Swachh Bharat Summer Internship Experience of a B.Com Student: Cleaned the Banks of Tamirabarani River, Taught School Kids Hygiene Tips
This is submitted as an entry to the Noticebard Internship Experience Writing Competition 2019.
Name, College, Course, Year
S.Chithra, II B.Com, St.Xaviers College, Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu.
I am a proud intern of the ‘NSS Swachh Bharat Summer Internship’ which was a wonderful initiative of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The duration of the internship was roughly twenty days (10th to the 30th of July).
My Friends and I, a team of seven enthusiastic young girls, applied for this internship through the NSS Unit of our college and we were selected. We had to work on the pulse areas of sanitation and hygiene in our adopted village during this period. There was no stipend for the internship as it was a voluntary activity undertaken for social benefit.
Our adopted village was Muneerpallam, a hamlet located in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. We waited rather impatiently for the internship to begin and were looking forward to our maiden visit. Many of us haven’t had any close encounters of Rural India. We chose the bus as our mode of transportation, as the village is located at a distance of 7 km from our college. Determined to work hard to receive the “Best team” award from the university, we headed on to the village with positive vibes.
Muneerpallam is a quiet village with kind-looking people. We were welcomed with open arms by the amiable villagers. The children of the village threw a spontaneous smile at us. This gesture elevated our spirits and we were looking forward to having a close interaction with those bubbling young minds.
As it was our first day, we explored the village thoroughly and fixed our work location to understand the life of the villagers. We also met the government officials in the village to seek their support and to discuss our action plan for the next twenty days.
First things first, we had to satisfy our tummies before doing any kind of work. We bought a packet of Chips from a local shop. After munching them like monsters (which is our normal way of eating….lol…), we asked a shopkeeper lady where the dustbin was to dispose of the wrapper. She simply asked me to throw it somewhere. I then realized why dustbins are generally the cleanest places in India. I understood that the villagers had little sense of cleanliness and that ought to be instilled to a down root level.
While we were scrutinizing the village, a teacher of the Panchayat Union Primary School approached us and asked if we could help him in cleaning and painting the school campus. We agreed. We were stunned by the facilities of that government school, which was equal to that of any private school in Tirunelveli city.
The school was well equipped and looked green. We promised ourselves to complete the work before the internship terminates. So we spent roughly 2 hours in the school on a daily basis and then would undertake other activities for the next 2 hours. We undertook a number of activities to improve the hygiene and sanitation index of the village.
To introduce the habit of using dustbins among the kids of a Kindergarten, I had an ingenious plan. We distributed chocolates to the kids and asked them to dispose of the wrappers. To our surprise, all those kids threw them in the dustbin that we had installed. I realized another truth…that if kids are taught properly they will act responsibly with environmental concern and it is the so-called elder generation that needs a change in their mindset.
We made the villagers aware of solid waste management. We educated them about segregating the bio-degradable and non-biodegradable wastes.
We also arranged a lecture on self-hygiene and gave hygiene tips to the school students. We taught them how to wash their hands properly. To encourage their creative minds and to foster a sense of cleanliness, we conducted a drawing competition on Swachh Bharat & awarded the winners with prizes.
To promote the nationwide process of constructing toilets and stopping open defecation we issued pamphlets to the villagers in this regard to the residents.
The beautiful perennial river Tamirabarani traverses through this village. But it has become much polluted, due to the disposal of waste there. We spent a whole day on its bank in cleaning the waste.
Days were slipping by, those 20 days flew and it was our time to depart. The villagers arranged for a valedictory function for us and greeted us with gifts and appreciated our work in the village.
As a memory of our internship, we planted around 10 saplings in the village and asked our little friends to take care of it once we leave. This, I believe, will make us live in the hearts of the villagers for posterity.
Also, the kids to whom I talked daily, surprised me with a toy heart as a gift as a token of their love. It was the first time that I received anything as cute as that. I was not even familiar with their names but the love they had for us made me overwhelmed with joy. I started crying, choked with emotions…
While we were waiting for the bus, I again went to the shop and bought chocolate. This time while I was to keep the chocolate wrapper in my bag, that same lady shopkeeper showed me the dustbin to dispose of it. I surprisingly asked her what made her get a dustbin now. She proudly said something that makes me proud even today as I write this piece: “it seems some college students had come to my daughter’s school and taught about cleanliness. One day while she saw our customers throwing wrappers down she strictly said that we have to get a dustbin and forcibly brought a dustbin here”.
Listening to this and avoiding self-proclamation, we all smiled at each other. We may or may not succeed in getting the best team award from the university, but we have succeeded in instilling our motto in the minds of young ones of the village. They would take this back to the rest of the village, and that’s enough for a Swachh Bharat initiative. While we were floating in our thoughts at cloud nine, the horn of the bus awoke us, and we came back with satisfaction and lifelong memories.
And to the future interns….. Here is something from your senior intern; Do your internship wholeheartedly. There will come times when you start questioning the reason why you signed up for your internship in the first place. My advice…..keep the currents flowing. What is the best thing for a stream? It is to keep moving. If it stops, it stagnates. So, the best thing for an intern is that which keeps the currents going- the physical, the moral, and the intellectual currents. Hence the secret is to keep doing it-some congenial work… Happiness comes most to persons who seek her least and think least about it. It will follow my dear friend. All the best from the bottom of my heart…Thanks for reading…Cheers!
Here are some clicks taken during the internship…
About the Author
Loved my student life, love talking to students now. I am a wearer of multiple hats (wife, mom, cook, chauffeur). My job is my hobby! :)