Oct 27, 2015

Aarohi Bal Sansar: Progress Report 2015 (Part 1)

Deepak, our Sports Teacher
Deepak, our Sports Teacher

In the last report, we shared with you, the annual review, which detailed the progress of Aarohi Bal Sansar and the Scholarships Program for the year ending 31st March 2015. The goals outlined for the short-term included building teacher capacities, laying greater emphasis on sports and outdoor activities, continuing to focus on music, dance and art as an important part of the curriculum and improving interaction with the families of the students and community at large. We also planned to introduce an individual monitoring mechanism for students and teachers. In the medium term, we identified five areas to improve on our learning outcomes, namely effective lesson planning by teachers, differentiation in order to address multiple learning levels in each class, developing better reading habits of children and teachers, inclusion of creative teaching methods and continuously improving infrastructure to aid academic and extracurricular learning. We also planned to explore opportunities to integrate vocational learning as a discipline within the curriculum. Finally, we sought to introduce a structured mentoring program for teachers.


Progress Highlights (April to June 2015)

The progress made in the last quarter, against the short-term and medium term goals is as follows:

Short term: 

Sports and Outdoor Activities

The 2nd annual Aarohi Kumaon Himalaya Ride took place between 3rd and 5th April 2015,

through which riders from around the world raised over INR 260,000 (approx. GBP 2,600). The funds help Aarohi pay better salaries to their teachers, bring e-learning curriculum to a rural school like Aarohi Bal Sansar, hire a dedicated sports teacher and much more. We hired a new sports coach Deepak, who joined us in April this year. Deepak has successfully carried out intensive sports training of students from Class 3 to 8 in athletics (long jump, running, javelin etc.), Kho-Kho, Kabaddi, Volley Ball, and Cycling. Awareness on diet has been given special emphasis, as a result of which children are now bringing more wholesome carbohydrate and protein rich food in their tiffin boxes. Monthly sports rallies (intra-school sporting competitions) are being organised to prepare children to part-take in sports at the State level. In addition, we have also been working closely with youth in the region, as a result of which the strength of the youth group has grown from 120 to 170 in a short span of three months. Of these, 80 boys and 60 girls have been successfully trained in cycling in preparation for next years Kumaon Himalaya Ride.

Music, Dance and Culture

In addition to Kumaoni folk dance, the teachers have also been introducing folk dance and music from other parts of India. Rajasthani folk dance was taught to Classes 3, 4 and 5. For Class 6, the curriculum focused on drama as majority of the children were interested in theatre. ‘Bihu’ which is an Assamese folk dance, as well as Bhangra (Punjab), and Dandiya (Gujarat) were taught to class 7 and 8. In theory, topics of Kumaoni traditional architecture, food, and attire were introduced wherein traditional practices and their practical value were discussed with the children. In Music, children learnt and performed Kumaoni and Garwali folk dance forms such as Jhoda Chapali, Hudkiya, Bol, Chaiti, Choliya, Tandi, Jhumelo etc.

Student and Teacher Monitoring

While we are still working on consolidating our databases for individual student monitoring, we have made good head way in laying down the foundation for monitoring and nurturing teacher progress and growth. Together with our mentors we have prepared a detailed evaluation form which will be used from now on for half yearly appraisals. The form comprises a comprehensive list of categories including lesson plan, materials used, methodology, remedial work, self-development etc. Further, each category is scored separately. This has been done to ensure that the evaluation process is as transparent and as objective as possible. This is one small step towards our commitment to invest in teacher capacity building and how we are proud that ALL our teachers are local. 

Medium term: 

The Reading initiative

 We are now instituting processes where reading or 'engaging with text' is a pivotal element of pedagogy at ABS. The aim is to expose the children to as much English reading (and as a result better vocabulary and comprehension) this academic year. Some steps taken towards this end were:


  • Revamping the Library: Three wonderful volunteers helped us revamp our library. Madhu Upadrasta, an experienced librarian in a school in Mumbai, volunteered to be Beena’s mentor, our new librarian, and nurtured this young local lady into learning all about managing and maintaining a school library during her visit to Satoli in April. Gina Ali Khan, the English subject mentor, brought us a big suitcase, full of books donated by her school in Pune, MBIS. Another volunteer, Asmita Joshi, worked tirelessly with Beena and Gina to help catalogue all the books. We now, also have class libraries in addition to the main library since we have this elaborate catalogued collection of books! Thanks to the help and guidance from Madhu, Gina and Asmita and the on-going efforts of Beena, Aarohi school can now boast of a wonderful library, one of its kind in the area.


