Very rarely have I struggled for words whether on stage or to pen down my thoughts but probably this is the first time when I am completely blank and at a loss of words to pen down my few lines about Sangamam4.0. I just received a message on whatsapp from one of my kids and it read “Waiting for your FB post sir” and I replied “Iam so blank and don’t know what to write”…back came the reply “Write whatever comes to your mind about the last 4 days”. When I Iook back at this event, the idea was to expose our kids to some of the brightest minds, super achievers in the society from where they can draw some inspiration. All three editions in the past was curated with this single purpose and this edition was no different except that we wanted to try something different. We created a 30 minute slot on each day of the conference and wanted few of our Maatram alumni students to share their story with the audience. This was not just to inspire the students but I knew each one of them were carrying a huge baggage and holding back their pent-up emotions. What started as a simple exercise gained momentum and they received expert guidance/coaching from two of my good friends Sastharam and Jayan. The students were determined that they will not break down on stage but their stories crushed the audience into pieces leaving our guests and other speakers in tears. I have often been asked “ How do you manage to present these stories on stage…Don’t you ever choke” and I have never given a straight answer to that question. For someone who had presented these stories in hundreds of stages, I choked and cried….and in all these moments, I was thanking God profusely for bringing these children into our lives. Their situation was even difficult to imagine leave alone experiencing the pain.
Imagine a girl coming on stage who had lost both her parents in a span of 2 years even before completing her 12th exams speaking on a topic “Count your blessings” or another girl who went to school with her own child studying in the same school leaving a powerful message – Stand up against child marriage. Yet another young man – a son of a construction worker who is currently pursuing his dream of studying masters in IIT shared his journey of how he earned living as a Bouncer and prepared for his dream course. His topic read “I have a Dream”. Then there was this girl who walked up on stage and started her speech by saying – We all wear a mask and behind every mask there is a face and behind every face there is a story – An untold story and went on with her story which gave goosebumps to the audience. A girl who lost her father, helped her mother battle cancer and how she pulled out her family from shambles to currently working for a large IT Firm or the last story of a boy whose father was an auto driver and how constant insults from his relatives motivated him to get a dream package of 22 lakhs per annum and help settle his family. For me it was like listening to thousands of motivational talks all at one time.
On day one I sat in the first row to listen to these talks, found it difficult to manage…on Day two I went and sat along with my students and saw kids breaking down as many of them were able to relate to their story. I made the mistake of going up on stage to summarize my views and it was overwhelming to say the least and choked. Some of my friends/co-founders who asked the question “How do you manage to stay so strong” got their answer. On Day 3 I was standing in the last row putting up a brave front. After all the talks got over, our alumni students presented a mime show based on some real life stories of students from Maatram foundation and the climax was about how these students create the ripple effect of helping someone. Standing alongside me was Uday and both of us didn’t look at each other (Reason being obvious) and then he said something without looking into my face “Anna…idhey vida vera enna na venum” meaning “Anna…what else do we need more than this”. One of the speaker remarked – We came here to inspire you but on the contrary going back fully inspired. I can proudly say – If I get 10 of my students to speak to any audience, I am 100% sure you will go back as a different person. For me getting back home after Sangamam was like coming back from a Spiritual Retreat. Will write about other interesting events in the days to come. Thank you for all your good wishes & prayers. #Maatramfoundation #Sangamam4.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *