Dear Friend of U&I,
For this report instead of us sending you a write up about what we've been upto over the last 2 months, here is a newspaper article the appreared in on the Indian Express, 18th March 2013.
By Shefali Rao - BANGALORE I 18th May 2013 12:27 PM
Recently, when the SSLC results were announced, you might have spotted more than one elated face, or been witness to a steady stream of tears. But it wasn’t just the students who were on this roller-coaster of emotion - plenty of volunteers from city-based NGO, U&I (founded in January 2011), were just as affected by the exam’s outcome. After all, the organisation, which focuses on an all-round education among underprivileged communities, does have a team that works tirelessly throughout the year to make sure that they can level the playing field for these children. And come summer, you might think that they would take a much-deserved break - but in a heart-warming twist, that’s not the case.
“Most children have so much to do during the summer when they have time off from school and our children shouldn’t have to miss out on that. They come from orphanages, slums, have been rescued from human trafficking or might be mentally challenged. So we have summer camps in April-May for the children we teach,” explains Suchita Isaac, media head of U&I. Making sure they steer clear of mainstream education during these months, the dedicated team of volunteers do everything to ensure that the kids have a great time, all while pocketing useful skills that go beyond the classroom.
While centrally located in the heart of the city next to Ulsoor Lake, U&I has managed to make sure they make a difference across the city, with learning centres in Dairy Circle, KR Puram, Kammanahalli and Dickinson Road. These centres are usually located next to orphanages or government homes for children. In fact, this year, the group has even taken the concept beyond the confines of Bangalore - one camp is even making an impact in an orphanage in Chennai.
This year’s theme is Dazzle, with a tagline that says it all - “Let every child shine”. And shine they do, with the ample opportunities provided by the NGO. “While the rest of the year is purely academic, this is a chance for us to do something different. So this year, we’re focusing on personality development and we also have sessions on arts and crafts as well as music and games. Through all these activities, we teach them about honesty, sportsmanship and just instill a sense of self-confidence,” says Saahas Patil, centre manager, U&I.
A typical day at any of these camps across the city is dotted with plenty to do, from games which involve role play of famous personalities and making human knots, to creating paper bags or participating in a treasure hunt. “What’s amazing is that these volunteers get up at about 7 in the morning to prepare for the day. It’s their vacation too, and they’re choosing to spend it with the children. The best part is that everyone expects something like this to have an impact on just the children. But when you see how involved the volunteers become, and how much the children become a part of their lives, you realise that it’s incredible to see their lives become intertwined,” Isaac tells us. However, being chosen as one of U&I’s volunteer isn’t a walk-in-the-park. Every year, the organisation sees about 1,000 applications pouring in, with many colleges requiring an internship of this nature as part of their coursework. “We filter the applicants and only the really committed ones are chosen,” says Isaac. While enrolling only for one year might seem like the initial plan, a majority of the volunteers stick around for the next couple of years as well. Of the 40 odd volunteers this summer, about 20 worked during the last academic year. And come tomorrow, if you’re not putting on your running shoes to take part in the TCS World 10K run in Bangalore, make sure you push yourself out of bed anyway and head to the sidelines to cheer on those who do, for you will see 150 spirited volunteers running on behalf of U&I.
Dates for the applications for the academic year of 2013-2014 will soon be up on the group’s Facebook page. Details: facebook.com/uandi.org.in
Link to the article- http://newindianexpress.com/cities/bangalore/When-their-lives-got-entwined/2013/05/18/article1595454.eceentwined/2013/05/18/article1595454.ece
Hope you enjoyed that article. Fell free to mail me if you need any more info.
Thanks and Regards,
U&I Bi-monthly report Jan-Feb 2013
1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT
At U&I’S Educational projects- 1) Tuitions for the children at oasis took place from Monday to Friday at the Oasis Office located on Mosque road. With the intention and vision of being the change the volunteers at Oasis decided to take special tuitions for the 10th standard boys and girls to help them study and prepare for the board exams. These classes will continue until their exams and are held at the U&I office. 2) Hygiene awareness was brought to attention at the Girls Home this Thursday and Saturday. The volunteers engaged the students in discussions about health hygiene and shared various hygiene and health tips with them as well. 3) English and life skills classes were held at the Women’s home on Friday and Saturday by a group of 8 volunteers at Dairy Circle. 4) Tuitions were also held at 2 other projects around the city. English tuitions were conducted at Karunalaya on Saturday and Sunday. Tuitions in History, Economics and Political Science and other such Art subjects were held at Snehadeep on Monday and Wednesday.
2. VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT AND AMC :
Last week’s update for project management and Home for the Mentally Challenged.:
1) Research was conducted for the requirements of a Hospital Management software, to manage and track the daily activities and progress of the nurses and boys at the Home for the Mentally Challenged located at Diary Circle.
2) We are in the process of hiring maids to maintain high standards of hygiene and to help the boys in various activities. This week a few maids visited the home and were taken around and shown the working of the home.
