Under a beaming moon and the dark starry night, atop a mountain where Mount Madonna Schools sits, the senior class was granted the privilege to speak with Dr Metre. Dr Metre is the national director of CORD, which stands for Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development. CORD is a non-profit organization that works with individuals from rural villages in India to provide sustainable development programs.
Dr. Metre shared many things throughout the evening including her observation of the current world, the role of women within this world and her approach to improving the lives of those she encounters. One thing that struck me from the interview was when Dr. Metre told us about her conversations with the women in her community. She would ask the women what they did during the day. The women would respond “nothing.” Considering that they provided the care for their families this was a surprising answer. She shared that these women didn’t consider daily house chores and taking care of the children as “work.” To help the women understand just how much “work” they do in a day, Dr. Metre would ask them to write a journal of all things they completed in a day. Dr Metre also asked men within their household to journal all their activities for the day. Once the two lists were compared, the women saw they did much more work than the men. This exercise showed the women their value in society and within their household. Dr. Metre helps women and girls realize their self-worth and recognize everything they do for their family and community.
Another concept Dr. Metre presented that made me think, was the idea that the community needs human interaction. She explained that a healthy community depends on the opportunity to socialize and connect. She explained that women weren’t getting that opportunity to socialize and connect because they were working all day within their own homes. They were isolated from each other, while the men were socializing at the workplace. Dr. Metre is helping these women and girls prioritize interacting and having time to talk to their community and develop friendships as a way to improve their lives and strengthen their community.
This interview made me realize how important each person is to a community. It helped me realize that the little contributions of each individual are critical to the community and each person’s health. It makes you step back and think about all that is done for you and around you.
Dr. Metre is an inspiring, passionate woman who has dedicated her entire life to helping others. She chose to leave a life of privilege to help those less fortunate than her by doing work that impacts the roots of some of the biggest problems in India. But why? She revealed to us that her motives are the same as everyone else’s on the planet; she wants to be happy. While some believe material or experience brings the most joy, she told us, “The joy of helping is incomparable to any other happiness we get in life.” She went on to describe the numerous benefits and joy that comes from a life of service. When we help other people—not for the sake of ourselves, but for the sake of others—it becomes addicting. She said, “When we bring out our good qualities, we see how good we feel.”
It was incredibly inspiring to see a woman who not only was fiercely passionate and in love with her work—something we all hope to achieve—but also doing work that mattered and is making huge waves in the world. Her outlook on life and the true source of happiness was something I resonated with deeply. She talked about the small things we can do to help others and increase happiness, such as smiling. What a simple thing! Passing a stranger on the street, and all you have to do is smile. I think about how many missed opportunities have gone by in my life when our focus drifts to ourselves and away from others. If we all were to take even a fraction of the energy we spend thinking about ourselves and directed it to someone else, the world would be a much better place.
Dr. Kshama Metre is a down to earth person and very concise with her language. She answered all our questions to the best of her ability and made sure we understood her responses. You could tell that she enjoyed our time together just as much as we did. You could see her face light up when we asked a question that sparked her interest.
One of the things she said that stuck out to me the most was, “If you only have one stick in the broom, you can’t sweep.” Not only was this an excellent metaphor for the dangers of isolation and the necessity of contact, it also put them in concrete terms. It gave an example of what isolation does. Around this quote she talked about how society is built on human connection and how when that connection is lost, society starts to crumble. This response was related to how women in India are often isolated by their housework and start to see themselves as lesser. She talked about how men who work the same amount as women do better because they work in a social environment. She went on to discuss the importance of weekly or even monthly meetings of these women to increase moral and self confidence, and to connect them with others so they do not feel alone. This struck me because with social media we can be physically alone but surrounded by millions of people. In our society you never really have to be alone which, in my eyes, makes it even easier to feel alone.