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!
Raziya Islam Sheikh’s story starts five years ago, in a village in Bihar, one of the poorest states of India, where the girl, then 6 years old, lived happily in a tiny hut with her family. But 2008 was a very bad year for them, as heavy rains destroyed the crops, and day by day it became difficult for Raziya’s father, Islam Sheikh, to feed his family. Whatever little savings the family had slowly started diminishing, as Islam was not able to find any work.
Finally, Raziya’s mother, Afsana Islam Sheikh, convinced her husband that they should move to Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra where her brother lived. This is why the family traveled 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) to the Agripada construction site in Mumbai. There, Islam was happy to be able to earn a living to feed his family, and his wife found work in nearby apartments as a domestic helper.However, Islam was concerned about who would take care of his two sons and two daughters when he and his wife were out working. At this time, he came to know about the Mumbai Mobile Creches centre operating at the Agripada construction site. He was relieved to know that he could send his children to the centre and not have to worry about their safety.
When Raziya first joined the centre, she was admitted in the balwadi (preschool) section. She could not understand Hindi at all since all she spoke at home was Bihari, but the MMC programme was designed to help migrant children like Raziya.
Raziya, now 11, is currently a part of MMC’s after-school programme for the age group 6-14 years. Now she is in the fourth grade in an Urdu-language government-run school. And she understands Urdu, Hindi, Marathi (the language used in Mumbai) and English. She has excelled in her studies and has a thirst for learning. If she does not understand something at school, she quickly comes to the centre and asks her teachers for help. She still takes part in all extracurricular activities in the centre and shares with her father and mother all that occurs there.
Her favorite memory of her time with MMC is when she was chosen to participate in this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, on October 11, 2013. She addressed a gathering of adults from renowned backgrounds, including celebrities, and the media. She was the youngest among the group of girls representing different organisations, but her voice did not even waver for a second as she delivered her speech in Hindi, leaving everyone in the room spellbound and amazed at the confidence of this little girl.
This is what she told the audience:
“My name is Raziya Islam Sheikh, and I am 11 years old. I study in the 4th standard. I like to read and write. The Mumbai Mobile Creches staff takes good care of all our needs.
“I have two brothers and a sister and my parents in my family. My home on the site is small and is made of tin. And it does not have a window, so there is very little ventilation.
“I want to study further and become a teacher. I only want to say that all children should study and progress further in life. I’ve learned from MMC how education can take me to great places, and I’ll never be able to forget what I’ve learned here.”
After the event, her sincere “thank you” to her teacher contained a million words she wanted to say.
Many families like Raziya’s come to Mumbai from their villages under distressing circumstances and in search of work. Construction sites in Mumbai house an estimated 3 million of the children of migrant workers, but no one knows the exact number because the government does not track these children.MMC is the only non profit organisation in Mumbai that works for children of migrant construction workers in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. MMC provides health, educational and nutritional services to approximately 4,500 children each year, with an average of 1,100 children attending a centre on any given day.
Your contribution has helped many children like Raziya to have a healthy and happy childhood and a brighter future.
Thank you, Global Giving!!!!
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