The first memory of meeting Kailash Satyarthi – 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner was with my first interview for the job as a Creative Director in Global March against Child Labour (GM).
After Alam, the in-charge of GM finished with the preliminary interview, I visited Bhaishaeb Kailash Satyarthi office first time in 1997.
I worked with GM for more than 7 years full-time and part-time till the time I left Delhi.
I have given many interviews before but never a chairperson of organisations like Bachpan Bachao Andolan and GM has greeted me with a big wide infectious smile – that was my first impression of Bhaishaeb Kailash Satyarthi. He did not ask me anything technical, but asked me what all can I do to help the website of GM.
Impressed by my vision of what I wanted this website to become, I joined the GM team. Work was usual but what was unusual was the people.
Foreigners, Indian staff, college volunteers and street kids used to walk around the place, laughter, chatting so basically it was very noisy place to work.
Lesson #1 : Clients – Kids with feelings, fear, insecurity and expectations from you – respect that
In my earlier office, I had huge multinationals clients, big offices and costly suits clients which you see meet. Here my clients had gone through violence and abuse – slave kids – bonded labourers. And here I see my clients, everyday.
- One 6-year-old girl who alleged raped by her uncle and was working in a house as servant.
- A 10-year-old boy who had never seen tube-light / fan cause he was in chain in a dark room as a bonded child labour since he started walking.
- A 14-year-old servant girl rescued whose head had a 7 inch puss-filled maggot-crawling wound and cigarette burn all over her body instead of clothes.
First time in my life, my work was directly in front of me. Walking, talking, crying, laughing – I saw the impact I was making through my work – saving a child, educating a child, bringing a smile in those tired, lost, scared faces.
It paved the way to the thought that I would dedicate my life to helping people as a teacher in Krav Maga as then as a social entrepreneur conducting Dr. Safety Power to Women Psychological Empowerment Workshops in Corporate & Franklin Joseph‘s Stop Crime on Women Workshops in Colleges / Schools.
Lesson #2 : Believe in your work – Admiration, threats, criticism, Respect are part of your quest
Kailash Satyarthi meets many kind of challenges everyday. Sometimes from within his well-wishers, sometimes from strangers. Sometimes its a good positive challenge, sometimes negative.
Admiration, protest, threats, criticism, Respect etc. was part of his daily lifestyle. But he went through all of them, with a warm smile on his face and kind yet firm words.
In my BadAzz Krav-Maga Self-Defense Military Combat Academy‘s class, we had a split recently with a Israeli-Indian organisations in which some students who did not like the method of my training stuck with the old organisation.
I felt bad loosing these people as I invest a lot personally and emotionally in them as well as a in a business sense, but then I realized that I needed to respect the choices people make and concentrate more than the people who believe in me and my method of training them.
Now we make sure every month, we have an open feedback session where the warriors get to share criticism and feedback directly to me and the senior core members.
I also got some threats for the way I speak about martial arts and self-defense from few people, but most of them were good instructors who were wrongly informed about me and my methods of training.
And there are certain people who still laugh at my being fat. I got that after serious chest fractures and other injuries in combat training. Moreover, being a pre-mature baby, I was injected with medicines to help me grow fat which can only be overpowered by heavy workout which I cannot do anymore.
Let them laugh and be happy. I am just happy, my training is something no one should or will laugh about. 🙂
But that point of view, where the subject line touches on areas where many people do not want to express or talk about especially when it connects to them in a very personal level.
The belief that punches and kicks of martial arts can solve the safety of women is a very old and redundant concept especially since the new-age criminals use new approach and used the trust factor by being known to the girls.
So it’s not so easy to let go of that concept of fighting the bad guys and walking away as a hero being just good for movies is difficult for many people.
Lesson #3 : Grass root Movement – Respect and treat everyone who believe in you as family & empower them with raw knowledge
Usually in a business, the client is only respected when he has the money to pay.
In the Global March against Child Labour movement, Kailash Satyarthi used to respected everyone and all were free to share and speak constructively.
Foreigners interns were asked to take up serious decisions, Indian staff were asked to join the campaigns and explore activism, rescued children were asked to stand up and raise a voice to educate others children as well as general people.
The focus was always on empowerment through raw knowledge gathered through grassroots movement.
In my BadAzz Krav-Maga Self-Defense Military Combat Academy classes, we have the Combat Psychological Empowerment discussions where everything from handwriting analysis, body language, voice modulations or psychological aspect of crime and criminals are talked about.
In the Corporate Power to Women Safety Empowerment workshops, I share many personal incidents that happened with me or my family so they understand this issue of women safety is very close near our house doorsteps and is affecting our families future.
In the Stop Crime on Women Seminars in School or Colleges, I always focus on sharing incidents and case studies from many of the people I meet to educate the participants with a grass root version of crime, violence, sexual harassment and sexual abuse which they do not read in newspapers or watch in TV.
Lesson #4 : Be a proud Indian – keep working, learn from the frowns & empower your quest with it
Kailash Satyarthi is a proud Indian, which I was not when I joined Global March. I looked at all the issues and problem India had and wanted to leave India if possible. He showed me that one Indian can also make a difference if he will work towards a vision of what he wants India to become.
The name Bhaishab instead of sir was in everyone mouth. At first I did it cause he was the boss, But then I noticed that he always followed and respected Indian traditions and never forced us into following him. His dedication and faith in what he believes, drove us to follow him and I started to call him Bhaishab cause I respected him like a big brother.
Many times, his method of approaching the issue of child labour was questioned. Yes, it was different, but this issue was also not that simple to be approached by conventional methods. He followed his heart and empowered his quest with his belief.
In both Corporate Power to Women Safety Empowerment workshops and BadAzz Krav-Maga Self-Defense Military Combat Academy, I ask my warriors to learn to respect mother India at least few times in the class or in the session. I make sure I say the word ‘Jai Hind’ during both the sessions.
I am a proud Indian today and I will work in contributing my skills to help make a small change for my fellow Indian.
More than just few Indian words, I also believe in the Indian values of educating the art of war in a child – both boy and girl. That why in my training, the children are trained in the equal rough and tough manner matching the adults.
Lesson #5 : Have fun – We have one life and share the laughter with anyone who comes to you
Kailash Satyarthi-ji opened his family and his house to us when there was a celebration. His family was not have any inhibitions and were always frank with us on whether its office issues or our family issues when we shared with them. They became the source of wise advises and sharp criticism – someone we could talk very openly with.
His Mukti Ashram (Rehabilitation center) became our favorite retreat with its barren hills and hundred of eagerly awaiting children waiting for the songs and dance.
The concept of BadAzz Krav-Maga Self-Defense Military Combat Academy Boot Camps in Dandeli and Goa were inspired by the Mukti Ashram trips. It gives us a chance to know my warriors very personally and it creates a very special bond of comradely usually developed between military commandos.
Photo Gallery from Franklin Joseph time in Global March against Child Labour
The best 7-10 years of my life which changed me in so many ways was due to people and friends in made in Global March, here are few photos of them. Miss you all.