This autumn, our centres were colourful, animated and full of excitement as we celebrated our fifth annual Book Week from November 17th to November 22nd 2014. Our Book Week is dedicated to make reading a pleasure, encourages our children to explore books other than school texts and kindles in our children a lifelong love of books.
The theme for this year’s Book Week was “In the World of Animals” (Praniyon Ke Sangh),so all stories and activities during the week centred on different types of animals.
Preparation and Planning
Classroom schedules and activities were planned ahead of time and our teachers underwent training workshops to ensure that Book Week went smoothly. Books for gifting the children and new books for release were procured and distributed to the centres beforehand. At the centres, both children and teachers put up placards, posters and banners announcing the Book Week’s activities.
In order to set a tone of excitement for the week, children and teachers paraded around the construction sites with handmade posters, while chanting slogans and singing. This ceremonial ritual, also called the ‘Prabhat Pheri’ (a morning rally of sorts), is an important part of the schedule because it heralds the start of Book Week. This year, the rally took place on the 14th of November on the occasion of Children’s Day announcing the coming of the Book Week. At many centres children were dressed like Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, whose birthday is also celebrated as Children’s Day.
A formal inauguration followed this parade at the centres. Special guests were invited to participate and witness the opening ceremonies. Site supervisors, government school principals and teachers were invited. A lamp was lit to mark the beginning of Book Week and a number of new children’s books were introduced to the community, one of which was read aloud at the ceremony. The guests went on to share their personal experiences with books, libraries and stories.
Children explored books by examining the books’ characters and vocabulary and designing new cover pages and content for the books. They came up with their own sequels of stories or imagined how the characters of two different stories would meet, coming up with a new story of their own by the end of the week.
Here are some of the activities the children enjoyed during Book Week:
Animal Charts and Maps: In this activity session, the children were asked to write down different things about the animals which were the central characters of the stories, such as their behaviour, names, physical features, etc. The children were given cutouts of the world map and asked to place the animals in the countries in which they are found. This also helped them learn about the countries around the world in an interesting manner. The teacher guided the students to identify the countries and place the animals correctly.
Bookmark Making: This was one of our children’s favourite activities. They prepared bookmarks sporting different animal faces, coloured and decorated beautifully, and displayed them at the centres. They were thrilled to take the bookmarks home to show off their hard work and creativity to their parents.
Newspaper Reading: Two newspapers, one in the national language of Hindi and the other one in a regional language, were brought in each day of Book Week. The children used the newspapers for reading and reviewing articles during class hours and later in the evening move on to play an important role within the community. In the evenings, two or three children at each centre volunteered to read the newspapers to the community.
Phirti Library(Mobile Library): During Book Week, our Phirti Library travelled directly to the homes of community members. Two or more nominated children issued and returned books, going door to door in the community.
Mujhe Padkar Sunao(“Read to Me”):This programme drew a large number of participants from the community, as each child was paired with an adult. Younger children were read a book by a community member, while older children showed off their skills by reading to the adults. At one of our centres, parents exclaimed, “Ab kitabe padna achchaa lagta hai!” (Now we started enjoying reading).
D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read): This programme, which is held every day in our Balwadi (pre-primary) classroom for 15 minutes, was a key component of Book Week. All children were given time to choose their own books and read them either quietly or aloud to each other. This encouraged children to explore their interests and gave them an opportunity to identify the kinds of books they like.
Field Trips:These outings gave children a greater exposure to the world of reading around them. MMC children visited nearby government schools and read aloud a story book. They also participated in a child-to-child activity, during which MMC children read a story for private school children and in turn private school children shared their favourite story with our children.
The last day of Book Week held a surprise for our children. Each child at the centres received a gift – a story book to take back home.They were all overjoyed to have their very own colourful books, a rare opportunity for most of them. It was the perfect ending to our wonderful Book Week,which made reading a joyful experience for our children!
This August, we were proud to see 29 women complete our year-long childcare giver training course Bal Palika. Nine of these graduates were from families who work at the construction sites. With our renewed affiliation with Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women's University (SNDT); a well recognised university in Mumbai; 15 trainees from this batch appeared for SNDT examination and secured a Diploma certificate in Nursery / Crèche Management. An exciting moment for MMC as we see them complete this one year long intensive course successfully!
Do you know the hard work that goes into becoming an MMC teacher?
... We’re happy to share our secret!
The MMC training programme, or the Balpalika programme, started in 1982, is an intensive year long course that prepares women to work in early childcare and education. These women are paid a stipend during the duration of the training; they spend four days a week in a practical internship at an MMC day care centre, and two days a week in lectures at training centres. This helps to provide them theoretical as well as hands-on training regarding early childhood care. Veteran trainers employ a comprehensive curriculum to teach women about cognitive and social development in children, child nutrition and first aid skills, and milestones in development among children of different ages. They then build upon this foundational knowledge with sessions focused on creating a stimulating and appropriate learning environment for children, practical teaching tools, managing a day care centre, and how to assess and evaluate children’s progress. After going through such rigorous training the teachers are all set to display their talents and learning in two exciting opportunities that await them in their final leg of this wonderful journey!
