Thursday, 7 April 2016

Morning stories

                                                                                                 - Preethy Rao (Teacher & Curriculum Support) At Gubbachi, every morning starts in a circle –teachers and students share and reconnect sitting in a circle. This is a time when we get a glimpse of the children’s lives and hear about the many real and make believe moments (sometimes hard to tell apart) that make up their eventful childhoods.
Here is a bagful of anecdotes that we have heard:
Time for sharing!
  • Shashikant was once married to a stone by his sister during play. Another time, attempts were made to marry Shashikant to a dog, but when it was time to tie the ‘tali’ the dog ran away (at the altar)! (Playing ‘marriage’ is common. ‘Marrying’ means tying a make believe ‘tali’ (mangalsutra) made out of any old string and a piece of turmeric tied to it.)  
  • Playing ‘house’ is also common. Cooking for the family, pregnant wives delivering babies and coming of age ceremonies (Dry runs of life that get enacted in great detail.)
  • In reality, Ratna’s family is waiting for their weekly payment which the contractor hasn’t paid and Nazia’s father came home drunk. Both families were on the edge that evening.
  • Kasim went to the ‘ooru santhe’ (village fair back home) and is now the proud owner of a blingy plastic mobile phone called ‘Dhoom Machale’, that belted out repetitive tunes .
  • When they were walking home Lakamma and Kavitha, saw, some men in a vehicle offering them, ‘sweets , trying to abduct’ them. They ran and ran.  Lakamma was so scared that she came down with fever that evening. (Fever is commonly cited as a logical outcome of fear and fear of abduction is strong.
  • A few friends climbed up trees to get at ripe guavas and chikoos from the “owners” trees. They were beaten up for it (said with chuckles).
  • Once Harish tried to climb the same tree but he fled - scared - when he thought that the tree was a ghost waving its hands in the wind (Middle Earth Ents in Lord of the Rings?)  The labour camp folklore goes that a ghost of a woman killed on the nearby railway track haunts the tree.  

Monday, 4 April 2016

Experiences of a learner-facilitator

                                                                                                                                          - Deyone (Centre Co-ordinator and Facilitator)  
           At GUBBACHI we are trying to learn and find solutions to issues of school dropouts among migrant children at Kodathi, a peri-urban area of Bangalore. The first question we had was why are children out of school? And during the survey before we started our centre, we realized that out of a multitude of reasons there were these  3 reasons which were immediate in the child's experience.
1.     Children need to stay back at home to take care of their younger sibling(significantly higher in case of an older girl child, though there were exceptions)
2.     Bad experiences during previous schooling stint.
3.     Fear of parents of their children getting abducted on the way to school 
         As an intervention we had to address these issues in order to bring children to the centre. The first step was to start a preschool centre, for the younger siblings of the school going children, adjacent to the main class room so that older children are at peace to engage in learning and not than taking care of the younger ones.
        We assured the children that they would be physically and emotionally respected. They didn’t believe in us in the beginning. Their experience at the centre is helping them trust adults better.  Now, there are moments at the centre when children just appear and take admissions by themselves and we have to go and find their homes/parents. Existing Gubbis and government school children are our biggest champions: our brand ambassadors.

       Next immediate point to tackle was the fear of the parents that their children may get abducted. Solution was to talk to the construction company and the community to make arrangements so that one person from the community brings the children to school and takes them back in the evening back. Inspite of of all our efforts we have lost one child to this fear...we have not been able to convince the parents of Rahul, an extremely bright boy, to send their precious child to us and we will take care of him as ours  
    One failure can't put us down. We have 57 children at the centre now... Our simple first steps to help children begin to experience the learning space.