Nils Roman, former Coach, is sharing about his 1 year mission!
Nils Roman, former Coach of Care 4 Change Pahar Ganj, Delhi, India
A bit more than one year ago, I arrived in New-Delhi to live an experience with the wish to grow as a human being and a professional. As expected, this experience taught me hundreds of values, qualities, skills, and memories that I will bring to my side all my life. This experience was to be a Coach for the professional and social integration of excluded young adults.
Today, I want to share with you deeper things than how my experience was, what I lived there, and how the country was. I want to tell you stories that offered me three outstanding learnings that I received during this one-in-a-lifetime experience alongside the Delhi Youth and my co-catalysts.
1- Positivity “If you are positive, you’ll see opportunities instead of obstacles.”
In June, my center was facing many challenges that we can list as follows:
- One coach when we are supposed to be two
- A lack of Youth in the center due to the pandemic and bad retention of the newcomers
- A building in poor condition
Therefore, we were thinking about closing it. As you can imagine, this is not an easy decision to take when you know that this centre is also a place where excluded young adults are allowed to dream and build a brighter future.
Thousands of questions were raised in my mind: How to save this centre? How do I tell the Youth about it? What will happen to me and to the Youth? How will they feel about it?
It didn’t take long before the same questions were raised in the mind of the Youth and for them to ask me. Therefore, in July, I decided to tell the Youth the truth about everything without any filters. It was not an easy afternoon since almost all of them were feeling abandoned (again for some of them), were feeling confused, were feeling scared (and I was also). However, I wanted to be positive, and I told them to be too! The solution was to stay unified to find slums areas nearby the centre, motivate excluded young adults, and help the newcomers to feel good when they arrive.
During the next weeks, unexpected things happened… In less than 2 weeks the Youth smashed all the challenges of finding new areas and recruiting new Youth. After one month, the team of 8 became a team of 21 motivated young adults ready to move into a brand new LP4Y center.
Today, I want to tell you that positivity is something magic. It first allows you to push the boundaries of your mind and others' mind but it is also something that we can forward to anyone! To know more about the power of positivity you can also check out the story written by the Youth of Paharganj.
“I am no one to judge you, and neither you are.”
8:58 am on the clock and it was time for my co-catalysts and me to go down to the ground floor in the training room to start the typical “Professional checking”. Nevertheless, that 10th February, it was different from the other days since many Youth were in front of the door speaking, shouting instead of being sited in the room to start the morning briefing. We started to ask the team what was happening, and they answered that a young drug addict wanted to join the centre. The team explained to us that it was not good for the centre since it could create a bad dynamic. Being catalysts, it was not possible for us to stop at that answer and we had to cross the doorstep to meet that guy. He was standing in the street 5 meters away from the door, scared, terrified, with his cloth in his mouth soaked in glue (the cheapest drug commonly used by poor people in India). As you can imagine, we were also confused about how to act and what to do even more when this person doesn’t speak our language. At the same time, I remember this neighbor crossing our way and telling this young guy aggressively “Jao jao!” which means “go away, go away!” and telling us “Don’t take care of him, he is lost, you can’t do anything”. Still, after almost one year in India, it was inconceivable for me to give up and to listen to that neighbor. In other words, it was not possible for me not to try to help him. Who am I to judge that young man?
Therefore, I decided to call Shankar and Dilip (2 Youth of the program) to come with me to speak with that “drug addict”, to translate and explain to him what was LP4Y.
The beginning of the conversation was surrounded by apprehension, fear, and wariness to progressively leave the place to peace, intensity, and comprehension. What was different from the beginning? To ask his name which was Kamal and to consider him as a human being, not a cleaner! After this sincere discussion, we came back to the training room with the 2 Youth. It was important for us to speak to the team in order to remind them what is exclusion, how we should face it, and how to fight it. We finished the talk with the hope that Kamal would join us the next day. Unfortunately, he never came back. However, Kamal’s teaching on that day will always come back to our mind when it will be about meeting unknown people and accepting them as they are.
“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you face it with courage and with the best that you have to give.”
I believe that it can be hard to accept the changes that life is bringing in our life, it can be difficult to accept a gift or the help of others. For me, it was difficult to accept that people in difficult situations were opening their little home. At first, I was not feeling comfortable to sit on their “family bed” (a bed where all the family is usually sleeping), to take the food and drinks they were offering to me. However, home visit after home visit, I started to accept what they had to offer to me without any shame. It was probably the best decision I could have taken. It allowed the family to not only open their home to me but also their heart. Consequently, it allowed me to understand deeply the situation of the youth, as well as, his/her family condition. Above all, those true discussions taught me things that I will carry forever in my life such as the true meaning of welcoming someone! As I said, people can also be resilient to the changes that life is bringing to them. According to me, resistance to change is not a good idea because it could take you away from improvement. To illustrate this concept, I would like to share with you the story of one youth. Shamsher is 18 years old and is living in Kirti Nagar a slum area nearby the railways. This area is unsanitary, addiction to alcohol and drugs are part of it, and violence can also represent a challenge in some families. When he first arrived at the center in July, Shamsher was a young man very unconfident, low level in English, and shy but with a strong motivation to change his life. After 2 months, Shamsher had done many improvements in English and confidence but he was still facing huge challenges. Indeed, Shamsher was showing disrespect toward his teammates and the coaches. He was not able to receive any feedback from people and was struggling to step back about him. At some point, he was becoming violent and arrogant with people. As coaches, we had to tell him that it was necessary for him to change as soon as possible because these kinds of behavior would not be allowed in any company. He was always listening carefully and eager to learn but he was struggling with the bad habits created by his life and his environment. I remember him one day, after a fight in the team, in a dark room with his punches on the table and his eyes closed thinking about which decision to take. Leaving the center and going back to his old life or staying in the center, going out of his comfort zone and accepting to change his life (which means his friends and all the things he was used to). However, after some time, magic happened again and he started to become a key player in the team, being able to manage people and push them to do better and better. I understood that Shamsher was in the process to become a better person and had accepted to change when I saw him, one day, with a newcomer in a room. He was explaining to the newcomer why it is important to deal with negative feelings and how to change them into positive ones.
Shamsher has now finished LP4Y and is working in a loan company.
Stepping back from my hometown, I can say that one year ago, starting this adventure with no idea of what was waiting for me was the best decision I could have taken.
Finally, I would like to add that there is no limit in this world when positivity, love, and resilience are part of the same team.
I would like to thank all the people that were on my side during this crazy year. To my Paharganj and Sangam Vihar fellows, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me, giving me advice, and accompanying me for one year. I can definitely call you “Family” now! To all the Youth I have been working with, many times you told me “Thank you Coach” but today again, I want to say thank you so much for teaching me so many things about myself and who I want to become. To all my co-catalysts, thank you so much for the great time we spent together and all the good memories we built together. To LP4Y, thank you for building bridges between the excluded world and the included world where dreaming for tomorrow is possible.