1. Teaching Aids Exhibition
After eight months of hard work and training, the trainees share their learnings and display their success in an interesting exhibition of teaching aids. The MMC philosophy is “Learning through Play” and the trainees make use of local recycled materials to make unique teaching aids for joyful learning. Each year a different theme is chosen and the teachers prepare innovative teaching aids for the exhibition based on the theme. We await to see these wonderful pieces of creativity every year!
2. Graduation Ceremony: The finale
Upon completing the course, they receive a certificate of graduation, at which point they are fully qualified to work as early childhood caregivers at MMC’s day care centres or with other NGOs. The training not only provides community women with valuable skills and professional knowledge that will allow them to work as child care workers but also encourages community investment in childcare and education programmes. Becoming certified childcare workers provides these women with the opportunity to become financially independent and develop a sense of identity!
The Bal Palika Programme is one such step towards our mission to reach all children and for all children to enjoy a safe, happy and healthy childhood.
We hope you are having a great week! We appreciate your consistent support towards our programmes, and it’s extraordinary that most of you have not seen how MMC works but believe in the work we do and have supported us through our journey in the past months. We sincerely appreciate it and for all the trust that you have bestowed on us, this report is an attempt to take you through a journey; a sneak peek into an MMC centre.
A Day at an MMC Centre
Before any student arrives, our teachers arrive at the centre. The centre is a small structure created for temporary use. It is divided into three rooms a crèche for babies who are under 3 years old, a balwadi (pre primary) for children aged 3 above to 5 years and a classroom for providing after school support to the children above 6 years.
Mothers come to the centre with their children in hand. They feel comfortable leaving their babies in the caring hands of our experienced teachers. Older siblings say goodbye to each other as they go to their separate classrooms, happy to be free of their premature parenting responsibilities for some time! Upon arrival, crèche babies are cleaned, powdered and have been given a fresh uniform to promote proper hygiene.
The children have free-play, and get the opportunity to unwind by playing with simple toys. During this time, our teachers prepare breakfast.
Each child is given a warm breakfast of porridge made from finger millet and milk, along with a drop of multivitamins/supplements to provide them with even more nutriments.
Free play continues for the younger children and they have the opportunity to choose from games such as water play, doll houses, picture books and sand play .
The children in after school support classroom begin their learning by working on math and language skills in fun and interactive ways
**The public schools run in two shifts, one in the morning the other in the afternoon, the children who go to the school in the morning come for the after school support programme at the centre in the afternoon and vice versa.
Children are given a toilet break and served a mid-morning snack of egg or fruit. Attendance is also taken to keep track of all our children.
The morning continues with activities such as physical and language development games for the crèche children and on the monthly Prakalp theme for the Balwadi (pre-primary) children. Children engage in songs and conversation about the topic. The older children dive deeper into skills such as reading, writing and maths.
Balwadi children now gather for school preparedness sessions, when the teachers indulge them in reading, writing and storytelling.
Story-time/Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R) - Books are the main focus at this time. For the younger children, a story is chosen and read out loud by the teachers. The older children pick their own books and read independently or in groups.While the children read, our teachers start preparing lunch in order to ensure that our children are eating clean and nutritious food.
After a morning of fun and learning, the children eat the tasty lunch of khichdi or dal-chawal (rice and lentils) or dalia (bulgar wheat), freshly cooked by our caring teachers. We also receive part support for our nutrition programme, at 16 of our 23 centres from the governments’ Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which covers children from 3-6 years of age.
Most of the children head home to spend some time with their parents, who are now receiving their lunch breaks.
During this time, our teachers follow up on things they need to do such as: meeting the contractor about the power supply and reminding the mothers about the doctor’s visit. Afterwards, they quickly have their lunches and get a brief respite from a long morning’s work.
The children return to the centre after having spent some quality time with their families. The balwadi have free play, arts and crafts while the crèche babies play with the toys.
The older children continue working on the studies which in include, English and Math.
The Balwadi and older children’s classrooms become vibrant during this time of the day as they engage in innovative arts and crafts sessions like drawing and painting, clay work, puppet making, craft work, collage work, hygiene session, respectively from Monday to Saturday.
The older children’s classroom focusses on the monthly Prakalp theme, engaging in conversation and activities revolving around the theme.
The crèche babies are awake, they are given milk and changed into their regular clothing, while all the older children are fed an evening snack of sprouts, chickpea etc. All of the children prepare to head back home.
The children have departed and the teachers tidy the centre in preparation for tomorrow. All is quiet in the centre until the next day…
Hello Friends and Supporters,
Here we are again with our latest report on what’s been happening at MMC! The first few months of 2014 have been busy, as always. Today, we are happy to share with you a glimpse of a latest event – the ‘Alumni Meet’, which thrilled us by revealing the extent of impact of our work!
