- Somya (Curriculum Support & Operations)
Unbelievable 4 months since we started the Learning Centre...and almost a year since we started to put the idea together. Literally, piece-by-piece, person-by-person, organisation-by-organisation!
It helped that we, as individuals in the founding team, had wet our toes in the space of education and development, in the past at various organisations, in various roles. And, mostly in the underserved space. We were already committed to the cause of the underserved and did not want to stand in the fringes and critique other efforts. We wanted to BE the effort.
It is magical how doors opened up for us at every step and guided us to take the first exploration, the first step, the first plunge, the first draft of our vision document, the first survey…the first child who trusted a casual interaction on the street to come to the centre with her brother and enrol herself even when we had not opened the centre formally. The many people who trusted our intentions and authentically guided us. The first donor who decided our effort was worth his hard-earned money and the subsequent stream of donors who had to ensure that there was always enough food, clothes and teaching/learning material in the centre.
We started the centre with 17 children from the neighbouring construction camps. These children were identified through our initial survey and discussion. In the first week , our community worker actually ferried the children in his scooter while another team member walked with a set of eager but cautious children.
As I write this down it already seems like a long journey covered…we do not need to convince the parents any more, our children do it for the parents of new children in the community. Our biggest brand ambassadors are Lakshmidevi and Radha.The same children who, in the beginning, came to school not for learning but to hoard material goods: all the toys that our donors had generously provided us with. These are the same children who now get bothered if the new children get distracted with the materials around and do not concentrate on the task at hand. The task, that they had either been denied or rudely taken away from, the task of learning!
We have a growing learner strength of 62 children across three labour camps ranging from ages 2 to 12. On any day, the 6-14 year olds work through Kannada, Math and English in three learning level groups. Our effort to enrich the experience of the children through an art program has been well received. When, earlier, we could not get the children to draw anything other than a national flag/a house with mountains in the backdrop, we actually experience some children making an effort at just trying art for the sake of art without any explicit picture to be copied. A HUGE baby step win for us.
Communities have received our health initiatives very well and look forward to the next camp. For us a single individual touched and made a difference to means one baby step towards success every mother of a Nagendra (and 4 more), who has been enabled back into the workforce through timely intervention is a success story worth sharing.
The first plunge is always the one packed with fear, apprehension and self doubts. A bit like what a Gubbachi felt on its first flight perhaps! . . But once soaring, the view is only exciting, full of the small stories and an endless horizon of possibilities backed by the wind under our wings – the many donors, mentors, guides and friends. The journey has just begun and we are excited…