Tuesday, 17 May 2016

One Person at a Time

       Our existing children often drive enrolments at Gubbachi. One fine day two new Marathi-speaking children (Naga & Ari*), walked into the center along with our other children. A piece of paper with the father’s number helped us locate the family, where we discovered three more children; 12, 4 and 2 year old. 
       The mother was limited in her movement due to a fall from the second floor of a construction site at Karwar. The oldest (Ravi) was the care-giver of the family. It was of prime importance for us get him to school. But, the condition at home didn’t allow that to happen. Unless the mother gets on her feet, the kid will not be able to come to school. And this was time for us to connect with the boundary partners. 
       One of our team members reached to her old friend Roopa, who used to work with Mobility India (MI). Roopa, immediately put us across to Mr. Ghosh, MI. Meantime, we were in constant conversion with the family about the need for treatment and importance of education for Ravi. Without wasting much time and not bothering as to who will fund the treatment, we were there at MI. On examination, it was found that, there was some dislocation. It was advised that she wear a belt along her hip and undergo physiotherapy for the next 10 days. On request, MI gave us discount on the consultation charges, belt and physiotherapy charges. But, this was not the end. For the next 10 days, they needed to reach J P Nagar from Kodathi, Sarjapur Road. This means, they would lose 10 days wage. It was a difficult decision for a person who is dependent on daily wages. They got convinced that the treatment will make a difference and they took a brave decision. We could see the result in first 4-5 days itself. And, by end of 20 days, there was a huge difference and she was able to walk without any support. 
      With the mother slowly taking up household chores, Ravi also started engaging with us. The mother is now an employed construction worker while Ravi, Naga and Ari are happily instructing their friends in Kannada… “Oota ke javo” comes naturally to them.
        We hope we are able to continue making connections …with all who are interested in making it a better world for every single individual…one person at a time.
Thanks again to Roopa, for referring us to MI. She made sure she came personally and introduced us to Mr. Ghosh. Of course, thanks to the MI team! They were the real change makers.
* names changed

Imagine This

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 - Mani (Early Child Care & Curriculum Support)

The following is a story created by Ambu...a child we lost to relocation, a child who pushed us to think alternately....

There was a tree. An ice-cream tree! 
On it sat a leopard eating ice-creams. Next to that tree was another tree. A chocolate tree... 
Not any chocolate, but a butter chocolate tree. 
On this tree sat a dog. Along came a boy. He was on his way somewhere. 
The leopard decided to join him. He got down from the tree and sat on the boy’s head. 
The dog climbed down his tree and sat on the leopard’s head. The boy walked on with the leopard and the dog on his head. On their way they saw a cow. She wanted to join them and sat on the dog’s head. 
The boy realised it was getting too late so he started running. As he ran the animals fell off one by one.  First the cow, then the dog and finally the leopard. 
The boy continued on his way.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Musings of a Volunteer

