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.
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