The most challenging area of MMC’s work is due to the migrant nature of construction workers, who move in and out of the construction sites erratically, often at a day’s notice. Our research shows that 62% of the children attending our centres do not remain with us for more than 6 months as their families move from one site to another in search of work. Thus, organising an Alumni Meet was a challenging thought on its own, but we were delighted by its success. The Meet was set for 1st February, 2014, with an aim to build a platform for ex-students from MMC’s daycare centres. 18 of MMC's alumni attended this meet.
The participating alumni were excited to be a part of this initiative, which gave them an opportunity to bond with each other after a gap of several years. They shared their life stories and the significant role MMC had played in it. It was satisfying to know that despite many hardships, many of them are now doing exceptionally well in their respective fields, moving beyond the walls of the construction sites.
In the words of alumni, Rajkanya Bhokare, a 21 year old Law student:
“Both my parents worked in construction site. There was no one at home to look after me and my siblings. That is when our parents enrolled us in the day care centre run by Mumbai Mobile Creches (MMC) on site. When I was 6 (six) years old, MMC teachers enrolled us into the nearby Municipal school. After that I attended private school and continued college education too. Currently I am studying law and will complete my course in the next two years. MMC has always supported me at different stages in my life. Even today I am very closely associated with MMC through various activities. I have spent my childhood with the teachers of MMC and hope to get their support in future as well.”
The active participation and enthusiasm among the alumni during the day, especially during the group activities, was truly inspiring. They were eager to extend support in expanding the network and came up with different ideas on how to do so.
The alumni network was named “Hamara MMC (Our MMC)”, and MMC created an exclusive Facebook page to facilitate communication amongst the group. This network will now be a platform for our alumni to share their experiences, give information about opportunities and help each other to progress while inspiring a new generation of MMC children. These empowered individuals serve as agents of change in their own lives and in their communities today. MMC has now formed an alumni network data base with their updated contacts and hopes to expand its members.
With the generous support of donors via Global Giving, MMC continues to work toward leading such vulnerable children into a brighter future, like the alumni featured today.
Hello friends and supporters,
We’re back again to update you with the latest happenings at MMC. It’s been busy three months here and we’ve got the most current and fun news for you -- a sneak peek into our Mumbai Mobile Creches Annual Camp.
Continuing the tradition of past 27 years, MMC organized an annual camp from 16th to 20th December 2013. Each year we take all children older than 5 years, who attend our day care centres to Marve Beach for a residential camp. This year a total of 426 children from our centres spread across the city attended the camp in two batches.
The camp is one of the few opportunities that these young children get to step out of the construction site where they live and spend two funfilled days away from the monotony of the concrete and cement that constantly surrounds them. It is also the only time of the year when children from different centres meet each other and get to share their experiences and showcase their talents.
New things that we did at the camp this year :
We were able to arrange a number of activities and introduce some fresh and innovative programmes for children. Here we provide you with a snapshot of the various activities at the camp.
We organized a joker juggling act and a Charlie Chaplin show which was a fun entertaining experience for the children. The fancy dress competition gave the children the chance to show off outfits that they made at their centres before arriving at the camp. The children got to express their creativity by choosing which animal, object, or character they wanted to dress up as and then tailoring a suitable costume. One girl was dressed as a joker, another as a doctor, and one boy dressed as a bag (creating the whole costume out of different types of bags)! Students formed groups at their centres and prepared for dance shows. The dances were then performed before the whole group at the camp. The children really looked forward to performing their dances and getting the chance to show off their hard work on stage.
Hair braiding and body painting were once again extremely exciting activities for the children. This time, we arranged the hair braiding activity especially for the girls. While the girls were hair braiding, the boys participated in a body painting session. The children loved getting these body decorations and eagerly showed them to the staff and posed for photographs to show off their hair styles and body art! After the excitement of the hair braiding and body art sessions, the children settled down to watch the cartoon film “Ice Age 4 – Continental Drift” (Hindi). Unlike other years, we arranged a large screen for the film. The children enjoyed this indoor break, before having their tea and heading to the beach for some free play time!
A Fun-Fair was also arranged for the children on the last day of the camp. It was a completely new experience for them. We erected five different stalls which offered activities such as a darts board, balloon games, and ring games. All the children had a chance to play these games, and they were given interesting gifts at the end. Since they were so popular last year, we served popcorn and cotton candy again this year, but added a new, fun flavour to the usual menu. In addition the children were also given a healthy treat of fruits and nuts.New MMC T-shirts were given to the children at the conclusion of the camp for them to take home and use in the future. This will be a very special gift to them, even after they move out of the site where we have our centre!
Thank you so much for helping us continue to provide a safe, happy, healthy childhood to thousands of children living on construction sites!
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Communications and Donor Relations Officer