Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Gubbi Makala Habba 2017

                       - Somya (Curriculum Support & Operations)
I can do ANYTHING!
Children’s Day is special. It’s special because children are special. Every single one of them. At Gubbachi, making children feel special is a way of life. They are the centre of our universe and all our actions. But, let me not digress. This post is not about our philosophy on childhood, learning, teaching and such. It is about conspiracy. Universal conspiracy that makes things happen for us at Gubbachi.
Our very own "Chacha Nehru"
A few weeks before Children’s Day I tabled the idea that we do a Habba - this year. This was our usual daily lunch discussion time. I saw some excitement but mostly, “what now?” kind of looks. I had no idea what we should be doing. But did not want a – ‘photo-op only’ moment for any organisation. Did not want the children to feel patronised, the opportunity to gain from; but to be the focus. Wanted them to have fun. Fun at the bridge centres and the host government schools- definitely together. And I wanted the teachers to be the cause of the fun. Last year, we had done various things at the bridge centres including taking some of our older children to Kathavana and encouraging them to choose and buy books (with a small pocket money provided by us).
Let's do it together
In our morning stand-up meetings I started nudging the teachers to come up with ideas. Many ideas were put forth but nothing closed. The D-day started drawing closer. I started to panic … somewhat. I wasn’t really doing anything about tabling the idea to the universe - we circulated a whatsapp message calling out for volunteers and donors. We had barely sent in the messages that we started receiving mighty positive responses.
The sweet treats!
Two home-bakers thought it was a wonderful idea to make cupcakes for all the children. All of 210+ children?! We were overwhelmed. People we did not know started donating small and big amounts towards the cost of material and the works. Local governance representatives took up the cost of Shamiana and such. Volunteers started pitching in with their time and effort. We did our huddles to think through Habba stalls. Mani wrote us a script from the fantastic children’s book “Catch the Crocodile”. Teachers were practicing.
SwaTantra at Kodathi
The teachers designed the activities, the space, manned the activities, guided our volunteers, participated in the skit, gave the children unconditional love and care, ensured every child is made to feel special. We are extremely proud of our team and the team work. We were on a roll.
But, what’s a Habba without a mega dose of music and performance. We reached out to SwaTantra and to Pramod for music at the two centers. We also reached out to Himanshu to give our children (and us) a taste of juggling. The children loved the music and the juggling. We were not mere consumers but creators and participants. We were teary-eyed. (These experiences warrant a blog post in their own right).
Pramod creating music with the children
at Sulikunte
We had achieved what we had set out to. Happy, excited children!!!!  
 It would have been just an idea if not for the wonderful set of volunteers who took the time out of their busy schedules to pitch in. Standing ovation to Arpita, Roopali, Beena, Shilpa, Shalini, Abha, Sindhu, Radhika, Vasundhara, Subhasini, Reema, Sapna, Priya, Jayanthi, Meenakshi, Geetha and the team headed by Sapna from Confident Bellatrix. I am sure I have missed a few. People just dropped in to volunteer…A big THANK YOU to the many anonymous volunteers!
Some fun getting painted!
What is a children’s event without an ample dose of sweets! Thank you Marzia and Garima for the cakes and cupcakes.
And, to all the donors who have relentless faith in our work and us. Especially to the ones who earmarked funds only for Children’s day! Thank you Shalini, Neha, Rohit and Arpita.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

My Acquaintance with Gubbachi

                                                         -Arpita Bhattacharjee (Gubbachi Volunteer)

About 3 months back, in September 2017, I started my volunteering journey with Gubbachi Learning Community (Gubbachi). I decided to teach Data Entry Operations to a thirteen year old boy who belongs to a migrant worker's family from Bihar. I was told he had started learning English about eight months back and initially I was skeptical whether he will be able to understand the complex terms and concepts of Computer Studies.  But looking at the work that Gubbachi has been doing for the past couple of years, I thought I must give this a shot.
Learning together is always fun
The first day I met this boy, he greeted me with a wide welcoming smile. His body language told me he has a lot of positive energy and the passion to learn. That’s all I needed as a tutor - the will to learn.
Within the first couple of weeks he amazed me with his ability to learn technical concepts very fast. Though I have to often work on his retention and memorizing capabilities, but nonetheless I have to applaud his efforts and learning abilities. Our class takes places at a corner table in a room which is shared by other younger kids for their afternoon activities and games. Though the room gets noisy sometimes, but my student and I are so focused on our work that we rarely get distracted.
In about ten or twelve classes, he has picked up the basics of Computer and has started working on Word Processing software. I feel this is quite an achievement. I am happy to make a small difference in the life of this smart boy who without the intervention of Gubbachi would perhaps have been lost in oblivion.
"Can I Beat my own score"

