Sheerni Educational Project Update
In February, Vimlesh Solanki, one of our existing tutors who was teaching the children in our project at Balikah Grah, the government boarding home, was appointed to come to the boarding house to help support the girls with their Hindi and other subjects. The volunteers help with English and Maths homework on a daily basis when they go to the boarding home for a couple of hours a day and Nirmala the housemother, now needs the assistance of a Hindi speaking tutor with the 20 girls. A structure was established to do homework all together first, then have a group activity or task related to Maths/English and then they would all go to the park nearby for sports and games. In March volunteers were taking dance and theater classes and the girls enjoyed these very much.
Gerti, one of the Sambhali volunteers who has returned for a second time, had put together some First Aid boxes with a lot of equipment in them and held a First Aid workshop for the girls and Nirmala. They now have a first aid box and knowledge about what to do in cases of injuries and burns.
In school, the Principal checked the notebooks and homework of the girls and most girls got good marks, but Samta and Vishnu had poor writing and were missing exercises; Rekha also has problems in school. Vimla, Santosh, Priyanka and Kaushalya spent some days in the village because of a wedding. On 27 February Anne Vincent from the Global Foundation for Humanity visited the boarding house with two other guests to check on the progress of the girls.
In March the girls were preparing for exams. The volunteers concentrated hard working with the girls in Maths. All of the girls know written addition and subtraction now. Pankaj shows an ability to solve problems that even girls in class 4,(the class above her), have problems with. Pankaj has shown to be very bright.
After January (the winter holiday) the girls behaved quite badly, which was beginning to disrupt the group, and so Mrs Manju Metha, Sambhali’s Project Co-ordinator and Mr. Virendra Singh explained to the girls how to behave, and everything settled down again. They asked that all the staff and volunteers to spend half an hour every day, teaching the girls good behaviour.
Pankaj, Rekha and Vishnu are starting to read English. The girls reading in the 3rd Standard are reading English and are good at Maths. All of the girls have great results at school and have good grades. Asu is one of the best ones reading and drawing. Next year they will put her in 5th Standard class, instead of 4th because she is so good. Samta is doing her best writing now.
All of the girls have received a follow-up session on Sambhali’s No Bad Touch Workshop by our Sambhali NBT Project team, regarding awareness about Child Sexual Abuse. On 24 March all the girls had inoculation against hepatitis. The Boarding home have changed the arrangements and so now the girls eat downstairs on a long table, where they have more space.
In April, as the girls had their exams during this month, we did more studying and teaching with them than normal. While Vimlesh has been working a lot with the older girls, the volunteers took more care of the younger ones. Grade 3 and 4 had to learn different passages out of their books: some they had to be able to write, others they had to read well or know by heart.
Apart from this, there have been lessons when the older girls (starting from 5th grade) had been taught and repeated the tenses (with Vimlesh and a volunteer). In addition, Vimlesh taught them spelling of different words and checked if they could remember one day later. They also learned spelling in a game.
Anu was struggling with English, so we had some extra reading and writing lessons and we are encouraging her to speak English as much as possible so she can gain confidence in her abilities. Pushpa is struggling a lot. While she is able to say the necessary things in English, it is really difficult for her to write or read. She needs more help with English and she is motivated to learn. Rekha’s spoken English is good enough to be able to talk to her and have a conversation but needs more help from the volunteers to help her write English. Priya seems to do very well and understands fast, if she gets taught something new. Two girls had a lot of problems reading Hindi, so Vimlesh was helping them and taught them how to read with great success. She also taught them strategies how they can learn best.
Nirmala, the housemother, taught the girls how to pronounce the vowels and helped them in reading Hindi. She also assisted the older girls in social studies and environmental studies as well as in science and moral science. Nirmla explained to them the stories they have read in school and discussed the moral of it.
In Maths, Vimlesh has taught them fractions (how to add and subtract them). Also the smaller girls (1st to 4th grade) were taught how to multiply, divide, add and subtract. All of the girls had to learn tables and a competition was created to check who can learn them the fastest. A few girls were able to do them up to 20 easily. The older girls (6th to 8th grade) were taught areas and parameters of squares and rectangles. The same topics that Vimlesh has been teaching during the afternoon, Nirmla repeated after Vimlesh and the volunteers have left. She practised Addition and Subtraction with the girls.
Just a few days before the end of the month, two new girls joined the boarding home (Alfisa and Nosil). They adapted very well within a few days and seem to be well and comfortable. The other girls take good care of them.