  • Staff Volunteering:The office staff have started volunteering by taking reading sessions twice a week with classes 3 to 5. A record of the books read and new words learnt are being maintained and shared with teachers, so that they can be practiced in their regular classes. “I have been reading to class five for a little over six weeks now and it has been great fun! The kids and I both look forward to the class. Many a time, I drift off from the story into other discussions, and I find that the activity is a fun way of familiarising children with English and sustaining their interest in the language.”  Dr. Puneet Singh


‘Gift a Smile’ collaboration with Amazon

 Aarohi Bal Sansar received its first package of books, DVDs, paints and stuffed toys as part of Amazon’s ‘gift a smile’ campaign’.

 These are being used to make classroom activities more interesting for the children. The books are also serving as a useful resource for teachers to help improve their English language skills.


Staff Mentoring Programme

The biannual Steering Committee Meeting was held in June 2015, in which teachers presented the progress made on various fronts and sought feedback from the committee members. A major outcome of the meeting was the decision to expand the staff mentoring program from English to include subjects of Hindi and Mathematics as well. Mr. Mohan Kabadwal, a retired state school Hindi teacher based in our village was appointed as the Hindi mentor, while Ms. Smriti Sharma, an experienced educationist based in Delhi has been appointed as the mentor for Mathematics. Mentors are approachable and experienced individuals who play an important role in guiding ABS teachers in day-to-day challenges they face



We now have consolidated data for scholarships (for students and teachers) offered by Aarohi since the inception of the program in 1997. A total of INR 8,211,568 has been invested in 925 students between 1997 and 2015.


Once again, we thank all of you donors for having faith in our capabilities to bring quality education to the young children of rural Kumaon.

Asmita Joshi, a volunteer, with ABS teachers
Asmita Joshi, a volunteer, with ABS teachers
New Library
New Library
Kamla, Vimla and Deepa with books from Amazon
Kamla, Vimla and Deepa with books from Amazon
Kamla being mentored by Mohan Masterji
Kamla being mentored by Mohan Masterji
Oct 20, 2015


Growth monitoring in the village
Growth monitoring in the village

Dear friends,

We are happy to give you an update on our community health work for the period May to July 2015. It has been a hectic 3 months while we have expanded our work to include all 105 villages covering a population of approximately 50,000 people in the Okhalkanda Block of Nainital District in Uttarakhand.

Do read on to learn more.

Should you have any questions or suggestions on the review please do write to me at sushil@aarohi.org 

On behlaf of all of us at Aarohi we thank you for your continued support in helping bring better health opportunities to the communities of rural Uttarakhand.

With gratitude and good wishes to all of you,






                               REDUCE INFANT & MATERNAL MORTALITY IN THE HIMALAYA: May- July 2015

Community health

Our community health project has now expanded to a total of 105 villages in the Okhalkanda Block of Nainital District of Uttarakhand. A remote, mountainous zone in the Himalayas, its greatest issue is access to reliable, timely and ethical health care delivery systems. The community is mired in the cycle of poverty and ignorance and public health care delivery systems are indolent and their private counterparts exploitative.