3) A monthly review was done with the nurses to access the performance and the targets achieved by them
4) The Sunday volunteers of the government home met to discuss the schedule and activities to be followed at the home for the next month.
5) For effective management and better retention of volunteers, a feedback form was created and sent to the existing volunteers. The form will help us identify reasons for attrition.
3. VOLUNTEER STORY
Apart from educating and caring for 500 beautiful children, U&I also inspires people on a daily basis. Here is a heartfelt story written by one of the volunteers, Jacob, who has learnt and grown so much after joining U&I. Jacob teaches the boys at the Home for the Mentally Challenged at Diary Circle every Sunday and this is what he had to say:
Life at the Government Home
I got to know about the govt. home through a close friend of mine who I felt had undergone drastic changes in her life, for the better. I couldn’t help notice how passionately she talked about the home and so I attributed these changes to her work at the govt. home. Later my brother joined as a volunteer during the U&I summer camps but then decided it wasn’t enough and got involved full time. It was then that I was intrigued by the whole thing and decided to join as a volunteer myself.
My first day at the govt. home was pretty much what most volunteers felt entering such a place. A deep sense of sympathy for the boys and a strong sense of ‘savior complex’ (feeling that I can solve all their problems), obviously these sentiments were short lived. But I understood one solid fact, the way in which Bangalore projected itself to be just a highly successful IT hub was shattered by the reality of what I saw that day!!
I tried my best to keep going to the govt. home week after week even though most Sunday afternoons I had strong urges to continue sleepingJ I really couldn’t figure out what emotion I felt for these kids and my intentions for doing the things I did there. As time went by a boy called Prakasha developed a strong attachment towards me. He used to run to me when I entered, look around to dance with me during ‘tape time’ and cling to me while teaching. I had never given him any special attention nor gifts of any kind but he used to love me so unconditionally for just the way I was. It showed me a certain perspective that if such an underprivileged child can love like this, how much more should I. This is just one of the incidents with one boy, there are 86 more boys in the home that have opened each volunteer’s eyes in different ways that no educated or intellectual adult can.
I thank U&I for giving me the opportunity to make the lives of these boys a little better and to channelize my love in such a meaningful way. If I were to draw a graph of the values I have learnt in my life till now, this would definitely be one of the peaks. I have come to the realization that each and every boy in the home is as much a child of God as I am, so it is my Loving duty and privilege as a more blessed Child of God to be HIS hands in benevolence to these boys.
This is a boy named Deva K.. He is studying in the 10th standard in Radiant High School,Bangalore. He is also a very good athlete and has participated in the State level Athletics Meet in 8oo mts. event.He has been attending our U&I tutions since the last 3 months and has found a lot of improvementin his studies. He says he doesn’t understand much in his class but that doesn’t worry him becausehe believes U&I will help him out. Home science was a very difficult subject for him to tackle. But hesays ever since he started attending our classes he has improved immensely. He even tells me withan innocent smile that his entire class clapped and appreciated him when he got an answer right to aquestion asked to him in Home science class.When the volunteers are not well versed with the subjects they are teaching they do not neglect thetopic. Instead they talk to the other volunteers and get the student as much help as possible.Deva K. appreciates this fact a lot and is glad about his improvement in academics and life.
Report Dec-05, 2013.
Learning Centre- Oasis, Bangalore.
Reporter- Anisha Devakumar (Intern)
The children at Oasis brag about having a very full and busy schedule. They have subjects ranging from Math, English, and Kannada to subjects like Moral Science and Computers.
Their teachers have a soft copy of all the notes required and with the help of an LCD projector; the students are walked through the curriculum in an interesting and engaging manner. The teachers also include pictures and other aids to increase the student’s intake and retention of information.
They are let off at 12.00 PM for lunch and after the break their classes resume. The children speak of having a fantastic time in the teacher’s absence, but they have no complaints about any of the teachers. They talk about them very respectfully. They however do not engage in games of any sort, one child said with a sigh.
One of the things that excite them the most is that almost every day the children are taken to an upstairs room filled with computers. They’re asked to boot up the computer, write an assignment with the help of Microsoft Word, save it for correction by the teachers and then they’re asked to log off and continue with the day’s activities. This exposure to new technology will definitely open up doors for them in the future. The kids seem playful and serious about their education at the same time.
Classes Held- English, Tuitions, Computer training
Number of Volunteers- 78
Number of children- 105
Number of Boys- 75
Number of Girls- 30
Average Age- 14 years
Months of training completed (this academic year)- 5 months
For the last two years, U&I has endeavoured to partner with the staff at the State Home for Mentally Challenged boys to improve the level of care, hygiene and rehabilitation at this home. Over the next few years, we would like to continue this partnership and see the home grow into a world class rehabilitation facility. In the coming months we will be submitting an proposal to the Department of Women and Child Development to enter into a Private Public Partnership with U&I to take the work at the Home to a new level and work towards making it a facility where children will receive the best care.
We have attached a copy of our annual report of the work we have done in this home. Thank you for your support and for enabling us to carry out this work!
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