Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The 3 Changemakers of Navagaon

11:09:00 AM
In a span of twenty five minutes, we saw a large number of rice fields, crossed over a railway track, encountered cows and buffaloes on the road and experienced a dusty patch due to a road under construction! This was our third day in Chhattisgarh and it started from the village of Masturi to an even smaller village of Eramsahi. We were here to witness some amazing action from the ‘Second Chance’ Program.  Noor, the coordinator for the Program in Chhattisgarh and Baliram, the Center in-charge at Masturi were with us.


Ahilya Kumari, Anjani Kumari and Rajin Kumari with the Borewell
Though education is the reason many dreams get propelled, it is an unfortunate fact that not many in rural India have an easy access to it! And even if children get an access, there are enough reasons that make them leave it half-way. This situation gets more intense if you are a girl! The ‘Second Chance’ program gives these dropout girls a platform to continue their education from the point where they left. 

We had a brief interaction with some of these girls at the ‘Masturi’ Center. Their whole-hearted participation in the Hindi lecture was enough to bring a smile on our face.  As they greeted me ‘Good Morning Sir’ with a smile on their face and a confident eye-contact, I was convinced that these girls have come here with a resolve! A resolve to make the most of the ‘Second Chance’ life had given them!


However there was an additional reason why we had chosen to visit the ‘Second Chance’ Program that day. This Program includes a ‘Life Skills’ component in its syllabus. It ensures that students learn some fundamental skills which help them face real life situations. The girls here were asked to identify a particular problem in their village and try to come up with its solution. We were to speak to these girls who had collectively addressed such a problem and thereby created a positive impact!

A small child ran with one of our motorbikes till a small building and we were greeted with curious eyes peeping out from the little huts. The Center at Eramsahi had arrived. As we entered the class, an intense session of arithmetic was underway. The enthusiasm of the girls participating and interacting with the tutor rendered the small size of the class a useless factor! As the girls sat cross-legged on the floor, I was reminded of my own school where we had the luxury of wooden benches and open windows.  Many of these girls, as they told us, walk from nearby villages to this center.  They were indeed a perfect example of determination overcoming physical hardships! The girls at this center come from Hardadi, Malhar and Navagaon villages. In addition to them, some girls are from Eramsahi.

The girls were happy to see Noor but were surprised to see the two of us. Hence during the introduction most of them maintained a studied silence as they heard us talk. Most of them nodded their heads in agreement to whatever we said. But when we asked them about the work they did in the village, their eyes lit up! We asked them to reassemble and sit according to the villages they represented. Soon we had four groups of girls, each from Navagaon, Malhar, Eramsahi and Hardadi.

The students from the four villages at the Eramsahi Cluster 


“In our village, there was a water problem. The women in the village had to walk a great distance to fetch water. So we insisted to the Sarpanch that our village should have a borewell”, said Ahilya Kumari, an enthusiastic girl from the Navagaon village. “However the elders in the village asked us why we were getting into all this. Our elder brothers felt we were wasting time”, said Anjani Kumari from the same village. “We had to visit the village Sarpanch many times during this period. Finally he agreed and we now have a Borewell in our village”, she further added. Both these girls had in a way represented the psyche of the society that we live in! By now all the girls had opened up and started to talk to us.

“We will be very happy if you come to our village and see the borewell”, Anjani requested us. Navagaon was not very far from the place and hence we acceded to her request. This was followed by a 25 minute bike ride from Eramsahi to Navagaon. Small huts and narrowed roads greeted us to Navagaon and we could see curious onlookers wondering about us, the new entrants to their premises. We were then escorted to a lake and then to the borewell that was installed because of the efforts of these girls! The joy on their faces when they said ‘Yeh hamne kiya hain’ (we have done this) was priceless! “Abhi hamare yahan ke mahilayon ko dusre gaav mein paani lane nahi jaana padega”, (Now the women here won’t have to go to any other village to fetch water) they added.
Students in rapt attention in the Hindi lecture at the Masturi HUB Center 


