Thanks to everyone’s support, despite covid, we have been able to make some progress. Keeping the covid protocol in place, eleven students are at the centre. There is no school to go to, but there is an able team of facilitators and care givers, from Abhimanyu, Mithun, Sangeeta and Shankar ji, who have been available full time at the centre, to Subhash and kamayani, who come in for helping at specific hours in learning exercises. In addition there are volunteers who drop in and help, recently we had Tanmay and Sultan Bhai spend time with the children. You can see Sultan Bhai in this action video* with the children and read about ART classes at the jeevanshala, facilitated by Tanmay, here.**
A TYPICAL DAY AT THE JEEVANSHALA
The children, 7 girls and 4 boys in the ages of 10 and 12, are staying full time at the centre. Their day starts with morning exercises and dhyaan, followed by cleaning of their rooms and shram daan (which includes cleaning the centre grounds, watering plants and trees, preparing mud for walls etc.). After a healthy but light breakfast of choora, moorhi, ankurit (sprouted) or cooked chana, the children sit for their first formal lesson for the day. This is the hindi class, facilitated by Abhimanyu. In this class they read a short story and then summarize it on their own words, enhancing their grasp on the language and improving their imagination. Based upon this summary, the discussion opens up on grammar and usage of hindi language. In parallel to this children also have their baths and put out their clothes to dry.
Soon after Subhash ji and Mithun, take on children in two separate batches. Subhash ji focuses on Maths and Science learning, based on syllabus and text books. Mithun is trying to ensure that all children develop basic computer literacy, and get over their fear of this device. Four computers are installed with games for children. Some of the older children are learning to type, also strengthening their grasp of the English alphabet and language.
COMUTER MASTI WITH MITHUN BHAIYA
The afternoon break is more of a break for the adults, the children eat and just sit around the tiny carom board they have or run around with their small football, if its not too hot.
LEARNING ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE
Children are learning English as a second language and it is a rigorous two hours, full of physical activity, games and fun, as also doing hand outs and work sheets. So far the children have scripted a play with the characters in a family (mother, grandmother, father, grandfather, brother, sister and others). The script of the play as played by the children was written down by Mithun and can be read here.*** 11 children came to us one month ago of which 7 could read upto three letter words. However, they did not know the meaning of the words. Some of them despite being able to read English, said “Hamen angrezi nahi aati” (We don’t know English). And I remember one of the parents being there when the kids did the play with two introductory lines “I am P. I am the ‘mother’ in this play.” And one of the parents who happened to be there watching said “Ab P bhi angrezi bolne laga”. The sense of pride was evident. There was one more interesting development, while learning the English alphabets phonetically, we realized some or in fact most of the stories were very alienating like the one about “Jack” and “Jelly” in the “refrigerator”. For children from villages in North Bihar, this story made no sense, so we asked the children if they want to make their own videos, they agreed and in the last week we have made videos for alphabets J,K,L,M,N,P,R and S, which can be found here.**** We also watched some videos, two of these were especially beautiful, telling the story of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. You can see these here and here.******
OUTDOORS AT THE JEEVANSHALA
After a hectic day, the children spend their energies on the field, playing games like kho-kho, dodge ball and kabbadi. Sports like kabaddi and kho kho enhance their team work and also create a favorable environment for girls and boys playing together. Sports like these also help girls in getting over their inhibitions and shame around the body, drilled into them from an early age, encouraging them to discover and display their strength.
After this there is a short meeting to discuss the day long activities, any issues or problems. There is also a self study period assimilating the days work and completing tasks they have been given through the day, ably guided by Sangeeta and Mithun.
MARKING SPECIAL DAYS THROUGH THE MONTH
This month also gave us a lot of opportunity to talk about other things, we celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti on 14th April, talking about Dr. Ambedkar’s childhood, when he was like our little children at the centre. His zeal for education and his commitment to the upliftment of the downtrodden and highlighting the problem of caste was talked about.
We also discussed the idea behind the month of Ramzan, and the festivities of Eid that follow. Abu Sufiyan who is fasting, came to the centre to talk to the children and then we all shared iftari together.
This month (1st May) started with the children understanding why May Day is celebrated. We watched a video shot by village children and also sang the famous song – “Workers United Will Never be Defeated”. Video of the village children can be seen here.
We are looking forward to send you more interesting updates in the coming months.
Here is a small write up from tanmay and Mithun, facilitators in the English class
So we started with a bowl of chits with 10 person names, 10 animals, 10 places and 10 things (total 40 chits). In the first round, children had to go around greeting each other. It looked a bit like this:
“Hello, what is your name?”
“My name is stick” or my name is Katihar or My name is book” or my name is kamayani or My name is jackal.
4 corners of the classroom were marked with name, place, animal, thing. And students had to run to the corner that they thought their new name came under. (So dog would go to animal, kamayani would go to person, bombay to place and so on). We repeated this 3 times. Each time, answers were discussed and those who had gotten it wrong could move over to the correct corner.
Next we did an excerCise –where we listed all the pronouns we could remember. Turned out we remembered only the subject pronouns….but many needed reminding of that also.
We went around the room and expressed what pronouns we would like used for ourselves. We talked about the importance of respecting the choice of someone’s pronoun. Sagar chose to be referred to as she..and we practised using she for sagar. We also said that sagar can change pronouns at anytime and there would be no judgement.
We tried using pronouns in a sentence, talking abt our classmates and people we knew.
While it started with us asking: “How is abhimanyu? Is he fine?
It quickly changed to kids teasing each other saying.. you are a dog. You are a goat (referring back to our first game)
Or we are lions. :P.
Tannu and rani said things like.. I am strong. We are happy.
* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrLrjEJ7aSM Fun with Sultan Bhai
**Art Classes at the jeevanshala https://mbsns.org/2021/05/07/art-classes-at-the-jeevanshala/
*** https://mbsns.org/2021/05/06/family/ a play scripted by the jeevanshala children (The story of a Daughter).
**** https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8N8HMdu7KALKBtoGeiOmFw?app=desktop Our videos – learning English phonetically.
***** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFxvTTaSBRc Mazdoor diwas video