                                                                                                                                                                                                          - Narayan Mandyam (Volunteer)  
          I was in between jobs and had a clear few weeks before my new assignment. I had pottered about for a week at home, when I got a call from my dear friend Mani, who is a part of ‘Gubbachi’ team. She wanted me to ‘volunteer’ for a Summer Camp with the Government School in Kodathi. The Summer Camp for the Government School children was anchored by the Gubbachi team. I had no idea what ‘volunteering’ meant here, but I thought that this would be better than reading books at home!
       My volunteering was scheduled for 4 days, between May 3 to May 6. Given my years of corporate servitude background, off I went with my laptop bag on Day 1 to meet my “boss” Somya. I cannot recollect, but I might have even asked Somya for a ‘Job Description’ of a volunteer. In my corporate experience, I like to be prepared and avoid surprises. I would later learn that surprises are a part of a daily life in Gubbachi.
         I reached a bit early on that date and met Deyone, Preethy, Nomita, Rizwan and Somya; and some of the facilitators. I understood that the summer camp was being conducted for about forty children spread over two classes. Both the classes had two sessions, each, with a snack break fit in between.  
           I started spending time with the children and fancied that I was pretty liked by them. The penny dropped on day 2, after I realized that the only charm I had with the kids was my “Olympus” point and shoot camera. They loved being photographed.  Who knows, maybe there is an actor or a photographer hidden amongst them!
         Over the four days, I met some fantastic facilitators, who had taken time off to teach the children. From a 16 year young Rohit Rao to experienced teachers like Nomita, Supriya, Samvartika and Harshita; each of the facilitator was trying to engage the high energy kids in multiple ways.
The summer camp was very actively attended by the children who did several fun activities, interspersed with learning activities as well. Younger children loved the clay workshops, art work and sports. The older children worked on colours, word ‘Bingo’ and basic English prepositions. What were commonly adored by both the classes were the drawing and storytelling sessions.  The children made personal connections with some of the facilitators and wondered when the facilitators would return.  During my observations, I also realized that some of the children from the Government School, were behind the learning curve, as compared to other schools. With all the investment that everyone is making, hopefully this should turn around.
          Did you ask what I was really doing at the school? Apart from eating the yummy buns during the snack break, I realized that there was a completely different universe, outside of spreadsheets and cubicles. It was amazing to see the children being completely trusting and how they could bond with someone whom they had met only for a few hours. I also realized that handling twenty extremely boisterous children requires tremendous patience. Teachers around the world – please take a bow.

Thank you Gubbachi team for giving me an opportunity to be a part of your efforts.

I am hoping to return to the summer camp before my new innings in a corporate booth. 

Our Preparedness

                                                                                                                         - Deyone (Centre Co-ordinator and Facilitator)  
Most children at GUBBACHI are unschooled or schooled sporadically. We seem to have sorted out the problem of generating a need in the children to come and engage in the learning experience. A lot of thought and planning goes into the whys, hows and whats of facilitating literacy and numeracy. It is evolving. The core guiding principle of GUBBACHI (every child is unique and is valued), makes this process of evolving curriculum a constant in our lives.
Most children are able to sit and listen to instructions of the facilitators and respond to it positively; if we can say, they conform to our curriculum and lesson plans. But there are also those children who don’t see any meaning in the activity of “learning” as we define it. These are the children who are at the risk of dropping out of the bridge program...possibly out of education for life.
We soon identified some of the demons that the children are fighting:
-                   some are unable or hesitant to express themselves because of lack of vocabulary or fear of failure or not being accepted.  
-                   some have under-developed fine motor skills; hence they are not able to hold the pencil or pen and write as other children of their age.
-                   And some children are not finding the pedagogy and content interesting enough to learn.
         Having zeroed in on the problem we decided to get cracking
         We now have a bridge to the bridge. 
         We have an initial 3 week program for children when they join the centre. It has mainly three parts: expressing oneself, introduction to numeracy and building vocabulary and phonemic awareness.
Expressing oneself: Children are given opportunities to communicate with adults and peers around them in a non-threatening way. For example, they are asked to sketch whatever they like for an hour. Most of them use one or twoA4 sized paper per session. Once done with their sketching they sit in a circle and share what they have drawn with the facilitator and peers. In the first week it is free drawing.  Later they are asked to draw about their day or home or their daily walk to school. Not judging the children for the drawing gives them a feeling of being accepted as they are and their expressions. At the end of 3rd week children who were not ready to talk, open up and start sharing their drawings ...and experiences.
 Numeracy: Our numeracy session are very simple. We sit near the school gate and count the number of vehicles passing by. Students learn to count till 10 and then we again start from 1. We count the number of leaves on the plants. Realise it is a lot. We see patterns in leaves and walk in straight lines and become conscious of the ‘right side’ and ‘left side’ while exploring the campus.
Building vocabulary and phonemic awareness: We follow the noun awareness route. Children name the things around them. For many children it is a new idea to split one word into separate sounds and for some others surprising to realise that a sentence is made up of separate words and not a single piece of long word with some tune.
       We are gaining confidence in our beliefs as more and more children begin to decode alphabets into sounds and then words and then some meaning…a meaning that might overlap with what others also understand … but often unique to them. We are also gaining confidence that if we stay true to compassion more simple solutions will emerge for a complex problems.