However we were headed towards a surprise! Ahilya’s house was very near to the lake and she insisted that we should visit her house and meet her parents. And in the next instance we found ourselves entering a small hut with happy faces of her parents welcoming us inside. “Hame bahut accha lagta hain, hamari beti padh rahi hain aur usne yeh kaam kiya hain” (We all feel very good that our daughter is learning again and she has done this work), said her parents with satisfaction! All the three girls are now charged up to do something more for the village. They now want to build a school in the village that offers education till the 12th grade. By this, they say, children won’t have to walk long distances to any other village for school! 


As we were ready to leave Ahilya’s house, Noor suggested that we all should go and meet the village Sarpanch and ask him how he felt working with these girls. We happily agreed and insisted that the girls should also accompany us to his house. And in the matter of ten minutes we found ourselves facing the Sarpanch of the village. He greeted all of us, but an expression of surprise was visible on his face. Finally when we introduced ourselves and started talking about this project, he also became a part of the conversation.

The three girls with the Village Sarpanch 

“ Bahut accha lag raha hain, ke koi hamare saamne apni samasya lekar aaya, aur yeh bhi accha laga ki yeh ladkiyan gaav ke liye kuch karna chahti hain” ( I felt very good, that someone came to me with their problem and I felt  better that these young girls want to do something for our village). There was a smile on the faces of the girls as he said this. One of us asked him if he would help these girls if they come with some other problem, he said, “kyon nahi! Hame gaavwalon ne sarpanch banaya hain, kuch karne ke liye. Aur inke saath toh main jaroor kaam karunga!” (Why not! The villagers have made me a Sarpanch so that I can work for them. And I will definitely work with these girls.) 

The three girls with Ahilya's parents 


Our visit to Masturi, Eramsahi and Navagaon villages connected us to a rural India that is full of aspirations! But what delighted us more was the participation of girls in this entire process of aspirations getting developed! That they are getting a ‘Second Chance’ to complete their education doubles this delight. This program has made these girls more confident. They want their voice to be heard, their needs to be addressed and more importantly, their education to be continued!

If we visit Navagaon again, we hope to see these girls studying in the same school that they want to
be built in their village. And with the facilities going beyond the 12th Grade! This day in that small village in Chhattisgarh will be memorable for me for two reasons! One - I saw how education helps an individual, otherwise suppressed and under-confident, find an expression! And two - all three of them were girls who now have found their voice, amidst the rural Indian background that is still largely dominated by males.


-        


Thursday, December 8, 2016

“कमाल” ने किया आदतों में बदलाव

5:05:00 PM




 वर्तमान समय में बिहार के सभी डायट में प्रशिक्षु आज किसी ना किसी विद्यालय में शिक्षक है | इनके पास ज्ञान का भंडार है | कुछ नई चीजों को जानने के लिए उत्सुक तो कुछ प्रशिक्षण को भंग करने को तैयार | इन्हें प्रशिक्षण देने से पहले अपने आप को तैयार करना बहुत ही आवश्यक है क्योंकि ना जाने ये कब अपनी समस्याओं से भरे सवालों की बौछार कर दें  | जैसे – अपनी पुरानी पद्धति को छोड़ नई पद्धति का प्रयोग, कुर्सी पर बैठे रहना, छड़ी का प्रयोग आदि | अपने सवालों से इतना भटका देते हैं कि कभी-कभी मुद्दों को ही बदल देते हैं | कोई एक सवाल करता है तो उसके पीछे कई लोग खड़े हों जाते हैं |     

लेकिन कमाल के प्रशिक्षण के दूसरे दिन से लोग इसे समझने लगते हैं और कक्षा संचालन तक आते-आते ऐसा लगता है मानों वे अपनी आदतों को भूल गए है| “कमाल“ के प्रभावी प्रशिक्षण के बाद डायट के प्रशिक्षु अपनी पुरानी आदतों को से दूर बच्चों के बीच खड़े होकर कमाल के माध्यम से पढ़ाते हुए नजर आयें  | मैं सभी के बारे में तो ऐसा नहीं कह सकती पर, कुछ जगहों पर ऐसा देखने को मिला | इसलिए मैं कह सकती हूँ कि “कमाल” ने प्रशिक्षुओं को अपनी आदतों में बदलाव लाने के लिए किया प्रेरित | 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A library for all