On Nov 14th I participated in the Children’s Day celebration. The day was filled with various games, activities, music and food and the children of Gubbachi and the Government School, Kodathi (where the first centre of Gubbachi is located) had a lot fun. I could also meet and connect with other volunteers who were there to support. What struck me was the care and affection with which all the kids were handled. The kids hugged their teachers and though everything was getting done in a very disciplined and orderly manner, there was no need of any rebuke or harsh words. What prevailed was absolute harmony, smiles, joy, fun, love and affection. I am sure this is not a school where there are dropouts or absentees but a school where every student waits to come, have fun, and learn.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Series: Stories untold! - Story #2

-Adity Roy (Writer Volunteer)

Vijay Kumar.

13 year old Vijay Kumar is the eldest of four siblings. The son of a migrant laborer, Vijay moved to Bangalore with his family two years ago for better opportunities. Vijay’s father, Ashish Mahato made a choice. He decided to stay on in the city and provide a better life for his family than move back to his hometown Samastipur, in Bihar, when his first painting contract in the city was over.

Samastipur is one of the districts in India with a high male-out migration.

And that perhaps decision is what changed the fortunes for his son Vijay. That and Gubbachi who took him under their fold. You will be quite taken aback with the fluency with which he speaks the English language and the sincerity with which he does his school work- whether it is arithmetic, languages or environmental science. He his well-behaved mannered and his smile- a complete winner!

One of the founder members of Gubbachi says, “Vijay is a natural learner, we are there only to facilitate his learning. He absorbs a lot on his own and goes deeper questioning ideas at various levels, and their relevance to society and impact on the environment”. She goes on to explain that in a lesson on water, Vijay questioned the relevance of the burden city life creates on natural resources like water, and how if more people found contentment and livelihoods in rural areas, the cities would be less burdened.

A typical day for Vijay begins with waking up, filing up water for the day, getting ready for school, then getting all his younger siblings ready and finally trotting the 10 minute walk to the nearby government school where Gubbachi runs a centre. In the evening, he completes his homework and then helps his siblings with theirs and is in time to catch his favourite serial on the telly, Balbir and Rani Pari. He likes life here better than his hometown, but is nostalgic. “We have a TV at the rented place we stay at and better food too, but I miss my cousins and uncles at the village. But when summer holidays come, it’s such fun right from the time we board the train to when we reach home and meet all our family. Sometimes there is no place to sit but the excitement of going back home makes all that an adventure”.

He’s sure he wants to study “lots” - just doesn’t know how much that is. But is sure he does not want a hard life as his painter father. His mother Rohini is a cook in the nearby apartment. He wants to be able to give his parents and his siblings a better life someday and he believes that his education is going to take him there.

Series : Stroies Untold! Story #1


She’s got a winsome smile and her neat little pigtails outline her face where the eyes take in everything about you. That’s Prema for you, an exuberant and bright fifth standard kid that Gubbachi has taken under their fold.

Every little child here at Gubbachi has an incredible story waiting to be told.

Orphaned at a very young age, the youngest of four siblings, Prema lived with her maternal grandmother at Yadgiri, one of the most backward districts of Karnataka, till six months ago. When her grandmother passed away, homeless and hungry her elder brother decided to move to Bengaluru with her elder sister hoping to find a job as a construction laborer in the ever-booming construction city. One of the sisters remained at Yadgiri working as a flower girl and fending for herself.

“I used to go to a government school in Yadgiri; but I had to stop when my brother couldn’t afford to even buy my books or uniform. We had a small shop at Yadgiri where we sold biscuits, chocolates and such stuff. When my schooling stopped I used to keep practicing my reading by reading the wrappers of biscuits and chocolates. However, we had to shut shop as it was not sustainable and moved to Bengaluru”.

Prema joined Gubbachi six months ago and has been bridged into the adjoining government school successfully. Her fears remain that one day when the construction site is completed she will be moved again. Her elder sister works with the maintenance team of a completed building and she even gets to stay in a shed close to the school.

At the moment, the security of a roof above her head, however temporary it may be, a school to come to where the world is a journey in discovery for her; friends she plays with forgetting all her insecurities; and the Gubbachi team who encourage and instill confidence in her, allows her to dream big. “I want to be able to study forever, go to college and then someday become a doctor” says she.

The incredible thirst for knowledge and the understanding that education is a game changer, has perhaps allowed children like Prema to nurse dreams.