Oct 20, 2015

Mainstreaming children into schools

SGRR students attending the after school program
SGRR students attending the after school program

In the last report, we shared an update about Chandni. This time, we bring you a video update of Chandni speaking about her journey till date. Please follow the below given link to see the video. 

The Street Smart program started with 4 street children and 3 teachers on the pavements of Dehradun. In the past 6 years, we have initiated close to 1000 children into education and have successfully mainstreamed 180 children into fulltime schools. This year our first batch of rag picking children were admitted into an English medium school for a better chance at education. This batch of 18 students (10 girls) were very excited to study in a new school but also sad about leaving their old school friends and teachers behind.  The new school has brought with it new possibilities and also challenges. The children are learning a new language as all their subject matter is now in English. We have dedicated an English teacher for after school support along with a Maths teacher. The kids are learning to read their English books through phonetics and now have a better understanding of the content as well.

Recently, we noted a slump in their attendance in school. On enquiry, we got to know some of our children were being bullied in school. They were being called, ‘Kabadi’(rubbish) and faced discrimination. During counselling, they were told to take pride in their work and tell their new classmates that yes, they are rag pickers and this occupation feeds their whole family. They were told to ask their classmates if they ever provided for their families. That did the trick. Our kids have many more friends now!

With every little win comes a little setback but we will keep powering through the hurdles. It is important to not lose sight of the bigger goal. Our big goal is to see our kids regularly attending school. We see them acing their tests. We see them being the first in their family to graduate school and college. We see them writing their names with pride and living a life of dignity.

Thank you everyone for contributing towards the welfare of our children for which we cannot thank you enough. We urge more people to join our cause. Currently, 40 of our children are waiting to be mainstreamed and are in need of sponsorships.  Join us in giving them an opportunity to attend school but more than that give them HOPE. A hope for a brighter future…


Aug 3, 2015

An Update on Chandni

Chandni attending mainstream school
Chandni attending mainstream school

Aasraa Trust discovered Chandni begging on one of Dehradun’s busiest intersections six years ago.After many months of counselling, she joined our Street Smart program with the lure of a bath, a meal and an education. After almost two years of ABCs and 123, Chandni was deemed fit to start formal education at a local government residential school supported by Aasraa Trust in 3rd grade. Besides education, we felt the need to give Chandni her independence back, so we had a special prosthetic leg made for her by an Australian gentleman called Mr. Pete Farrand.

Today, Chandni is in 5th grade, she can read and writes her name with great pride. She walks around her school campus comfortably and likes to play games with other girls.  She enjoys reading Hindi and solving Maths questions.

Chandni’s parents, who are daily wage laborers, are proud of her achievements. They once thought she deserved to be a beggar just because she was differently abled. Thankfully, with her determination Chandni has proved them wrong and has forced them to change their opinion.

Her friends describe her as a sociable girl who believes in sharing; she is the same Chandni who was too possessive about her belongings and would carry her small bag everywhere few years back.

Chandni’s teacher, warden and confidant, Ms. Sangeeta Joshi says, “She would cry and fall asleep during her classes in the initial days of joining school, and today she is sincere in her schoolwork and completes her classwork and homework with dedication & diligence.”

She is a gifted composer of her own music and lyrics which she remembered until now by memory as she was illiterate. We are happy she can read and write; maybe she will record her own album one day!

Chandni has gone beyond just looking out for herself. Not only is she is independent and well organized in her school work but she has taken over a big sisters responsibility for junior students in the hostel.

Chandni is constantly described as a model student by her peers and teachers, a girl who is exemplary. But more importantly this little girl is a lesson for the rest of the world- ‘Everyone deserves a second chance.’

 A lot has changed in the life of Chandni in the last few years but her radiant smile remains… ALL THANKS TO THE SUPPORT OF OUR DONORS.

Chandni attending Street Smart program
Chandni attending Street Smart program
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.

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