Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More about our Newest Project

At the school for children living in slum areas, the work has been a bit slow, since we have several obstacles to overcome before our children can start learning at a rapid rate. At the moment, because the school is in the beginning stages, many of the children have been arriving irregularly and tardy, which drastically limits our rate of progress: We must work on punctuality to help discipline the children. After reviewing our budget, we have decided to implement a program to encourage the children to arrive on time: We will award the children who arrive before classes begin with a small candy, a rare treat for these deprived children. Our volunteers have not been to the school since its opening, but starting tomorrow the volunteers will work at the school, now that the children are a little more accustomed to using pencils and doing the activities requested by our teacher, Neetu (who is shown holding a child in the first picture). We feel that the volunteers' presence will have such a great impact on the children: while the children focus on learning very basic techniques with writing, the volunteers will practice songs with the children so that they can start learning the alphabet and counting. Neetu is also teaching the children the Hindi alphabet system, known as "devanagari," or "ka kha ga" (which is comparable to "ABCs" in English). 

Neetu is actually a local teacher, having grown up in the very same neighborhood as the children! She is very studious and self-motivated, and she is pursuing a degree by correspondence right now. In the mean time, this job will help her earn while she honorably helps our students gain an education. Though her English communication skills are somewhat limited, she will be able to communicate enough with the volunteers to work together. One common theme in our children's behavior is a lack of discipline. We would like to be able to afford uniforms for the children, to help foster a sense of discipline and professionalism in the children, but the funding is simply unavailable. One complete set for the uniforms per year would cost 1,000 Rupees per child, about $22 USD, or for the entire school of twenty children, about 20,000 Rupees, or $440 USD per year. Considering what we do provide the children, however, we still feel that there is much room for improvement, once we have all of the funding necessary to support our cause. With our current budget, we can only provide one banana per day per child, but ideally we would like to provide a nutritiously balanced meal rather than a small snack. Let's see how the work with the volunteers goes tomorrow!

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