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Jun 2, 2020

Case studies, Pots and Beans and Response to COVID

Pots and Beans:

Pots and beans activity was designed by Save the Children, UK to learn quality of participation. Children voted on 9 criteria out of 3 marks. One being the lowest and three being the highest. The voting done in open manner with discussion and taken by consensus. Overall average (all our 20 community) is 2.77 out of 3. The criteria are as following: 1. Inclusiveness. 2. Transparent and informative 3. Child friendly 4. Relevant for children 5. Supported by training 6. Accountable 7. Respectful 8. Safe and sensitive to risks 9. Voluntarily. 422 children took part in this activity.


In Balsena there is no discrimination between children and adults based on caste, religion or gender. We play together. If someone is making mistake they are not excluded or “OUT” but they are included or “IN”.

Informative and Transparent:

If there are any meeting all the children are informed. We are given information in a manner we understand. If we have any question they are answered in a respectful manner. If there are any donors or guests who come for visit we meet them. If we need to go out of our area or city for any meetings or trainings our parents are fully informed.

Child Friendly:

Girls and boys are respectful towards each other. Age appropriate activities are conducted. We never get beaten up or made to feel low. We children support each other during the activities and also learn from our peers. We are not discriminated against in Balsena by children or adults.

Relevant for Children:

Age appropriate activities are conducted in Balsena. The activities are designed keeping in mind our needs. We are taught skills that are necessary in our life. Our wishes are taken into consideration while doing activity. Activities are done in a manner we understand.

Supported by Training:

Active and council children are given training first and then we give trainings to other children by along with the facilitator. We help facilitators in many activities. We are given Wenlido trainings to be safe from abuses and learn how to make safe decisions. Trainings are conducted in a practical manner where we can learn through experiences and practice it in our daily lives.


Whenever there are any programs the facilitators take care of us. If we face any issues they stand with us. Council members also take responsibility. If we go out of our area our parents are informed and if they phone the facilitator then they give reply in a respectful manner. We are dropped back to our houses after we come from exposure visits or camps. If anyone falls sick during the camp the children and facilitators really take care of the child.

Respectful Behaviour:

Girls and boys call each other ‘Bhai’ and ‘Ben’ which means brother and sister. They behave respectfully with each other. The facilitators always talk with us with respect. They never yell at us or insult or humiliate us.

Safe and Sensitive to Risk:

We feel safe when we come to Balsena. We are taken care of without any discrimination. We are picked up and dropped at our home when we go out of our area for any program. Our parents are also informed in this case. We are also provided with nutritious food when we go to the office for the training.


We come to Balsena because we want to. If there are any activities on the point that we do not like then we change it. Sometimes when we don’t feel like participating in some activities we are never forced to. Most of the children arrive on the point by themselves. We also design programs by ourselves. We are given options and never joined anywhere forcefully. They never threaten us.

Council Meeting:

On 2nd February and 1st March council meetings of Balsena children were held. 60 and 55 children participated in the meetings consecutively. During the meeting children discussed about reporting of activities in their point, issues that they are facing, plan for vacation camp and parents meeting. They also made a letter box for children to share anonymously if they are not able to in front of everyone for any sensitive issues.

Adolescent Girls and Boys Program:

On 2nd February T.O.T. with leaders of the teams was organized. 59 children participated in this T.O.T. on adolescence. The topic was on anger and how to manage it. Children shared about the reasons they get angry and what they could do to understand and manage it. They came up with 50 solutions to control their anger.

This topic was later conducted in 33 Balsena points by children with the help of facilitators. 621 girls and 572 boys participated in this. They also did a role-play about when and why they get angry. While discussing about the situation when they get angry, children shared that when they are punished without their fault and not being listened they get most angry.

Parents Meeting:

5 Parents meetings were organized during month of February and March in all 4 zones of Balsena and 1 centrally. 192 Parents took part in these parents meetings. Mr. Rasool was invited to speak with parents about different government schemes that they could benefit from. During the parents meeting discussed about what children are learning in Balsena and what changes do they observe in their children, about child rights and issues they are facing in the communities. Some of the parents shared their worry about their girls. We took this opportunity to inform them more on Wenlido (A personal safety tool for self-defence for women and girls) and encouraged them to send their daughters to the trainings.

One day training:

In the beginning of March we facilitated a one day training with 75 boys and 58 girls who are leaders of their team. The training was on theme of taking care of environment, problem solving, what is leadership. We also took this opportunity to spread awareness about COVID-19 and how they should take care of themselves. This training was done in groups to ensure distancing.

