Managing Committee 2016 - 17
Giving back to school...
Memories of school always evoke sweet nostalgia for me - as it does with all our Josephites. Today I had come to school along with Dr Rajalaxmi and the team from Srishtilife. I had the good fortune of spending time with my juniors and it was nice to see hundreds of boys smartly attired in uniform just like the good old days –the difference though was I was not one of the boys in uniform – how I miss those cherished days.
We are indeed blessed with the benefits and convenience that modern civilization has to offer . Unfortunately there is also the flip side; one of the biggest banes we are seeing today is increase in the incidents of child sex abuse. This is a cause for concern and something we all have to collectively address.
A subject like child sex abuse in a conservative society like India requires one to be extremely sensitive and yet drive home the point – something that Dr Rajalaxmi can do with great ease. Dr Rajalaxmi (Raji as she prefers being called to break down the formal barriers when communicating with her) is someone who has dedicated her life to address this complex and difficult area with missionary zeal. She is a person for whom the work is like prayers as her final journey of life. Raji is a medical doctor (sexologist & gynecologist), who has been working with children for a decade. Mentoring children to realize their full potential is her passion. She has travelled far and wide across the length and breadth of the country interacting and speaking to children, parents and teachers and also worked with several state governments to train teaching staff at government schools . Srishtilife has also covered twenty four lakh children across the social spectrum in a short period of time since its inception.
Raji during the course of her work has found that child sex abuse can be curtailed drastically if the children, parents, teachers and other well-wishers of the children are better equipped, well informed and have no communication barriers with the child. In most instances abuse does not happen overnight but after an incubation period, it is also not something that happens from strangers but by people known to the child. There are ominous signs that if you just look out for can prevent a young life going awry.
Me being in Srishtilife was simply because of Raji and her deep commitment to the cause. Srishtilife has the concept of “Have you gone back to your school”. Being an old boy I was keen to have Raji come to St Joseph's. Today this was fructified and she had a session at school with the children of fifth, sixth, seventh and eight standard.
The program started off with responsibility and then smoothly merged into responsibility with regards to child sex abuse. I realized for myself how very critical it is to be responsible to the word child sex abuse. How responsibility can be inculcated and imbibed in young minds and how we miss out on this crucial aspect – and yet how simple it can be if we just make the effort. All the time we hear the word good touch and bad touch and it can get a tad confusing beyond a point. Raji spoke about the brain and the impact of emotions on the intellect - it was a whole new refreshing approach to addressing a feared topic. The teaching was done in an objective manner and was not subjective. Then there were skits that were held by the team of Srishtilife to convey some of the key messages along with the five points of safety - ensuring the Jospehites felt connected and were learning with fun.
The program concluded with the children giving a promise for being responsible - first to themselves and later as the powerful future of our nation. At the end of the program Raji and team got a standing applause.
I did feel a sense of pride that I could contribute in some small measure towards my fellow young Josephites and have Raji address them on responsibility. Responsibility is such a powerful answer for the children and for every human being .
It is heartening to see people like Raji stay so deeply committed to a cause and be a support for several children, teachers and parents. With changing times parents need to change and speak to their wards about the need for safety of their body. Most parents desist from any talk around sexuality and this is the reason the child is unable to address his concerns and sometimes gets information that is incorrect ingrained in his psyche from dubious sources. Communication between parents/teachers and the child must be open and the child must feel comfortable with his parents/teachers and look upon them as his best friends. This will go a long way to ensure that the child has adequate psychological support and can always tell his well-wishers what is happening in his life so that remedial steps can be taken well in advance if anyone is prying on the child's vulnerability rather than deal with a difficult aftermath.
Thanks to Rev. Fr. Clifford Sequeira, Mrs Angelo and the OBA for facilitating this program and for Raji to take time off from her busy schedule to come and address our Josephites.
Suraj R. Jumani (Class of 1993)