3:27:00 PM
By Sachin, Laveena, Niraj, Rig, and Dr. Forsgren

Education, A library for all, learning

 This August, our CSR club at the American School of Bombay were able to visit not only one, but
two sites in one visit! It took place in Bandra east, where we visited 2 libraries not too far from
one another.

When we first arrived, as expected, the CSR group members were all shocked because of the
difference in their lifestyle, and the the lifestyle reflected by the area we were in. Tucked neatly
into the side of a building, as soon as we entered the library we were greeted by dozens of
smiling faces and a “Hello!” in unison. Immediately the trip became worth the time. When we
got the chance to sit down and hang around with the kids, they were excited to share the titles
of their favorite books and respond to questions about their future plans. Clearly they
understand the value of education to achieve their dreams. Pratham has established 20
“libraries” in this area according to representative Fazal Shaikh. Children can check out books
for two weeks at a time. Dr. Forsgren, our club mentor, was very impressed with how well one
of the young girls could read aloud her book. She was clearly proud of her abilities and
appreciated having an outsider support her understanding of the reading.

Laveena, an avid reader in our club was very impressed with what she saw. Seeing the children
in the library being so enthusiastic about reading was amazing, since she doesn’t see many
children being excited to read in my everyday life. It gave her a new perspective on how people
value things, as these children only have a chance to read at the libraries, and they love it, while
children in a more privileged situation often don’t take to reading since it is ‘old-fashioned’ or
‘boring’. After we concluded our visit to the first library, we said bye to our advanced readers
and moved on to the next site. This one was another secluded site that you wouldn’t expect to
be a fully functioning school. We climbed up a ladder and we walked in to our library/reading
camp. On the left hand side, we could see the kids who were in the reading camp - split up into
two sections. On one side, the kids were with the teacher and learning how to read words, and
on the other side, the kids were individually reading paragraphs and sentences on little cards
made by the teachers.

Education, A library for all, learning


It was around this time when we met Faizan. Faizan caught our eye when we were talking to
the paragraph readers, he was quietly sitting and smiling and letting his peers go on about their
favorite books and hobbies and future plans. When asked what they wanted to be when they
grew up, most kids responded with “Spider-man” or “police officer,” but Faizan surprised us
when he said he wanted to be an engineer! Immediately we knew that he recognized the
importance of his education and that it was imperative that he finished it so he could achieve
his dreams and give his family a better life. We were so delighted to hear about his aspirations,
at just the early age of 9! Faizan was such an interesting kid - he seemed like a 27 year old in the
body of a child! We were so surprised by his maturity when he was making fun of one of hs
peers who wanted to get married as soon as he finishes school. Faizan seemed like a very smart
kid and we hope that he will accomplish his dreams and give his family a better life. He was our
first guest on our facebook/instragram page, Humans of Pratham (@humansofpratham). We
will be updating the page with stories every week, and we hope you get to be even more in
touch with not just the beneficiaries of Pratham, but the teachers, the people behind the
scenes, and even the donors.

Education, A library for all, learning
Another highlight of the trip was our skype call with the students who run the Pratham Club at
the American School of the Hague - Victoria Puglia reached out to us and told us about all the
tireless campaigns they have started to raise funds for Pratham, which we hope to do similarly
at ASB in the near future. Victoria and her peers were super excited to see the impact they
were making in the lives of the future of India. The kids were just as excited to see them
virtually and gave the traditional “Hello!!” with big smiles and laughter and joy was returned
from the Hague. We were so happy to be able to connect the Netherlands to the projects in
India, because that is the founding idea of starting this CSR club. We want to be able to connect
the WORLD with what Pratham is doing, and we are doing it for people like YOU who are
reading this, so you can see how impactful and impressive the work Pratham is doing is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Adapting to the Digitalization wave - Anganwadi workers

12:33:00 PM
In 1975, Government of India launched the “Anganwadi” program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Until the last few years, all the recording and documentation for the program was done manually. Now after 40 years of successful service to the nation, Anganwadi workers are adapting to digital technology in order to meet the demand of managing and handling a large number of data and information.