Holi Celebrations:

Holi is one of the favourite festival of children. It is festival of colours. Children celebrated Holi in their points. Children loved colouring each other and the facilitator. We also spoke to children about harm of chemical colours and ensured that they play without them and use less water.

Wenlido Practice groups:

Wenlido is as mentioned above a personal safety tool for self-defence for girls and women. It is our goal to train all the girls in Wenlido. So far we have trained 81% of Balsena girls in Wenlido. We recognize that one training is not enough, practicing the principles, helping girls resolve through the issue and a space where they can freely share their challenges and questions is equally important. We organize practice groups with these objectives. In the month of February we organized 7 practice groups with 3 age groups of girls. 105 girls from different communities took part in these sessions.

Following are some of the things girls shared with us and what teachers and parents shared during Focused group discussions.

Meena (name changed) a 10 years old girl shared in the practice group that before the training she used to go with everyone who called her. It could be her uncles, grandfather, neighbours, etc. but now I ask them questions about where they are taking me and for how long and I also inform my parents. 

Varsha was always taught that as a girl you have to be quiet, speak in low volume and not go out alone etc. She was a very bright student and always focused on her studies only. After taking Wenlido training she realised that other skills are also necessary. She also shared with her mother about the training “I learnt something that I never learnt at school.” In the FGD with parents, her mother shared that she is so happy to see confidence is blooming in her daughter.

Teachers from one of the schools, shared that they are noticing that girls have more confidence after they took Wenlido training. Before that they couldn’t come to school alone, they always came with their parents or in an auto rickshaw. However, now that has changed and they come to school alone too. In classes also they are speaking up more and giving more answers to the questions. They have started taking their own decisions as well. 

One girl was returning from her tuition class when some of the boys of her tuition class started following her. She told this to her tuition teacher and asked for help. The teacher called the boys and scolded him. After that the boys are not harassing her anymore. 

10 years old Neha had come to Wenlido training. Once her uncle was touching her inappropriately. Neha said a firm “NO” to the uncle and also told her parents that the uncle was touching her inappropriately and she didn’t like it. Her parents supported her and her father told the uncle to not come to their house again. 

During one of the Wenlido trainings with school girls, they seeked support for two boys who bullied them in the school. We gave them more tips on how to handle bullying.  Facilitator gave the case to the childline. Childline team discovered that the situation in his house is really bad. The boy and their family members are going through family counselling. 

Focused Group Discussions:

We have conducted Focused group discussions with children, parents, teachers and Child Protection Committee members to get feedback on Balsena, what are the things they like and not like, what they have learnt and what has changed.

FGD with Children:

In the discussion with the children we found that due to Adolescent program, girls and boys now help each other instead of fighting. Boys also work at their home along with their sister without any shame or shyness. Boys also bring their sisters to point, help them increase their self-confidence and let them take leadership. Girls and boys also go to each other’s houses and parents trust them.

Adolescent girls and boys shared that if they like someone, they share it with the facilitator who guides them instead of judging them and lets them take their decision. This helps in a healthy relationship between girls and boys.

FGD with Parents and Child Protection Committee meeting:

Parents share that children don’t discriminate anyone after joining Balsena and they challenge us to change as well in this regard. After joining the Saving Bank program they understand value of saving. They share their challenges and learning with us and refuse to go to places where there are child labours or child marriage happens. They are making lots of good friends as well.

FGD with Teachers:

Teachers shared that Balsena children do not discriminate with others based on their gender, caste or religion. They have healthy relationship with the opposite gender. Balsena children teach activities they learnt to other children. If there is anything wrong or needs improving then they immediately tell us and helps find solutions too. They plan different programs, execute it and invite us as well. Girls who have taken Wenlido trainings tell us if they are facing any difficulties regarding menstruation, their home or any harassment. They ask for help. We are also witnessing that their self-confidence also rises and they give more answers in the classroom.

Response to COVID-19:

Due to COVID-19 Pandemic we closed all our field work around mid-march as per guidelines of Government. Before closing however we spent time in field to educate children on what are the thing they should do like frequent hand wash and wearing masks.

As the lockdown started around end of March, we closed our offices and started working from home. We are organizing calls with the team every day and taking the update of how they are doing. We are also taking this opportunity to learn and discover more activities, songs, stories and dances. We are also reading books and attending webinars to strengthen our concepts of education, adolescence, life skills. We are also making detailed plans for the next year especially in view to the pandemic and the lockdown. We are currently planning to work on their mental health and how to help them through self-designed learning.

Ration Kit Distribution:

People in our communities suffered a lot with the lockdown as most of them are daily wedge earner or a casual worker. They are part of the unorganized sectors. Due to the lockdown they had a hard time gathering something as basic as food. With help of Divya Bhaskar Newspaper company Shaishav distributed ration kits to 225 families in our area. Shaishav team members identified this families as the neediest.

During the distribution of ration kits we witnessed that sometimes adults would fight for the ration but children really identified who needed it the most and gave it to them even though their situations were not ideal.

Hardik was Vice President of Balsena last year. He helped in identifing names of these families in his area. As we did not have ration kits for everyone, we decided to identify the people who needed it the most. Hardik identified 10 families from his locality. During the distribution the facilitators felt that they should check before giving so if he has made any mistakes there won’t be a problem afterwards. However as the facilitator went around she found that these families were indeed the most needy. Later, facilitator spoke to Hardik’s mother and asked him to congratulate Hardik for doing wonderful work. Mother told the facilitator that Hardik was pressurised by his cousin to write down their name for the ration kit but Hardik didn’t write. When she spoke to Hardik about it, Hardik said, “He pressurised me, but I knew that they had already got one kit so I did not write their name.”

Many Balsena and Tarunsena children played a key role in identifying and distribution of ration kits in their families. They have emerged as a pillar of strength in their communities.

Calling and taking updates from children:

Mental Health of children is one of the biggest side effect of this lockdown. Our facilitators are calling all the children of Balsena where we work and getting their updates of their wellbeing. They are also finding out if their family is facing any challenges or whether children are facing any domestic violence. During the calls facilitators are also explaining the children and their family members about how to stay safe, what to do and what not to do. So far they have called around 1300 Balsena children. Most of the children are doing fine but they are tired of the lockdown and eagerly waiting for Balsena point and schools to resume. They are doing their studies and watching TV and playing around. However, girls shared that their work load has increased since they don’t go to school anymore. In the few cases where we felt the need for intervention we referred the cases to emergency helpline for children-childline. During the call facilitators also encouraged children to bring out their creativity and create stories, do paper craft or drawing, etc. Facilitators shared that in the second round of the calls many children had created new thing.

We will be continuing this until we are able to visit them in the community.

Case studies:

Ashish is from Madhiya road community. They didn’t get drinking water in his school. ‘How can I take up this issue and how do I present it?’ He asked the facilitator. With the guidance from the facilitator, he presented the issue to his school Principal and pursued it till it was resolved. Now they have drinking water in the school. Ashish and his friend Kishan also shared in Child Protection Committee meeting about road block issue in their area. It was decided that they will send petition in the Municipal Corporation. They both helped in getting signs on the petition. The issue was then presented to Municipal Corporation .This issue was then resolved.

In one of the points, a girl shared about a man who used to stare at her. She shared this with all the children at her point during adolescence girls and boys program. Some of the older boys took initiative after hearing her problem. They went and spoke to the person and solved her problem. 

When doing an activity of understanding emotions in adolescent program one boy shared that his father gets angry very fast and throws tantrums on his mother and beats her up frequently. He resolved that I will not become like my father and take out my anger on others. I will try to calm my anger through different methods. 

Motitalav is a very conservative area. Parents tell the girls not to talk to boys. Girls and boys used to fight before but now they cooperate with each other and work together. They managed to convince their parents as well. Some parents are also seeing now that it is healthy friendship so they don’t nag their children any more. 

We have been sharing about Asmi’s story in past reports. This is further update. Asmi was assulated when she was just 15 and traumatised due to this. She refused to go out of her house. After attending Wenlido training she slowly gained her confidence back and started assisting us in the Wenlido trainings. Asmi is now assisting us in all the trainings of Wenlido. She had never gone out of Bhavnagar, but now she is a full time volunteer and she is living and working with us in Aaranyak, our new project in Dediapada. She has gained her confidence back and though she is youngest other local facilitator look up to her.

May 14, 2020

Wenlido, Focused group discussions and COVID-19

Girls and boys discussing creating stories
Girls and boys discussing creating stories

Work in Aashramshalas:

We have started working with 8 Aashramshalas and 2 primary schools. 


Adolescent Girls and Boys program:  

We are working with 748 girls and 565 boys of grade 5th-9th and 11th.  We visit these Aashramshalas twice a month and spend the full day there. We divide children in smaller groups viz. 5th and 6th grade, 7th and 8th grade and further divide them in gender specific groups. For high school children, we work separately with 9th and 11th grade children in their gender specific groups. 

In past four months children learnt about physical, mental, emotional changes during adolescence, about menstruation, about gender and girls and boys are equal. They also learnt life skills like problem solving, creativity, communication and decision making.



Balmelas have been an important entry point strategy for us. Whenever we go to a new area, we conduct Balmelas with children. It could be on different themes for different age groups of children. But what is common is that it will be activity based where each and every child is actively engaged and it is a lot of fun. 

So when we start our work in the Aashramshalas, we organize Balmelas with all the children in their age appropriate groups on a variety of themes such as creativity, communication, cooperative games with lots of fun! In past four months we organized one balmela in primary school of a remote village call ‘Kanbudi’ with 105 children.


Wenlido is a feminist self-defence training for personal safety. It is done with only women and girls by women. We have three different age appropriate modules for different age groups of girls from 8 years to 19 years.

We organized two Wenlido trainings with 36 girls of Aashramshalas.

We recognize that these trainings are very important to these girls as they often face abuse in their homes, villages and even schools.


Focused Group Discussions:

During the month of March as the academic year was coming to an end we organized focused group discussions with children of Aashramshalas to get feedback on our program.

Children shared that they really look forward to us going to the school and teaching them new activities. Some of them shared that when they went home they even taught all the games to their friends and siblings in their villages.

Girls share that now they understand about menstruation better, and they know to wash and dry their menstrual piece in the sunlight. They shared that now they understand in what situations they need to be aware, take action and ask for help.

One girl of standard 9th shares, “Once these people from Shaishav came. I was thinking what new activity would they come with? They shared a puzzle in front of us- ‘Once a boy was going with his father to school. They meet with an accident, the father dies and boy is seriously injured and taken to the hospital. They call a super specialist surgeon. When the surgeon sees the patient and says, ‘this is my son!’ How is that?’ This was the puzzle, I got very confused, I thought maybe he is his uncle or grandfather of something! Then, one of my classmate shared that the surgeon was mother of the child. I was awed by this. I learnt that women could be doctors too. Now my dream is to become a doctor and help villagers.”

Both girls and boys shared that now they are helping out each other more than they were before and are able to talk to each other. They both shared that now they are getting more help from other gender.

Girls and boys of one school shared that as we involve them both in our activities together and they even sit together. One of their teachers noticed this and started doing the same. Now many teachers are following the practice.


Work in villages:

Currently we are working in 5 villages of Dediapada block with 299 children (including 161 girls and 138 boys) of age 5 to 14. Some of these are small and some are big villages. We also work in one hamlet. These villages are Sejpur, Samarpada, Pomlapada, Thapavi and Samarpada Navi Vasahat. Since all these children go to schools, we do our activities in the evening after the schools for about two hours. We visit each village twice a week. 


We did both Educational and Developmental activities. Educational activities such as maths, scientific experiments, geography of the state and the country were covered using innovative activities and Teaching Learning Materials.  We also did several Developmental activities which includes cooperative games which imbibe a sense of community, cooperation and fun, songs, stories, paper craft, drawing etc. 


Children shared that they really look forward to the activities, eagerly waiting what new things they are going to do as they wait for the staff members to come. In these villages, children and parents are experiencing such activities for the first time. So they really appreciate it a lot.


We also planned to do Focus Group Discussions to get their feedback at the end of the March, however because of COVID-19 we had to stop our work and could not do it as per our plans. 


Baseline Survey:

We conducted a Baseline survey of 5 villages mentioned above where we are working to understand more about their Socio-economic and situation and education related information of all the children from 3 to 18 years. We have conducted surveys of 641 households in 5 villages. Analysis of this survey is still under process.  We are also trying to identify child labours, non-school going children and children who are orphaned or have single parents. We are also identifying the children with disabilities. We are happy to see that so far we have not encountered any cases of child marriages.


Parents Meeting: 

We conducted a parents’ meeting in Thapavi villages with 17 parents. They shared that they are very happy that we are conducting activities in their village with their children as nobody has ever done work with these children before this. They told us that children look forward to activities and also share what they learnt when they go home. They also expressed that they would like it if we started something like a tuition class for their children in their areas. 


Meeting with the Panchayat and Visit of Mr. Ankush of UNICEF: 

Mr. Ankush , a Communication specialist from UNICEF visited Aaranyak project on 13th February, 2020. He wanted to understand more about our work and concept. He also expressed his interest in meeting with Sarpanch and Panchayat members of our villages to discuss how we could help in creating Child Friendly Panchayats with support of UNICEF. He met with 8 members of Samarpada group Panchayat and their Sarpanch. In the meeting he shared about child rights with the members and how UNICEF is looking forward to creating Child Friendly Panchayats. The panchayat members also expressed their interest in trying out the same. 


Holi Celebration:

Holi is the most celebrated festival of this tribe. They celebrate it for 5 days. Just before Holi we also celebrated it in our village points. Children really enjoyed it! They especially enjoyed playing with the facilitators. During the actual festival they use a lot of chemical colour which is very bad for skin and it also contaminates water. We took this opportunity to make them aware about this and requested to use natural and traditional colour of ‘Palash Flower.’


Covid-19: Pandemic, Lockdown and Our Work:

Since Mid-March our work in Aashramshalas and villages stopped because government guideline to not gather children due to COVID-9 pandemic. And soon it was followed by the lockdown of the country.


Thankfully in the district there were only 13 cases and out of that 12 people have recovered and one is under treatment.


The biggest challenge that the tribal people faced was not having enough food. We distributed ration kits to 267 families in 9 villages. We were able to generate financial and material support locally. Government is now providing support to families that have ration cards. However, there are around 64 families who don’t have the ration cards and are still without support. We are trying to gather support to help them.


Mental Health of children is one of the biggest side effect of this lockdown. Our facilitators are calling all the children from the villages where we work and getting their updates of their wellbeing. They are also finding out if their family is facing any challenges or whether children are facing any domestic violence. During the calls facilitators are also explaining the children and their family members about how to stay safe, what to do and what not to do. Most of the children are doing fine, however when some are not the staff members paid visit to their house as they live in the same village while maintaining social distancing.


We are organizing calls with the team every day and taking the update of how they are doing. We are also taking this opportunity to learn and discover more activities, songs, stories and dances. We are also reading books to strengthen our concepts of education. We are also making detailed plans for the next year especially in view to the pandemic and the lockdown. We are currently planning to work on their mental health and how to help them through self-designed learning.

Game for problem solving and team building
Game for problem solving and team building
Exploring the inner artist!
Exploring the inner artist!
Ration kit distribution
Ration kit distribution
Mar 18, 2020

Gandhi Mela and Adolescent empowerment TOT

Making food themselves :)
Making food themselves :)


Parents Meetings:

We organized 4 parents meetings to discuss about what their children learn in Balsena, what are the challenges we are facing like less attendance of girls, tuitions, challenges of residential camps etc. 161 parents attended the meetings.

We also encouraged them to speak with their children regularly about what they are learning in the school and Balsena.  

Meetings by Children:

Children organized meetings within their teams to discuss about vacation camp and its theme and their challenges. Then, they themselves found ways to solve the problems they are facing.

Active and Council meetings were held with agenda of reporting point activities , making newsletter, organizing vacation camp, and details about saving bank program. They also discussed issues they are facing in their point and how to solve them.

Activities by children:

Balsena children once again organized something they love: Making food themselves and eating together! In their point they held a meeting, decided what to cook, what materials they need, how they would provide for the same, divided responsibilities, etc. They made chat dishes like Bhel, Chana Masala, Bhunglaga Bateta and their other favourite dishes.

Exposure Visit:

Children of some areas visited Shishuvihar, an organization for children advocating children’s right to play. They played a lot and also saw some of the scientific experiments.

Other teams visited Victoria park which is natural reserve in the city created before India’s independence. They tried to connect with nature and learn about different plants, animals and birds.

Child Right Training and Resource Centre:

Celebration of 25 years of work in Bhavnagar:

Shaishav celebrated 25 years of work in Bhavnagar on 11th and 12 January. Balsena children participated in the event of human library and playing cooperative games with guests. During session of human library Balsena children interacted with the guest about their life stories and how Balsena has impacted their life. Children lead the session of games, they inspired the adults to bring out their inner child and play. Children and adults immensely enjoyed both the session.


Gandhi Mela:

Each year Gandhi Mela is organized by different Sarvodaya organizations (organizations based of Gandhi principles) in India. This year they invited Shaishav to organize this mela for children through games. We trained 60 girls studying to be primary teachers in one of the Sarvodaya organizations. The Gandhi Mela was held for 2 days. 1500 children participated in the Gandhi mela and experienced and understood about Gandhiji’s values in the form of games.

Aataapi Foundation:

Our long term partnership with Aataapi continues as on 15th-16th February we facilitated Leadership camp with theme of Life skills with 76 children and 9 facilitators.

Adolescent Protection and Empowerment Training of Trainers:

We have a vast experience with working with adolescent girls and boys on protection as well as physical, mental, emotional changes during puberty and life skills. We organized a Training of trainers to share our knowledge. 13 men and 21 women from 12 organization participated in this training. There will be one more phase of this training.

We started with the building our own understanding of Gender and physical, mental, emotional changes during puberty. They were then trained to do these sessions with children. They had a practice session with children as well.

Exposure visit to nature park
Exposure visit to nature park
Activities at Balsena Point
Activities at Balsena Point
Parents Meeting
Parents Meeting
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