, we need to be able to face both the truth as well as dare to take the challenge we face. To all the aspiring social workers and to the responsible citizens…I DARE YOU. (Sunny)