Certificate Distribution Ceremony
One of our initiatives with Hewlett Packard (HP), which has its presence in 5 states through our 11 Community Based Centers, caters to people from underserved communities to become Digitally Literate. This program helps us to create tailor made courses as per the need and skill of our trainees. With our aim to make people digitally literate, our community based center in Panvel, Maharashtra has been providing crash courses to Anganwadi workers. This customized crash course focuses on the specific training need of these workers. Training duration could range from a few hours to a couple of weeks. Anganwadi workers primarily want to gain expertise in the usage of excel. Till now, we have trained 156 anganwadi workers. Talking about the impact of the course one of the Anganwadi workers said, 
“It is an awesome feeling, I had never touched a computer in my entire life prior joining this crash course. Learning computer was like a dream for me. As we have got computer exposure now, we can search information on the web and could learn about different government programs, plans, schemes and other related information which could be useful for the people we are working for.”

Anganwadi workers during the training in Classroom



In our Panvel center we also have different courses for Youth and Senior Citizen; we also operate special batches for Women and Students. We have Digital Sakshar Course (of 2 Months duration), Digital Sakshar Crash Course (1Month/ 3 Days), and various informative workshops (2-4 Hours). All these courses, in their own way, are contributing to a ‘Digital India’. 
As far as the Anganwadi workers are concerned they are an integral part of Indian public health care system. The main role and responsibility of these workers include providing basic health care information and services to Mother and Children such as contraceptive counseling and supply, nutrition education and supplementation, as well as pre-school activities. We are glad that we have played some role in their digitalization process. 

- Rakhi Mali 

Adapting to the Digitalization wave - Anganwadi workers

12:33:00 PM
In 1975, Government of India launched the “Anganwadi” program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Until the last few years, all the recording and documentation for the program was done manually. Now after 40 years of successful service to the nation, Anganwadi workers are adapting to digital technology in order to meet the demand of managing and handling a large number of data and information.





One of our initiatives with Hewlett Packard (HP), which has its presence in 5 states through our 11 Community Based Centers, caters to people from underserved communities to become Digitally Literate. This program helps us to create tailor made courses as per the need and skill of our trainees. With our aim to make people digitally literate, our community based center in Panvel, Maharashtra has been providing crash courses to Anganwadi workers. This customized crash course focuses on the specific training need of these workers. Training duration could range from a few hours to a couple of weeks. Anganwadi workers primarily want to gain expertise in the usage of excel. Till now, we have trained 156 anganwadi workers. Talking about the impact of the course one of the Anganwadi workers said “It is an awesome feeling, I had never touched a computer in my entire life prior joining this crash course. Learning computer was like a dream for me. As we have got computer exposure now, we can search information on the web and could learn about different government programs, plans, schemes and other related information which could be useful for the people we are working for.”




In our Panvel center we also have different courses for Youth and Senior Citizen; we also operate special batches for Women and Students. We have Digital Sakshar Course (of 2 Months duration), Digital Sakshar Crash Course (1Month/ 3 Days), and various informative workshops (2-4 Hours). All these courses, in their own way, are contributing to a ‘Digital India’. 
As far as the Anganwadi workers are concerned they are an integral part of Indian public health care system. The main role and responsibility of these workers include providing basic health care information and services to Mother and Children such as contraceptive counseling and supply, nutrition education and supplementation, as well as pre-school activities. We are glad that we have played some role in their digitalization process. 

- Rakhi Mali 

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