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Jul 6, 2015

The Evolving Face Of Aasraa

Aasraa’s literacy program started more than four years ago in Dehradun’s famous Astley Hall parking lot. It wasn’t even a ‘literacy’ program then! It was about getting street children in and around Astley Hall to stop, notice and hopefully participate. The joys and struggles of the initial days have been beautifully captured in the first few blogs called the ‘Street Smart’ diaries.

To grab the attention of children, one has to use all tactics. There is the adult to child approach, the friendly approach, coaxing, emotional blackmail and the royal ignore! And back then, all of this was done to get them painting and chatting!

So much has changed over the last four years. ‘Under the mango tree’ classes have turned into proper classroom with a black-board, tables and chairs. Bare foots are now covered in snug shoes. Children who did not know how to hold a pen are going to main stream schools. Our outreach team that works tirelessly through the day trying to convince parents to send their kids to the learning centres are a happy bunch. They now see children proactively waiting on their bus routes, eagerly waiting to learn something new.

When so much as changed, we have decided to evolve the way we ‘teach’ as well. Slowly and steadily, we have welcomed a more structured approach to teaching. While informal way of teaching worked for us in the past, with passing time and the number of children increasing in classes; a more ‘structured approach’ was the need of the hour.

Our teacher’s trainer, Siya Sir, has been instrumental in bringing about the changes. Our teachers are now working on weekly ‘lesson plans’, weekly teacher’s meetings are planned to exchange information and discuss new ideas. Timely workshops are organised to bring together teachers from different centres to revise their skills and talk about best practices that can be implemented across platforms.

“Lesson planning brings about clarity of thought and streamlines the approach to teaching”, points out Siya Sir. The teachers are in agreement too, they feel that lesson planning and workshops have brought about a change in the way they approach the children.

“The teacher’s workshop has taught us to understand a child’s perspective and learn about challenges that they face while studying”, says Deepika Ramola, teacher supervisor at Shiv Sena Centre, Kanwali Road. Talking about her last big takeaway from a workshop, she quickly adds, “Associating words and letters with pictures has been a successful learning technique with the kids”.

As we step into new territories and continue our learning, we would like to say a big thanks to all of those who have supported us through our journey and relentlessly backed our endeavours. Your generous donations are helping us provide essential learning tools and much more to our children, as always.

Jun 8, 2015

Aasraa Trust Children Paint the Town GREEN

Children from our projects
Children from our projects

 

They say if you need a fresh perspective of the world around you, see it through the eyes of a child. At ‘Aasraa’, we did just that. The children of ‘Aasraa Trust’ celebrated World Environment Day with a drawing and painting competition across our 3 learning centers in the quaint valley of Dehradun, India.

It was clear to see that; lush green mountain ranges, smiling suns and flowing river streams had captured the imagination of our children. As little as five year olds were hard at work with paint brushes, sketch pens and crayons, creating their little masterpieces.

Also, as a part of an interactive session, the teachers and children discussed the importance of conserving the environment and GOing-Green. The  children pledged not to purchase food items sold in polythene bags. They described how to reuse polythene to fix leaky roofs during monsoons. Some suggested ways to turn old clothes into cloth bags for shopping. They also pledged against wasting food and towards protecting trees.

Many of our children come from families whose livelihood depends on what we call ‘waste’. It was especially heartening to see these children recommit and pledge to REDUCE, RECYCLE and RE-USE plastic and so called ‘waste materials’.

The purpose of the event was to involve the children in a creative fun filled activity which makes them aware about their responsibility towards the environment. 

Art Work - Paper Maiche Model of Earth
Art Work - Paper Maiche Model of Earth
Art Competitors!
Art Competitors!
Children From Afternoon Remedial Classes
Children From Afternoon Remedial Classes

Links:

Apr 7, 2015

Raja and his 'Seeing Eye' Akhilesh

Raja & Akhilesh
Raja & Akhilesh

Raja, 12 years old, and his little brother Akhilesh, 8 years old, have been with us for over 3 years. When they first arrived they were spending most of their days begging in and around Dehradun, little Akhilesh guiding Raja acting as his ‘seeing eye’.

It is a well-known fact that if a child has a disability their begging income increases dramatically, and sadly such children are exploited as a result. In the beginning they both came for one hour a day which slowly increased each week, during this time we trained a volunteer to start teaching Raja the basics of braille, at the same time this gave Akhilesh a break from his responsibilities to Raja and freedom to learn and play.

We tried desperately to get Raja admitted to NIVH (a local govt. institute for the blind) but to no avail, as they have strict rules that they will not give admission to any child over 5 years or under 18, a rule with reasoning which baffles us to this day. We did not give up there and finally came across ‘Sharp Memorial School for the blind’, not only does Raja now attend regular school but also his little brother Akhilesh, as they have facility for teaching the ‘seeing eye’s’ too. We cover their school fees/expenses, transport and medical needs. We are delighted with their tremendous progress!!!

Chandini the young girl from our poster video is progressing well, it has been a slow yet steady process guiding Chandini through basic literacy, with the help of computers and dedicated teachers she is now able to read basic Hindi.

Thank you all so much for your generous donations over the past few months, without which we would not be able to carry on our much needed work with the street and slum children.

 

 
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