Its very exciting to bring you news about the work happening in the U&I Teach program over the past few months. We have had a very fulfilling teaching season in all our Learning Centres and are looking to end this academic year with many success stories of well-deserved rewards for our students and their teachers (our volunteers)
Our volunteers are the grass-root champions of our work and I know you will love hearing from them directly. Nandita has volunteered with U&I for the past year at the Muslim Orphanage, one of our Learning Centres. It is her proactive enthusiasm, creativity and love for the children she teaches that shows brilliantly as she now leads a team of volunteers teaching English. Here is her story:
Testimonial by Nandita
My name is Nandita and my approach to life has changed immensely since I started working with U&I during Summer Camps 2013. I volunteer as a Class Head at the English Learning Centre:Muslim Orphanage. Let me start by saying that Muslim Orphanage is unlike any Learning Centre you’ll ever go to. No matter how much preparation or planning is done, every weekend is a bit of an improv session - there will always be kids to chase, new rhymes to sing, etc. Having said that, this Learning Centre has been an absolute joy to work at. Its true that it gets overwhelming and exhausting at times, especially around 4:15 on a lazy Sunday afternoon where the kids who aren’t falling asleep are throwing hula hoops from the 3rd floor. But when I look back, there are so many things I take back from having volunteered here. I remember this one class with 9th and 10th grade girls; they were having a story-building competition where they were divided into groups and given 5 different words that they were to use through the course of their story. It was great to see the normally shy and quiet girls open up and speak about their dreams for their lives. But there was this one girl, who kept chiding her friend for revealing her dreams and cynically remarked that these things were too far-fetched to ever come true. In my conversation with her, I asked her if it would be so bad if she dreamt anyway and as the others came up and presented their stories, she wrote one for herself and gave it to me later. Her note said that maybe being a princess is too far-fetched but being a doctor or a teacher isn’t and that is what she wanted to become and that she had been inspired by us, her teachers. I realized afresh the value of what we were doing among these children and it has strengthened my resolve to continue. If going there every weekend helps even one girl or boy then I know I have made a change. I truly look forward to every weekend I spend with these girls and will always strive to make a difference because I too, like the author of this quote would say that “I have the gift of faith and foolishness to believe that I can change the world”.
We thank you for believing in these children like we do and we really appreciate all you do to partner with us in our work here at U&I. Attached is a report about the progress at each of the Learning Centres that you support through your generosity. I would love to have you write to me with your thoughts, feedback and insight that would help us serve our communities better. Do write in at email@example.com
Once again, THANK YOU from everyone in Team U&I!!
The U&I Teach Program has had a very sucessful first quarter, with our centers completing the scheduled lesson plans and our teachers building a great relationship with the students. Over the past 4 months we have taught 650 women and children through 500 volunteers who have given upwards of 10000 hours in volunteering.
This report describes what we have been doing in each of our Learning Centres in the past 4 months and below is one of the many stories of success in the lives of the ones we reach.
Kanchana has lived most of her life seeing extreme poverty around her, everyday. Her parents beg on the streets of Bangalore and her drunken father squanders away their 'earnings'. With the little money that she manages to save, Kanchana's mother tries to buy things for her and her little siblings. Having never seen any other form of earning, Kanchana believed that begging is normal and her way of life. With this worldview came arrogance, fierce independence, disrespectful behaviour and a low self-esteem.
Kanchana was brought into Chaitanya to help rehabilitate her, give her a home and schooling and a chance at a better life. She proved to be a very bright and intelligent student but was very averse to positive affirmation as she did not believe that it was true. She disliked the other children and would disrupt class everyday. Throwing tantrums and crying continuously until she was left alone, Kanchana would then study by herself and did not like being instructed.
A big THANK YOU for partnering with us, our work is made possible through your generous and continuing support.
Dear Friend of U&I!!
We've had an amazing few months from March to June this year, these are the highlights of our work:
Its been very exciting as we have been able to start 2 new Learning Centres at Muslim Orphanage where we now teach English to 230 children. In this academic year we've grown in our operations as we now run 10 Learning Centres, reaching out to 650 under-privileged women and children. Attached is the report of these 3 months, please enjoy the read.
Thank you for your continuing support of the work we do!
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.
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