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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Beginning - July 2011

Well, finally the year has started at Adharshila.

All the rooms cleaned, most things placed in their places. Teachers know where to go when and the children too. How fast they adapt to a system, poor chaps. We have started knowing them a little, which ones come near and the ones who change course on seeing elders.

Initially we were sceptical about the number of children. Though 35 parents got there children registered in the meeting for new admissions, they did'nt turn up till one week. It was getting late and late. The monsoon was just not coming, just strong winds. People here, first think about the farm and then the children. As they have to take credit for both the ventures and of course the farm is more important. As the there was no sight of the monsoon the money lenders had stopped giving credit to the farmers not even after keeping silver. Every year at this time we think about good, free education for the poorest section of the people but stop short, thinking of fund raising as we are not into the institutional funding mode and rely on friends for support.

With no kids and no rains around we started dissecting the whole project of education, schooling and the uselessness and all the negatives and started wondering what we were doing here.

Eventually the rains came and the children too and ended all the conversations and rubbished all theories. About forty new faces, mostly boys though. Now we are around 80, twenty short of last year. Most of them are below 12 -13 years. Two have come to study for the 10th open school exam and help in the school.

Our house too, now has a semblance of order. The rats have come down to a tolerable number. The plumbing line damaged due the uprooting of a tree near our water tank has finally been repaired and we have water in the one and only kitchen tap. Removing the tree was a very arduous task requiring hard labour of senior boys for almost six hours, done over two three days.

There is electricity, touch wood. It can come and go in a snap - very erratic like the rains this year. Actually this time of the year the demand for electricity is very less but the excuse for not coming are lightening and strong winds which damage the long wires and transformers. Valid excuse they say but we shell out for the burnt out laptop chargers and inverters. (inverter blown twice and one laptop charger gone in the past 15 days, we don’t count the mobile chargers as they are just 80 bucks).

But all this was not as easy as writing this paragraph. It took us and everybody here about two weeks and still we are on our toes. But the great thing is that we can do our own plumbing, and electricity repairs, and battery maintenance, in- house.

The children have been divided in three groups. Those who don’t recognize the alphabets and numbers, those who know all this, a little and the elder ones who have been here. There are two elder boys 8th pass and 9th fail, are training to help small children and about organic farming and whatever else goes on here. For starters most of the time is taken by singing and playing and vocal exercises and exploring the campus and surroundings. The main themes are rain, farming and water. So we have on the menu lot of songs, folk mostly, and exercises with water – words related to water and rain, why does water rise in a brick, which one is faster, sounds produced by water, how many drops of water my bottle can take… it will go on for almost twenty days.

And yes, we have set up our music room with two each of harmoniums, tablas, guitar and a small casio and dholak. Only thing lacking is a teacher. Please forward this to aspiring volunteers. Four children have started on the tabla and violin.

The best news at the end – Jayashree’s new venture this year is the poultry, so we have acquired three hens and cock which is crowing right now. This is being taken care of by Abhishek who went to an exposure visit to Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, to learn from the work of ANTHRA, an NGO.

Second, Majli a girl from the first batch of Adharshila has done us proud by helping Manish, in starting a new school in a very remote village with no electricity and road. The community had run a school for two years with our help but it had stopped. This year it’s on, again. Let’s see if Majli can take it forward. There are around 40 children there. She needs all support from all of us and friends.

Manish, will also be helping at Adharshila this year, while seeing the new school with Majli.

And thanks to Adam (a student of Environmental Science, Toronto, Canada) and Nihal (engineering student from Bangalore, India), who visited for a few days, for the pictures.

Bye for now. Hope to connect again soon.