Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kids Learn to Give Back

Walt Disney, the man behind the magical kingdoms believed that ‘our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children’ perhaps foundation to catch them young. Our children have innocent emotions that are often exhibited in their tranquil love, laughter and smiles and soulful hugs. They have tiny yet bountiful hands and bright eyes that illuminate our habitat. Children celebrate life through their propensity to compassion. Their imagination and spontaneity often expresses giving through sharing; be it snuggling with pets or feeding birds or even sharing their toys with friends. Lunchtime at school often deepens such emotion.

Encouraging this art of bestowing in our children at young age evolves a chance and not a choice to service. It helps them reach out to the under privileged and oppressed. An education to relinquish or service before self makes them independent and responsible adults worthy of capacity and character. Giving as the first lesson to philanthropy binds children in the cause for humanity. As soul’s comfort, giving promotes nobility in thoughts and actions and carves a route to mindfulness and contentment. Such lessons of life can shape our children as empathetic leaders tomorrow. It can integrate community kinship with better citizenship. As social cheerleaders, learning to give also keeps children away from pride and prejudices. It matures them to distinguish between real and fake, truth or false and needs and wants.

Our children are tomorrow’s time and their today should orient them to life’s roller coaster rides. Nurturing their giving aptitude today helps them learn that life is beautiful, as also deep. This can be learned looking at the homeless or orphans struggling to love and be loved or the starved in the slums and the ones abused and battered. This lesson of life by the sidewalk helps our children to understand the essence of balance and encourages them to share abundance to fill dearth. Such change at a nascent age would be a gratification with life tomorrow; a lesson difficult to adopt at older ages. 

 Our children as the seeds of hope for prosperity in humanity are vital links in the invisible chain that unites us all under the eternal roof. The holiday season is an occasion for all of us to knit together such emotions in our children so that enthusiasm and excitement of childhood is a right equally enjoyed by all kids. An initiative of the holidays can slowly be molded as a regular habit in children to confer at charities of their choice. Giving can nest in toddlers too by reiterating words like help, share, joy and bless. With giving and not just getting, our children shall see this world much bigger than just the love for their mommy and daddy in it.

Copyright (c) 2009 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot
Photo Courtesy:  Barkha Dhar

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Walk Down Memory Lane

It was a chilly Saturday morning yet cars were driving into an elementary school parking lot. I saw men, women, children and even babies in their strollers ready for the countdown. It sure wasn’t a PTA meeting or a book fair or any event on the school’s calendar but obviously something so significant that people were gathered in strong numbers dressed in heavy jackets and rain boots for a cause. Perhaps this was a cue to their emotions and sentiments, as also to their mighty strength that led them stand upright in a crazy whether. As I walked towards the venue, I saw canopies with volunteers signing up people while few others offering hot coffee and refreshments. There were teenagers selling raffle tickets and a local radio station trying to jiggle up the crowd with some good music. The venue even had a kid’s zone and a man masked as a giant Red bird happily taking pictures with toddlers. This place resembled a fair where people gather for fun and good time but the event indeed was deeper than what it appeared to the naked sight. The badge that the attendees proudly wore said, ‘Be the voice of Change’ and nothing could have been a stronger advocacy for a cause than these people themselves as an intervention to change.

In this heap of energy there stood a banner that said, ‘We are on the move to end Alzheimer’s, not just an informational display but a gush of high spirits. It undoubtedly reflected Alzheimer’s Association’s perpetual combat with a human cause in order to keep hope alive and evolving. As I was moving ahead in the crowd, I got the opportunity to intermingle. I saw families and long term caregivers showing their unified courage and posterity for an Alzheimer free world. My mind suddenly experienced an inertia of thoughts to hear the somber sufferings of these care givers who underwent an emotional roller coaster while loosing their loved ones’ to an austere test of time and not just a disease. This event on the day of October 3rd marked no ordinary day in their calendars but a reminiscence of the past to convey that Alzheimer’s is not a parasite of the mind but a continued conflict of emotions.

It was undoubtedly a first hand experience for me to hear some heart-pinching cases of countenance to pain, depression and stress as these care givers remembered how mom/dad or a spouse underwent cognitive and emotional transitions after the onset of dementia. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is a disease commonly characterized as memory loss. It not only is a slow transformation in the patient’s memory, routine activities, physical and emotional health but also an alarm of an overwhelming remorse for their caregivers as well. This event on the day of October 3rd was an occasion when people from different walks of life came together not just to walk a mile or more on the constitutional trail but to release their fears and show a zest for life. Most families participating in the event had been care giving in the past and some were still fighting all odds to materialize resources and help for their loved ones. I could fairly sense past trembles in some of the voices and see the gloomy expressions on their faces as they tried to calm their yesterday. Most of them feared Alzheimer’s as it is genetic. Some of them even wish for a brighter tomorrow with a hope for its cure just like there is for cancer now.

In this ride through time I apparently forgot the chills from the blowing winds and the drizzle from the pouring clouds as care giver stories were wounding enough to encapsulate my mind. Hard to believe initially yet fatally true in this journey down memory lane, these people who shared their concerns on Alzheimer’s had experienced a sea of anguish. How could one imagine a daughter unfailingly trying to soothe a parent’s behavioral triggers not caring about her own vulnerability to stress? Or a wife losing her social life and companionship to a wave of demented life? My comprehension of these befalling accounts could possibly have been no way near comparison to these caregivers as ‘one who suffers knows it the most’. However as a human I have the right to share my compassion and empathize with intensity of pain named Alzheimer’s, a disease that grossly impacts somebody’s will to a dense and hearty life. I imagined had some of these loved one’s (mom/dad or spouse) been alive and active today, they would have enjoyed the joy of grand parenting or even seeking the charm of growing old with their spouse’s love.

With mixed emotions bundling up in my heart and a mind more inquisitive than ever, I spoke to some caregivers to feel in the stress that wears them out night and day while serving an Alzheimer’s patient. My discussions revealed that care giving for a disease like Alzheimer’s is an emotional toll that affects and influences the mind constantly through stress. It also drains out positive energy and sometimes may even build pent up feelings. However fortunately an event like Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory walk seemed just an appropriate outlet for calming emotions and renewing energy for caregivers to get back to action. It also facilitates expanding care-giving network between patient families and long-term care units. The event is a socialization medium and also a support group for like-minded people. Moreover Memory Walk also helps promote community kinship in a mission against a cause that seems indomitable in the present time. With an opportunity to contribute back to the society, it evolves volunteerism in young children and teenagers as they see their families’ struggle to shell out of the so-called Alzheimer’s cocoon. This event is also a tribute to the indelible loss that our community has suffered over the past years. Most importantly Memory walk conveys fellow feelings for the one’s who in this moment are lying tight fisted, immobile, unable to put their thoughts into words either on nursing home beds or as wander guards in their wheel chairs as if they were nomadic in their own community and country.

Truth remains that our mind is the habitat to our thoughts, emotions and actions. Any disease that takes away this right should not be a cause but a consequence that needs concurrence now. For Alzheimer’s Long term care or rehabilitation should be an option and not just the conclusion. This battle against Alzheimer’s is now two folds, generating hope to release patients/ families/caregivers from surmounted anxieties, as also finding a cure to keep the baby boomers away from the onset of a disintegrated life. The thought of nestling into a stage in life where one contends with their will to survive seems like an unjustified end. As I now try to close the chapter of 3rd October in my life, my mind would still toss with some unanswered questions. I shall try my best to move on, yet traces of this day and this event shall be a part of my memory for a long time.

Copyright (c) 2009 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot