After months of planning GVI have started the first summer school in the Auxilium school. This Summer school is a great way for kids to be occupied during their summer holidays. A lot of them come from families who cannot afford to take them on holiday or they may not have toys to play with at home and so end up playing on the streets.
At the summer school they are learning English, taking Arts, Crafts and Music classes and playing sports. Other than this they are going to make new friends, improve communication skills and their confidence in English speaking and simply have lots of fun and games. 50 children are attending, they are divided into three teams - the youngest group called Tooti Frooti (Years 2 and 3), Chocolate Chip (Year 4 and 5) and Raspberry Ripple (Year 6 and 7). GVI Volunteers start at 8 am with aerobics and yoga. After this we have singing and by 9am we start English class. After English the children take arts and crafts, play sports or take music lessons. We are also using our local contacts to bring in people from different walks of life to guide the children- for example this week a gym instructor is coming to give the children education on the importance of eating healthy foods and exercising and keeping the body and mind fit. Thank you so much for donations to the project and support for the children.
Sports day at the school is a day when the learning stops and the competition begins! When I hear the words Sports Day I think of when I was little and we would all get a break from school to go and play games and maybe win a prize at the end of the day. Sports Day at Axilium School is very different. The students are broken up into teams: Emerald, Safire, Diamond and Ruby. At the beginning of the day each team are separated into perfectly straight lines and begin to march as one around the school grounds. The students, who are usually running, playing and fooling around were now marching so straight and pristinely you would think you were performing for the royal army itself. The school even has its own torch to light at the beginning of the ceremony. After the marching there were some speeches from Sister Annie, Mother Superior and a guest speaker who came to bless the games. And then it was GVI’s turn. The night before sports day GVI Staff and Volunteers put together a cheer for the school, we rehearsed it perfectly but when we stood in front of an army of 500 students we all froze but thankfully one of the volunteers, Daria, sang an amazing version of “Lean on me” and everyone cheered! After that, the games really began! There was long jump, sprint, three legged race and a tug of war to finish the day off. While many of the games were taking place volunteers and local teachers served lemonade to the children.
Once all the races had been completed the winners were announced. Each winner stood up on the podium to receive a bronze, silver or gold crown. At the end of the day everyone was exhausted but we could tell the teachers and students had had a wonderful Sports Day.
Thank you to all of supporters for helping to make events like this possible for these children.
If the affection the children of Kerala have for their teachers could be measured simply in decibels, then the ear-crackling screams of appreciation which greeted the entrance of these elegant and graceful ladies to the Auxilliam School games hall to watch the afternoon's entertainment said it all.
But the day didn't start there.
Teacher's Day is celebrated all across India and reflects the cultural importance of education as a means of advancing the development of Indians and thus India itself: the teacher is at the heart of this. Children will arrive in the morning for school clutching cards and drawings and flowers and sweets- all to say "thank you" to the people who are with them all day, working hard to prepare them for the years ahead. The classrooms can be uncomfortably hot; the power might fail; and materials they have to work with may not be the best, but the dedication of these ladies (and they are all ladies) is unfaltering.
A day to say 'thank-you' is about right.
And so the school day begins: register is taken and the cards build up, happy faces smile as they watch teacher read their message of thanks; the sweets are plentiful and the flowers fight for room on the desk. But everyone knows the best part of the day is still to come.
For weeks the children have pinched time to rehearse and practice their routines: traditional Malayalam songs; dances to Indian tunes old and new, and comedy sketches. Outfits are made, props are gathered and as the afternoon approaches, and the teachers wait outside the hall to be introduced to the whole school waiting for them, the nerves jangle.
The stage is set: the blue backdrop says simply "Thank you Teachers and Volunteers". The teachers are, like everyday, dressed in saris of every colour; lined up outside the hall they are an impressive sight. Immaculately dressed, they await the spotlight to fall upon them just as it is in class. But this time they get to relax and watch the entertainment. They are introduced individually and each class tries tries to outdo the other to show how much much their teacher means to them. The noise is deafening: these modest ladies struggle not to show how proud they must feel inside, and little smiles escape and flash across the hall.
The cheering increases.
Now seated, the show begins: as the dancers and singers perform, eager kids join in and clap to the beat; and the teachers join their charges in laughing at the comedy sketches set in classrooms with characters that are all too familiar... A power-cut during one routine proves brief and the atmosphere cannot be calmed.
The show is a success. Little faces beam and the hours of hard work pays off. To round the day off a presentation is made to the teachers: more presents, only this time we, as volunteers, are also invited onto the stage to receive gifts. Unexpected , but lovely.
Being made welcome and to feel important by the school is only one side of the deal: the best bit is in knowing that you're part of a community where the focus is on helping children learn and improve, and who know why 'Teacher's Day' is so valued.
It was a fun Wednesday for the kids in the 9th Grade as they got together to clean up the grounds of the orphanage with some volunteers who visited the school. The boys worked hard (such posers!)...but the girls worked harder!! They cleared the weeds around the goal posts so everyone can play soccer... especially as the world cup fever is on! A lot of the teachers and GVI staff also joined in and got their hands dirty. Big thanks to all and hopefully they will be using the field a lot more!
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