Why my job is bigger than my Pay Cheque

Contributed by: Angana Prasad
Dated: 3rd May, 2014

Lately, I have felt some “you can do better than this” pressure from loved ones. It doesn’t feel great to keep explaining my choices all the time but this time I am in no mood to give in to the pressures. They say ‘ find a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life’ … I think I am lucky enough to have found it in my very first job, so there is no way I am giving it up for these ‘societal’ pressures.

I have been working for the last year and a half and I know that every day I feel the same kind of motivation as I did on my first day. This might partly be true because I am a passionate person but more so because I am made to feel each day that my work loves me just as much I love it back. There is a lot of respect and credit that we give to each other’s opinions and experiences within the team, which is truly amazing, considering that our team comprises a bunch of freshers. I have heard how my friends say “office mein der tak rukna padta hai” or “yeh karna parta hai” or “woh karna parta hai” and luckily enough I never had the “karna parta hai” feeling with my job. We choose our own work time, choose tasks based on interests and set personal deadlines for internal tasks. If a task is not done, we happily work till late to get done with it. No one needs to impose anything on anyone. There is a lot of freedom to expression. Healthy discussions remain healthy and honest till the end, even if the team is in disagreement with the boss.

Talking about the awesome work culture, it goes without saying that the boss has to be equally awesome. I am sure getting us to understand and internalise such a unique culture based on trust, freedom and responsibility was a big chore. I remember how stupid Son (colleague) and I were at things, but he kept his patience and now we’re both totally awesome too. The outcome of this is there is a sense of ownership today which has been encouraged right from the beginning, even when we didn’t understand what he was talking about. Today ProjectKHEL is as much mine as it is of the founders who started it. I think of it as MY organization and every decision or innovation I make in the regular processes or new initiatives is based out of honest intentions. We all have the space to come up with ideas, try out new things and propose alternatives to existing practices. If it works, good and if it doesn’t, we move on. No blaming, no crying, no consequences. I have friends who are working in liberal work cultures and get their own share of creative space, but I do not know of ANYONE else who gets as much space as we do.

Right since school I wanted to do something about menstrual hygiene, thanks to this culture, I am able to do it now. I loved theatre, I got to introduce Life Skills Education through theatre. I was interested in doing Child Sexual Abuse related sessions with kids, I get to do it through ProjectKHEL. Anything and everything we have done and are continuing to do is a brain child of a colleague which the rest of team works together to execute. That’s the awesomeness of our team.

All the efforts that we put in office work has impacts and we see them every day. Every process that we have adapted and every aspect of our approach has an impact. When a rag picking kid from Shram Vihar washes his face before coming to the session, because didi-bhaiya had asked them to do so, it is impact. When an older kid walks up to teach a Volleyball move to a new one, without us having to ask for it, that is impact. When one girl squats on the floor with no clue of her under wear showing and the other one corrects her without laughing because we have taught her to sit properly and keep an eye on how others are sitting, we know we have made an impact.

The other day a child abused another one, realised that didi-bhaiya are around and said sorry immediately, that is the change we have made, because he was the same child who until yesterday wouldn’t think twice before hurling abuses before an elder and now he knows that he should not. We experience little moments of such happiness everyday and we know it for a fact that it is because of US. These are things we observe that has happened because of what we are giving and when we start receiving our individual returns, there is no feeling that can match up to it.

Earlier this week, a kid approached me with some personal questions about myself and it turned out that she was to write some lines about the person who she admires the most and she had chosen…. me!! I have no exact word for the emotion I felt at that time but I could only smile back sheepishly. I was happy and maybe a little more than just happy. I was a picky kid and for all inspiring and admiring person essays, I would end up writing about my mother because I barely thought anyone else was good enough. Today, a child has written about me!!

Some time back, I missed a session with one of our beneficiary groups and when I went there next, a little girl came up saying she missed me and doesn’t like it when I am not around. I was touched. There are so many of us coordinators, who visit sessions, all of who are equally good and likeable and yet a day that I don’t turn up, it matters to a kid and she expresses it… and not just me, the other coordinators also get to experience the same kind of love from our children. In fact, at a few of our partner location, the children still ask about Son and Arnab who have now left the team; at one place they refuse to play until Abhinandan bhaiya comes; when Pooja comes to any of our locations after a gap there is a mini-celebration of sorts!!

Writing this post and sharing just a few of the numerous moments that have meant so much to me makes me even more aware of what my job has given me and why no pay cheque can ever match up to these ‘perks’ ! Thank you ProjectKHEL!!