Achievements & Highlights

  • Revival of VHSNCs: 68 Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committees (VHSNCs) were identified out the 70 project villages. We revived these VHSNCs by organizing meetings of their members. Prior to these meetings, members did not know that they were part of the VHSNC, and were unaware of their roles and responsibilities. Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and ASHA facilitators prepared the list of members and forwarded it to the concerned senior authority.
  • We started systematic training of VHSNC members on their roles and responsibilities. As a result, some of the VHSNCs have undertaken new initiatives. Some of these are as follows:
  • ANM appointment: An Auxilary Nurse Midwife (ANM) was appointed in the sub-centre of Kalaagar, where the post had been vacant for the last 6 months. This was achieved by bringing the issue to the notice of the VHSNC and guiding the members who formally pushed the matter with the CMO.
  • ASHA recruitment: In Matela and Goniyaro villages, the VHSNC recruited an ASHA in each village after the meeting. This post had been vacant for approximately 1 year.
  • We have now started conducting collective activities during the Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND), such as Antenatal Care (ANC), growth monitoring; Matru Samuh meetings - counseling on hygiene, contraceptives, food etc. Earlier, in VHND, Anganwadiworkers distributed only THR (Take Home Ration).
  • Coordination with the block level government system: After formal discussion with the Block Coordinator of the National Health Mission (NHM) Okkhalkanda, we decided that we would share monthly data with each other on a regular basis. In doing so, we expect the quality and authenticity of data to improve over time. .
  • We started decentralised trainings for ASHAs and Dais (Traditional Birth Attendants). Through this, we are saving on travel time of participants and trainers are able to give more one-to -one attention to participants by working in smaller groups.
  • Two exposure visits were conducted for school children for their personality development. A total of 74 school children participated.
  • A women’s bathroom was constructed in Kalagar village. As a common cultural practice, menstruating women are subject to many restrictions within the household, including having to bathe and look after their sanitation needs outdoors and in the dark. The newly built bathroom will enable women of the village to bathe safely during menstruation. The local community was actively involved in the construction of the bathroom, and has taken responsibly for its maintenance.    
  • The supply of Iron Folic Acid (IFA) was not regular for the last year. With the help of a Zila Panchayat member, we raised the issue of intermittent supply to the CMO,Nainital. As a result, the government began supply of IFA to ANM centres immediately.
  • We started conducting meetings with local government ANMs (Auxilliary Nurse Midwives) to ensure improvement in services and greater collaboration.
  • A 5-year extension for use of the MMU (Medical Mobile Unit) has been obtained by the State Government. This MMU benefits approximately 600-700 patients every month and has brought ultrasound and good antenatal care to many pregnant women in our community heath project area.
  • Placing a senior volunteer Swiss midwife in PHC (the government Primary Health Centre) Okhalkanda for 4 months enabled local nurses to implement better birthing practices under the NHM.
  • We have achieved 100% coverage of the Smokeless Chullah programin Dewali village, which has a population of 25 households. Till date, 21 households have installed the chullah in their homes. On 17th September, a meeting was organized, in which the remaining 4 households agreed to install the smokeeless chullah in their houses. A total of 341 chullahs have been constructed over the past 2 years. 98% of these are in use and the users are extremely happy with this addition to their houses, bringing the comfort of a smoke free use and also reducing the consumption of wood by approximately 50%, thus significantly reducing the drudgery of women.
  • Water testing and purification at household level                                                                           We are procuring water testing kits from TARA Life Sustainability Solutions Pvt. Ltd, an ISO certified company known for manufacturing, distributing and supplying a wide range of the premium quality of water testing kits and check vials. We are currently using H2S test kits named TARA aquacheck vial, which can test the presence of pathogenic bacteria (colifrom bacteria) in water that causes common water borne diseases. Supervisors test water from the common source with the help of this kit.                                    Forty five out of 48 or 94% of water sources were found faecally contaminated.This brings out the enormity of the problem of the existence of water borne diseases in the region and the need for a sustained campaign to rectify this issue.                                                    
  • In Jhargaon Talla, chlorination of the village’s drinking water CWR (Clear Water Reservoir) was successfully carried out.



                                                                 Maternal and Child Health Statistics


Currently pregnant women                                                                              853

Total pregnant women given care over three month period

     (currently pregnant+ live births+abortion+sb)                                            319


Abortions                                                                                                         8 (0.9%)

Deliveries                                                                                                        151

Live births                                                                                                       150 (99.3%)

Still births                                                                                                        2 (1%)

Institutional deliveries                                                                                      52 (34%)

Home deliveries                                                                                               99 (66%)

Deliveries conducted by Aarohi trained TBA                                                   55 (55.5%)

Low birth weight                                                                                              11 (7.3%)

Maternal Deaths                                                                                              None



Neonates breastfed within 30 minutes (indicator to hasten 3rd stage labour)   122 (82.6%)

Neonates breastfed within 24 hours (for baby)                                                 148 (98.6%)



Eligible couples                                                                                                  10,638

Eligible couples using contraceptives                                                                1,753 (16.4%)



Children 0-6 months                                                                                          703

Children 0-5 years                                                                                            10,219

Infants 0-6 months exlusively breastfed                                                            610 (87%)

Children 0-5 years                                                                                            10,219

Children 0-5 years monitored for growth                                                 


Jun 11, 2015

The Annual Review 2014-2015

Dear All, 

I present to you our Annual Review for the year 2014-2015. In addition to the education initiative, you'll read about our other initiatives in health and livelihoods as well. All your donations for year have been utilised for our school and related expenses. In the report you'll also get more information about our finances and learn that our education initiavte experienced the largest rise in expenses!! No wonder the year just flew by and so much has happened. The coming year will see more focus on teacher capacity building and exposure, and strengthening of our volunteering program. 

I hope you enjoy reading the review. Should you have any questions or suggestions please do not hesitate to write to me directly at sheeba@aarohi.org. 

On behalf of all of us at Aarohi, I thank you for your continued support in bringing quality education to the children of rural Kumaon Himalayas. 

with gratitude,


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