“Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms” – Anthony Storr
We live in a world obsessed with perfection, and have long forgotten the beauty of imperfection. Our differences are what make us beautiful. This simple yet powerful statement needs to be imbibed in our future generations. From the advertisements promoting makeup to cover our imperfections, to the ones asking us to go through procedures to remove body fat, everything seems to be so superficial.
Perfection is good and necessary in order to excel at something, but an obsession about perfection can never make you a happier person. Just a few days back, I saved a post on Facebook about a company here in the US, called ‘Imperfect Produce’. Here is a link to their website https://www.imperfectproduce.com. This company sells subscription boxes of produce, to reduce food wastage in today’s wasteful world by sourcing vegetables and fruits that are ugly and not sold at the supermarkets. And this so called ugly, yet perfectly nutritious produce, costs 30-50% less to encourage people to buy it. This is such a wonderful idea. It got me thinking, just because we expect a kiwi to be oval, we won’t buy one if it looks different. When I showed a picture of a so called ugly fruit to my son, he said look mommy it’s a heart, I want it! All we could see was a weird looking fruit, but a 3-year-old who hasn’t been coached yet by us to see through a prism of judgement’s, sees a beautiful heart.
The point of this post is not ugly produce or food wastage. It is to wake all of us up and urge others in our surroundings to look at everything differently. Anything different is considered out of place and not welcomed as per the definitions and norms that have been set by our society. Things are considered normal and good when measured as per these standards. However, all of us, including me are hypocrites. If normal was so good, then why do we like supermodels more, they are definitely different than majority of ‘normal’ girls. Why is abstract art valued so much, which shows us a different and unusual way of looking at things? Why do we pay more price for fashion which is one of a kind? Because somewhere deep down we don’t want all things normal. We don’t want the same old. Then why not apply this to everything in life?
At this point, it’s my pleasure to introduce all of you to ‘Urmi Foundation’. A place which is not just changing the way we see things, but its also helping to change the way we do things. Urmi Foundation is an NGO founded by Sonalee Shyamsundar, who also happens to be my childhood friend. She single handedly has started this wave of change. Sonalee is a political science graduate and has worked with many governmental and non-governmental organizations before she started the Urmi Foundation. Urmi Foundation operates in Mumbai and is helping differently-abled children get access to the education they deserve, against all odds. They have been providing such children with means of learning something new, make new friends and explore things they had no idea of. Collaborating with the BMC (Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation), they develop learning programs for these special children. Her love and passion for this cause are the true driving force behind their success.
From dedicatedly travelling through the slums of Mumbai, looking for children with special needs, to convincing and counselling their parents to enroll them in schools, team Urmi is relentlessly trying to bring that change. Urmi Foundation designs courses and activities for developmentally challenged children to reduce their dependency and improve their social and academic skills. The main goal of this foundation is to make it easier for special needs children to get into the education system and become independent. Many parents are unaware of the right way to handle such challenges, many struggle to provide their child with a normal life, some are afraid that their child will not be given the proper care and attention and some are even ashamed of their own flesh and blood. Such views lead to dry and cruel nature towards other innocent human beings.
Urmi teaches us to rise above these conventional and superficial thoughts and be the change that is required to help such children or youth integrate into mainstream society by providing them the adequate support and education standards. Barring a few, most of the populace is indifferent towards these issues till they see a loved one suffer. This approach is what is hampering and holding back all good that we can do. If each person in the environment of such kids or families, helps them out a little with compassion and love, life would be so much easier and happier. We need to break free of these societal pressures and religious shackles, where people like Sonalee aren’t invited to baby showers (dohal jevan) so that her negative aura doesn’t pass over to the baby. Yes, you read that right. And these beliefs exist across different strata of society.
The only way we can ensure that our children grow up with feelings of empathy and kindness is to lead by example. My son is like a sponge absorbing all that I am saying and doing. If I accept that all of us are different and yet special in our own way, he will too. That will be the only way of life he knows.
Wouldn’t the world be a more beautiful and comforting place if we taught our future generations the beauty of imperfections and differences! A simple way to contribute to this change is to help organizations like Urmi strive and succeed. Urmi Foundation carries forward their good work based on the generous people who donate to and believe in their good work towards this noble cause.
You can read more about them at www.urmifoundation.com
Feel free to contact Urmi Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at +91 9152004790.