My greatest fear during my childhood was that of people; let me elaborate. I only feared people who were not normal. Blind people, deaf people, amputees, I could not muster the bravery to even look at them, let alone talk, and interact with them. I now feel ashamed of this fear, but I could not understand what had happened with these people, and man fears what he cannot understand. The greatest obstacle that I had to overcome was overcoming this fear.

During summer 2011, our school had tasked us to spend 3-4 weeks at a school for special children as our community service project. We were also required to prepare a report, and show a certificate as proof. I was extremely apprehensive about this. I always kept this fear of mine a secret, but during the night before the first day, I was frozen with fear. I could not sleep the whole night, and in the morning, I told my mother, with tear-filled eyes, that it would be impossible for me to do the project. Initially, my mother was filled with rage. But then, when she saw genuine fear in my eyes, she hugged me close, and patiently told me that there was nothing different about these people, except that they were less fortunate. They were completely normal people who had some unfortunate accidents. My mother’s words of advice and encouragement helped to calm the waves of anxiety. It turned out that the 3 weeks I spent at ‘Bal Kalyan Sanstha’ was one of the most inspiring and transformative experiences ever. My main job as a volunteer was to help around in general. I had to help the various children and give them company. It was a lot of fun and a very good learning experience. Here I got to see people, who did not have limbs, could not see, or hear, as well as people with learning disabilities trying to perform everyday tasks like painting, reading, writing, and even walking with great difficulty. One of the most inspiring sights was the art classes that were held. Here, I saw about 50 children,…

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