Sheerni Self Help Group Project
This project has proved very successful since it was established in 2009. A few of the original women have left the groups and a few new ones have joined a year ago. There were 8 groups totalling 96 women and in January of this year a 9th group was created with another 11 women, making 107 women. Mrs Manju Mehta who is the Project Coordinator has explained to them about the work and the rules of the Self-Help Groups. Each woman gave fifty rupees which was deposited with the bank manager in Setrawa and all the documents were given so that a new bank account could be opened.
Every Thursday in of each month, a group discussion takes place involving all the groups on a rotational basis with Mrs Mehta. They explained to the women in the group how to take loans and Mrs Mehta would give them tips on how to start a business or how to make the business work better. Savings have been increasing well in the groups, and the women now have the confidence and are interested in taking out large loans of up to 10000 rupees.
All members of the groups have been attending well except the members from the small hamlet of Solankiyatala who have found it difficult to attend the meetings. So the Director of Sambhali Trust, Govind Singh Rathore went to meet the women to discuss their problems. He said he wanted to be able to donate a sewing machine, flour machine and 2 goats from Sambhali Trust to 4 women who were in need of substantial help to try and start their own small businesses. These donations have been able to come directly out of Global Giving Funding. In November three loans were given to 3 women of 8000 rupees to Markyari and 10000 rupees each to Bhanwari and Lila, to enable them to start small businesses, by purchasing animals and machines.
In November the group monthly meeting improved in size and there were 99% of the group members present. Before that the women where very busy in their fields cutting crops until Diwali festival, when they finished. All the women expressed interest in the need for help from Sambhali Trust for their daughters’ education. It is from these families that the 20 girls in the Sheerni Educational Project have come from. The women see the success of their daughters being educated in Jodhpur over the last 18 months and view it as something that they would like all their children to be able to do.
The distribution of loans for the women November was as follows:
Group 1 Puspa / Shop Rs 13 000
Group 2 Sayra / Shop Rs 5 000
Group 4 Bhawri Reni / 2 Goat / 10 000 Rs
Group 6 Fulla Deni / 2 Goat / Rs 14 000
Group 7 Champa / one Goat / Rs 5 000
In December several more donations were made all to the thanks of the donations received through Global Giving:
Sua received Rs 6 000 to buy a goat Samda received Rs 6 000 to buy a goat Mima received Rs 15 000 to buy equipment for the construction of her house Mawa received Rs 10 000 to start her own shop Bhumi received Rs 10 000 to buy a cow
Govind Singh Rathore visited Setrawa again this month and spoke to the women about their problems and assured them for help. A woman named Tipu was provided assistance to pay off outstanding electricity bills for three months.
No loans were distributed this month to any group as there are three to four active loans in every group. There is a need to maintain sufficient cash balance in the bank. Also the women are requesting significant sums as a loan, but loan disbursement will resume only after some of the outstanding loans have been repaid.
Sheerni Educational Project
The girls have had the results of their practical exams; 9 of the girls received 80% and above with Lelita achieving 100%! We are delighted with the results and overall a very pleasing set of marks. The girls are now getting into a new routine with the volunteers to include jogging and different sports activities for the girls to get regular daily exercise, after they have finished their homework. They have been visited by Mrs Jacqueline de Chollet who helped initiate this project and regularly reviews the progress of the girls as well as by the Department of Women and Child Development . The weights of the girls are taken every 3 months and it’s good to note that some of the new young girls who arrived 4 months ago are gradually eating more nutritious food and putting on weight. Some more school exams were held in December, followed by a holiday when the girls returned to their home village of Setrawa until 14 January.
A medical camp was also held in December where the girls were given blood tests for haemoglobin and all tests showed normal results, except for one girl whose result was low and she was given treatment. The volunteers go into the boarding home 5 days a week, to help the children with their homework and preparation for exams, sports activities and lessons in geography and general knowledge. Also they encourage singing and dancing in their free time. For a week the girls spent time at the Sambhali headquarters where they were able to use the neighbouring playground and sports complex. The volunteers also gave a workshop on the geography of Rajasthan and India and teaching them to do some crocheting. Sonja one of the volunteers was also able to give a follow-up talk to them as part of Sambhali’s “No Bad Touch” Programme.
Sheeni Educational Programme Update
In August exams were held in Galaxy School where the 20 girls attend. Many of the Sambhali girls achieved good marks; the remaining 14 girls got between 54%-60% and Santosh’s result was 45%. We are very happy that they have settled down at school and making good progress and even though they are from a rural village background they are now able to compete in an urban school in Jodhpur.
