Monday, August 5, 2019

The volunteers from Kabir Basti

1:28:00 PM


"We have learned many new things, and are ready to take more responsibilities", says Sanjana. She studies in the 9th grade and is one of the volunteers from Kabir Basti, a village in Kathura block of Haryana's Sonipat district. Sanjana's group includes Rajni (11th grade), Neha (9th grade), Shalu (11th grade), Sheetal (10th grade), Ritika(9th grade), Tamanna (9th grade) who belong to Gudda-A division of Kabir Basti, and Nikki (9th grade) and Jyoti (12th grade) hail from the Gudda-B division. These girls have volunteered for collecting the Village Report Card and also volunteer for Pratham's library program.  

From Left to Right - Rajni, Neha, Shalu, Sheetal, Ritika, Tamanna;
Back - Nikki and Jyoti


"We got an opportunity to visit our neighbouring village, and it was the first time we travelled out of our village. It was a wonderful experience", says Sheetal. These girls visited Ahulana -A and Ahulana- B villages for preparing the village report card and are cherishing the experience. 

"Talking to unknown people was fun", says Tamanna. Her sentiment is echoed by others who admit that this experience has taught them many new things. Most of these girls do not travel outside their village. The only time they are out of their house is when they go to school, and it is not very far from where they live. Hence, travelling outside their village was like an adventure and interacting with people not belonging to their village was an experience in itself. 

But the journey was full of difficulties. 

"Many villagers from Ahulana did not entertain us, and sometimes they shut the door on our face", recalls Nikki. "But we persisted", she says with pride. "Some families did not agree that their children cannot read simple text. They insisted that their children go to school, and hence they learn. But when we asked the children to read, they had to accept", says Ritika. 

It is clear that travelling to a new village and talking to people was an experience these girls loved, and they will value it for a long time ahead. But how has it changed them? We get a diverse response from the girls when we ask this question. 

"We have changed. This experience has made us bold and confident. We want to explore more villages now", says Neha. "I can feel a change in me. I can talk to people and express myself. Earlier I was shy", says Shalu. "We will talk to our parents and convince them to allow us to travel outside, and spread the message of learning", says Jyoti, the eldest of them all. 

This group of young volunteers is excited to work with us and hopes to create a difference in their village and the neighbouring villages by asking everyone in the community to contribute in improving the learning levels of children. 

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Monday, July 1, 2019

Trilochan's entrepreneurial dream

12:20:00 PM
Pratham's Vocational training centre at Mahule village in Odisha's Sonepur district offers training and placement to youths in the automotive sector. It is the only automotive centre in the region, and its infrastructure is provided by the Odisha Skill Development Authority, and the implementation is done by Pratham. The youths that enrol in this centre are from the economically disadvantaged background from Sonepur district, as well as neighbouring Boudh district. They generally belong to families who are involved in small-scale farming or daily-wage work. 



Trilochan Khandagiri joined this course because he wanted a job. He hails from Lupursingha village, district Sonepur. His family owns a small piece of land, where they grow rice. He studied till 9th grade, and later opted to help his family on the farm and also look for a job. "As a child, it was fascinating to see the work of a mechanic. It was my motivation", he says. So when Trilochan found out that there is a centre that trains you in a course, that was his liking, he wasted no time in thinking! He enrolled himself at the centre and liked all aspects of the course. 

"In farming, there is a lot of hard work, but the returns are less. But the same won't be the case in a garage. My family consists of my parents and an elder brother. If I have to take care of them, I have to earn a higher income", says Trilochan. "Moreover, people approach a person if he has skills."

The teaching at the centre as impressed Trilochan. He is happy about the personal attention, and also the patience of the instructors who answer all his questions, no matter how many times he asks them! He also likes the importance of maintaining a time-table, a concept which is very new to him! But his most favourite experience at the centre was learning English! "The centre has taught us how to operate a computer and how to communicate in English. I feel it is important because both things are needed in today's world", he says. 

Before starting a garage, Trilochan wants work but does not want to go outside Odisha. He is sure that his garage will flourish as there are few garages around, and with proper skills, he can solve the problem!  With his first salary, he wants to help his parents and home and buy a bike for himself. We wish Trilochan all the best! 

Monday, June 24, 2019

A dream to work in Rajasthan

1:18:00 PM
Sabyasachi Biswal hails from Dapala village in Odisha's Boudh district. His family practices farming at a very small scale, and they have involved themselves in rice cultivation. Sabyasachi always wanted to enter into a different occupation apart from farming. "I started a small shop in my village. But I did not get any returns. I had to close the shop", he says. However, his didi, a teacher from his classes informed him about Pratham Institute's vocational training centre in Mahule village, district Sonepur. This centre imparts training in the automotive vertical. "I was looking for a job, and it did not matter which course I was joining", he says.



