What a week! Week One was a week of first experiences: maneuvering the Delhi Metro, acclimating to the heat and humidity, testing our limits on spicy foods, learning about Indian culture, meeting students at D.A.V Public School, and starting at our placement sites.
Tuesday began our first day at our placement sites. As a group, we are split between four different sites: NAZ, Action for Autism, Butterflies, and SPYM: Be Your Own Light. I, along with Maddie Hess and Nathaniel Hernandez, will be observing and learning at SPYM for the duration of our trip. SPYM is a one-of-a-kind program here in India. The focus of SPYM is treating and assisting drug-addicted boys. All of the patients at SPYM are boys aged 7-18 who were arrested for some crime and were addicted to drugs. SPYM takes in these boys, puts them through a period of detox, tests their literacy skills, and then puts them through a 90-day program where the focus is mentorship and the purpose is to encourage the boys that there is a way out and that they can succeed in life.
The first week we spent two days with the boys who are ages 7-14. The first part of the day we observed their lessons. The second part of the day we ran activities and hung out with the boys. They were so excited to teach us new games so we could play together. The first day after leaving SPYM I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that these boys were at some point addicted to drugs, and my head was swarming with questions. All I could think about was how fun and energetic the boys were. This was a great reminder to me that many people have invisible stories and that people are defined by so much more than certain experiences or difficulties.
All I could think about was how fun and energetic the boys were. This was a great reminder to me that many people have invisible stories and that people are defined by so much more than certain experiences or difficulties.
The second day I began to ask questions. The question that I was most curious about was the success of the program. The therapist who works at SPYM stated that the success rate is less than 50% and some boys have been through the program 4-5 times. It was hard to believe that some of the boys who were sitting around me teaching me a new card game, in which I somehow seemed to lose every time, would end up leaving SPYM and relapsing back to drugs. However, the therapist quickly added that even though success rate is not what they wished it would be, if SPYM helps save one boy than the program can be deemed successful. This gave me new perspective on how to consider the impact programs in general have, that statistics aside, positive change can occur even on a very small scale.