Neero achieved 90% and came 4th position in her Class
Nisha achieved 85% and came 5th position in her Class
Vimla achieved 78% and came 7th position in her Class
Priya achieved 75%
Pooja achieved 77.4% and came 5th position in her Class
On 2 September all the girls went to Jadan Hospital in Pali to have vaccinations for Hepatitis A & B and Tetanus. They also all had a dental check-up and treatment where necessary.
All the girls are gaining weight gradually and in comparison with last year, their haemoglobin tests were taken and are now quite satisfactory.
The volunteers have been helping with the girls reading English books; three girls are now able to read Hindi books; two girls in particular, Panhaj and Pushpa have made good progress over the last 2 months. In Maths the girls are practising their sums for school at the boarding home; they practise with question and answer sessions and also by revising their times-tables! They are making very good progress in Addition and Subtraction.
We have many volunteers coming to help the girls at the Boarding Home and we were fortunate in having an experienced volunteer who was a teacher of Montessori techniques. She was able to use various of her skills in teaching the girls English and the alphabet in a visual manner, including performing movements to enable them to achieve A-Z!
Friends of Sambhali Switzerland have been very busy knitting socks, which have found their way to the 20 girls in the boarding home for the cold winter mornings and evenings!
Since June we now have 5 new girls, Priya, Pushpa, Anu, Santosh and Neeru (aged 6-13 years old) in the Boarding Home, making 20 in total, which is now the maximum intake. Two of the girls already have sisters in the Boarding Home. These girls have also come from the same village area of Setrawa (100 miles west of Jodhpur) and have been to the Setrawa Empowerment Centre, run by Sambhali Trust.
The girls have all settled down together in a good routine and started school again after the holidays on 1 July and attend school between 7.30am and 12.30pm. They then have lunch back at the boarding home and Nirmala, the housemother, helps them with their homework. The volunteers go there between 3.30pm-6.30pm Monday to Friday and do a variety of educational activities as well as sports activities on Tuesdays and Saturdays. A former volunteer, Renate who was one of the first volunteers to establish the Boarding Home with its routine and help the girls adjust from a village life to one living in the town, returned on 16 June to spend 6 weeks at the boarding home to see how the girls have changed and see it further develop. Preparations were done to go back to school – buying school uniform, shoes, books, stationery and the 5 new girls got admission to Galaxy School. One afternoon Nirmela was checking the size of the school uniforms, socks and shoes and who can inherit something from another girl. Despite the good checking quite a lot of new clothes, shoes, socks etc was needed and Nirmela, Ms. Manju Mehta and some girls went to the market. A few girls and the new ones had only 1 or 2 pieces of clothes and some even not any underwear. so additional shopping was necessary.
All the girls and the staff welcomed the new girls, made posters, drawing many new pictures and everyone was very happy. All the girls were asked to return to the boarding home from their village on 20 June 2013, 10 days before school re-opened. The boarding home was painted in the vacation and they bought a new table to study on and eat on and everyone was very happy with the new changes. New sets of books were bought for the girls, covers were made for all the books and notebooks. Renate felt that the children’s manners (eg eating habits, how to greet guests and how to look after their own possessions), could be further improved and so devised a small session where they would talk about manners in different scenarios before and after dinner.
The volunteers help the girls with reading English. Out of the 20 girls the two volunteers pair up 10 of the weak and stronger girls and work in pairs to teach them; Nirmala, teaches the others. Their English reading has really improved over the last few weeks so that the older girls can now read books. They have been given sessions on Hygiene and brushing their teeth and their homework is more disciplined now. For tooth brushing and hand washing the girls had learned their exercises very well. Only on a couple of evenings did they need to be reminded about tooth brushing - this is done now nearly automatically. In terms of hand-washing before meals it was a very short one just rinsing with water - but we now do ‘Healthy hand washing‘ as learnt in the hospital . An inofficial competition who produced the most foam or the biggest bubble is always a fun exercise even requested by the girls. The older girls are taking on more responsibility and 5 of them have been allocated as monitors for daily duties in the boarding home and are well respected by the younger girls.
At school they learn Social Studies, Science, Sanskrit, Hindi, English and Maths and a couple of times a week the volunteers take them out to the park to play team games which is a lot of fun! Pooja, one of the girls who has a disability (scoliosis of the spine) takes her books with her to the park instead of playing games, testimony to the 82% she got in her exams in April. Another 4 girls also do the same thing and enjoy sitting in the park reading their books and talking together. Every month the girls get weighed and measured to show how much weight/height they have gained.