"I was blank when I came here. In fact, I did not know anything about vehicles", he says. Sabyasachi admits that he did not have any idea about the course, and getting a job was his first priority. He thanks all his friends at the centre who helped him adjust and made him aware of the course. Apart from his friends, he also says thanks to his teachers for the disciplined nature of the course. "I like the silence and discipline here. I am experiencing it for the first time, and this is a new experience for me."

As we move ahead in the conversation, Sabyasachi mentions that apart from the practical training sessions, he also appreciates the theory which is taught at the centre. "The practical training is good, and it is required. But I love the way the conduct lectures. I love the 5 'S' of a personality which they taught us here - sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain", he says with a smile. As he narrates these five qualities, the teachers at the centre and his friends look at him with pride and happiness.

As we leave, we ask Sabyasachi what are his plans after he completes this course. He states that applying for a job would be his immediate priority, but not in Odisha. "I want to work in Rajasthan, as I have seen the culture of the state on television. And then when I get my first salary, I have to buy a few things. First of all, I will distribute sweets to everyone at the centre, and then buy a saree for my mother and a dhoti for my father. I also have a younger brother, and I will buy him anything that he asks for", he says. 

Sabyasachi wants to work in Rajasthan for a few years and then come back to Odisha and work in the automotive sector in his village. He will continue with farming, but will also earn an extra income from this job. We wish him all the best!



Monday, June 17, 2019

The dream to become a Manager

12:36:00 PM
Hiren hails from Jharkheda village, in Madhya Pradesh's Sehore district. He has completed education till 10th grade through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) with the support of Pratham's program for children with disabilities. We met him in Bhopal in 2017 when NIOS had organised a drawing competition, and Hiren was one of the participants.

Hiren


Hiren acquired polio when he was very young, and his future became a matter of concern for his family members. His parents work as daily wage labourers, and hence, the family has always faced the problem of earning a minimum income. Hiren tried to help them in his own capacity but nurtured a dream since a very young age. He wanted to become a manager. The idea of an office, a table and a chair always excited him. That was his idea of a manager.

Hiren attended the government school in his village and studied till 9th grade. However, in a tragic turn of events, his elder brother passed away, and Hiren had to bear the responsibility of the family. Unable to cope up with this pressure, Hiren failed in class, and lost confidence in further pursuing education. He remained out of school for the next five years until Pratham's team members approached him and his family and updated them about the program. He was assigned a home tutor facility, and Deshraj Ahirwar was appointed as his tutor. 

Deshraj Ahirwar


The partnership of Hiren and Deshraj was very productive and helpful for the former. Hiren not only enjoyed learning but also got back to drawing and painting, a hobby he had developed since childhood. Deshraj and the entire team of Pratham encouraged Hiren to draw and paint, and hence he could participate in the competition at Bhopal. His parents were also happy about the home tutor facility, as they believe that education will transform Hiren's life and eventually, the family's lifestyle.
As we appreciated Hiren's painting and asked him about his plans ahead, he reiterated his dream of becoming a manager. He passed the 10th-grade examination in 2018, and we are sure he will accomplish his goal one day. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

The tale of Sujata and Sarojini

12:49:00 PM
Sujata Padhi and Sarojini Mohanto are best friends and like to do things together. They travel to school together, study and play together, and now like to learn in a group. "There are many ways one can learn in a group, and it is not restricted to one group", says Sujata. "It allows us to explore more", adds Sarojini.



We are at Karadiha village in Karanjia block in Odisha's Mayurbhanj district. The two languages spoken in this village are Santhali and Olchi, and as the district has a tribal population, it is a challenge for them to learn in Odiya. However, thanks to the library program in the village and the learning camp in school, children in this village have found a new love for learning. Sujata says the group has also allowed them to develop leadership skills, and learning in groups is something that they have newly discovered, but now everyone is becoming used to it.

"The group allows us to explore each other. If one of us does not know anything, the others help us, and we help them if we know anything", says Sarojini. Both Sujata and Sarojini admit that they have become more interactive, and this is one change they observe in themselves. Sarojini further states that their mothers are a witness to it, and they also feel that their daughters have become more expressive and share a lot of things at home.

Sarojini, the more talkative of the two, smiles when we ask which are their favourite activities. "We like the games and activities, and also puzzles and Antakshari in English. We also enjoy the project work in science", she says. She further admits that language is not a 'problem' for them anymore. However, the difficulties in Math persist, and they are ready to work hard and learn more.

The newfound enthusiasm and interactive behaviour have translated into Sujata and Sarojini's interaction with their school teachers. The latter admit that children have become interactive and participate in the class with enthusiasm.

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