India – Week 5: Kids, kids and sponsored kids
Can you believe we have already been here for 5 weeks? Time is flying like crazy. Our ideas and insight to this organization and to this region keep growing and we both feel like time is running out and wonder how we will achieve everything we want to here…
Our week started with school photo day on Monday. We had bought a cheap Polaroid camera and some film online and had thought this would be a nice idea to connect with the school in this way.
We arranged an entire school group shot as well as class group photos and individual ones too. We made duplicates of the individual ones so 1 copy could stay in the classrooms for a project we would do later with the students, and they could take 1 copy home to their family to show them. As we were finishing taking photos, one of the students’ younger brothers turned up with a parent as news had spread to the next village and they wanted a family photo. Super cute! The kids and teachers were all incredibly thankful for the photos and excited to pose and see how they looked on the printed versions. This was definitely a highlight for us to see them all so engaged and we are looking forward to spending time with the students in the coming week to complete the self identity project we have begun with some of the school already.
Wednesday was Diwali – the festival of the light! We woke early to hear some faint firecrackers popping in the neighbouring village and this was just the beginning. The noise of the crackers continued all throughout the the day and night. Diwali is a holiday for the school, but a working day for the rest of the organization so we worked for most of the day in the office doing some admin work and training the staff in online data management as well as to improve their Excel skills. All meals that we had during the day were special with extra effort going into them and dessert being added to both lunch and dinner – as always, everything was really delicious! At sunset we went out for a short drive to see some more blackbuck (Indian antelope) that we had also seen again last week at sunrise, which was really really beautiful to see at sunset but also fun to see the antelope jumping around everywhere in the fields! As we found out after returning back to SEDS, our night of celebrations wasn’t complete as we still had to get some firecrackers. So after a short trip into Penukonda to a field with 2 tents set up selling allllll types of crackers, we eventually returned home ready for the real lights celebration. We enjoyed dinner all together before a few of us ventured down to the open space at the back of the SEDS HQ property to light up some crackers. The biggest surprise was that one of the resident dogs was acting the opposite to any other dog I’ve ever met around such loud noises. Instead of running away scared or hiding, he was instead barking and chasing the fire and the shooting sparks and jumping at them in a playful way! Super funny to see, but we felt it would be a risk to let him out for too long so to protect him from potentially having a cracker explode on him, we had to lock him up! Poor Fudge…
We learnt a lot from visiting several schools in the area on Thursday. We visited 6 schools that have some of the sponsored children attending to meet with the students and their principal. The purpose of the visits was to check in on their attendance, and to review the school structure and quality. Each school that we went to (high school or primary school) was completely different. Whether it be their presentation, the classrooms, the teacher style or the principal style. It was really interesting for us to be able to ask a lot of questions and get a better understanding into Indian government schools and the pros and cons of the educational system. We both came back feeling a mixture of confused, frustrated and impressed. Yet we also felt more passionate now to somehow assist some of these issues they are facing and to figure out the most effective way to do that. We handed out a few small gifts at schools such as educational posters and resources, and the students performed some English songs that they knew. So it was both fun and educational for us as well as enjoyable for the students!
Our busy week ended with the Second Saturday of the month which is when all of the sponsored children come to SEDS. We really enjoyed this in October and were excited to again be a part of this day. This time there were approx 170 out of 188 children who attended which was a LOT of children to engage, entertain and look after for 5 hours. Yet, we managed, and we really enjoyed ourselves playing many many games with them all in groups. We did a lot of dancing and clapping games in particular with the girls, as well as a lot of ball games, kabaddi and handstands. We also got to meet my sponsored child, Archana. She was very shy and nervous to speak with us at the start of the day, but by the end she was right by my side clapping along with the other girls. With sore cheeks from smiling and laughing all day and sore everything else from running around, we all collapsed for the afternoon and we were so exhausted.