A couple of volunteers have done a ‘Lice workshop’ and gave a demonstration how to wash their hair, how to avoid lice and how to treat the condition. They also have a session on Fridays called ‘Praise Time’ where the girls take it in turns to say something about one of the other girls in the boarding home and praise something that they have done that particular week.
At the end of May one of the girls was operated on for an eardrum problem and so was taken to a hospital clinic in Jodhpur for the operation. There was a visit by the Child Welfare Committee and the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment on 29 June, to allow Sambhali Trust be granted a certificate under the Juvenile Justice Act.
In July we successfully finished our first ever workshop on "Good Touch and Bad Touch" for the girls at the Boarding Home; it is a programme regarding the Education and Awareness of Child Abuse. Since then Sambhali Trust has held a one-day conference which brought professional people from Health, Education and Government Departments to discuss the issue and Sambhali would like to continue this by developing an Outreach programme in Jodhpur. We are thankful to Arnica and Sarah and all the other volunteers who have put efforts in putting together this very sensitive issue.
Sheerni Educational Project Annual Report (attached)
Sheerni Self-Help Group Project
We would like to tell you a story of two of the women of the project.
“I am from Belwa, near to Balesar, 40 minutes from Setrawa. When I was very young, my father died, and my mother had to go door to door to get food for us. I got married when I was 15 years old and moved to Setrawa. My husband was 25 years old. He was working in a stone mine.
Now, I have 5 daughters and 2 sons. Now I am a widow – my husband died one and a half years ago. I have 4 children still in the house – 2 daughters are married and one, Asu, is at the boarding school in Jodhpur (Sheerni Educational Programme).
Three of my daughters got married at one time to save money, but one is too young to move in with her husband (she’s 14), so she continues to live with me until she is old enough. When my husband died, I got 30,000 rupees from the government – I used this money to marry my daughters and for my husband’s traditional twelve days of mourning.
Dau Devi told me about Sambhali 3 years ago and made me want to join. Before Sambhali, if I needed money, I had to ask my Rajput neighbours for smaller sums. It is better now that I can come to get this money from Sambhali. On my first loan from Sambhali, I took 6,000 rupees for two goats. Now I have four goats, they are providing my family with lots of milk, and later I will sell the two kid goats for money.
My second loan was 2,000 rupees. I tried to start a business selling vegetables door to door, but that wasn’t successful, so I stopped it. It was summer, and the vegetables were rotting. The third time, Sambhali donated one flour grinding machine to me.
Two of my sons and 1 daughter are sponsored to go to private schools in Setrawa.
Trying to choose what is the best thing that Sambhali has given me is very difficult; for me the best thing of all is Sambhali. I like the weekly meetings because if I have any stress or problems I can tell all the ladies in my group, if I need money I can tell the President of the self-help group.
Now I am only one woman and I am doing housework, flour-grinding, and sometimes stone work to support my family. My future plans are to make a small shop attached to my house for my flour- machine and other goods.“
My name is Indra Devi. I am 40 years old. I was married at 15. When my husband and I were first married, he wasn’t working, but then he bought a big stone mine. For a time, we had money. I have two daughters, one married and living in Chaba, one and a half hours away. Five and a half years ago, my husband died in a car accident with 25 other people. The driver was drinking alcohol. The car was full of the men of 4 surrounding houses – all the men in my family, my brothers-in-law and their cousins also died in this car. So then we were 4 houses of only women, who couldn’t do anything. I had to sell the stone mine to help support us.
Then I learned about Sambhali. I had no other ideas of what to do and Govind said he would help us, so I joined the group. I learned about it 3 years ago from a friend. I just started with 50 rupees a month, then I took a loan for 9,500 rupees and I bought a cow. I started to sell the milk from the cow and help my family a little bit. One of the other women in my family now has a flour-grinding machine, and one of my grand-daughters is sponsored by Sambhali to go to private school in Setrawa. Another woman in my family wants to take a loan for a sewing machine.
I’m the older person in my family, so all the responsibility is on me. Seven kids from the family are living with me – kids of the parents who died in the car crash. Now I am not feeling good every day and I wonder, if I die, who will take care of these children? There is still a lot of stress in my life.
Two other women in my family are enrolled in the Narega scheme with the government to work in construction, but I can’t do this work because I am too old. For my next loan, I’d like to start a small shop. We are very far from the market here so all my neighbours and people would buy from here – it would be a good business. I hope to take this loan in the future.
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