THE WISE FOOL?
Gajanant Sawant worked in a textile factory near Bombay. He worried
about the squalor in which his and many other workers' families
lived, but couldn't see what he could do about it.
One day at an industrial seminar he met people who said they had
discovered unexpected solutions to their problems by listening to
the inner voice in their hearts. When Sawant sat quietly to think
out his own problems, he got the idea that he should start cleaning
up the mess in the paths between the huts and not wait for someone
else to do it.
So when he got home he set to work. People just watched and laughed
at him, but no one offered to help.
If he was your dad, would you want him now to give up?
He was very tempted to stop, but after a few days some children
fetched brooms and joined him. Next he bought a bucket and rope
to clean the well, which had been used as a rubbish dump. Here again
his friends thought he was crazy because there was no proof that
he would find any water.
Should he carry on, even if others are not convinced?
One by one other men did join him until it became a village project.
Eventually the well was cleared and clean spring water began to
flow in. The people started to point out other problems. "We
need a school," someone said. "Then our children would
not have to cross that very dangerous road."
Now what do you think? He has got no money to do anything
more. A lot of people are satisfied. Hasn't he done enough?
Gajanant Sawant sat back and basked in what he had done. He was
made the head man of his village and therefore was able to see that
it was kept clean. However, fewer children went to school and many
spent their time hanging around the village getting into trouble.
Sawant started to think how money could be raised to buy the materials
to build a school. He decided to start a fund by giving up smoking.
Many followed his example and others stopped gambling and drinking.
Soon they had enough money to make a start. Later they found a teacher
and raised the money to pay her a small salary. Although the village
had been built illegally, the five owners of the land were so impressed
by all that the villagers had done for themselves, that they decided
to pay for piped water and electricity to be brought there.
Personal account by Joy Weeks