Feb 19, 2019

Planning Ahead

New Training Room being readied
New Training Room being readied

As one academic year draws to a close, we at OBLF are busy planning ahead for the next one. Year before last we expanded our operations by 150% - from covering 1000 rural kids to 2500! But last year we could increase our impact only marginally, to cover about 3000 children. This was not due to a lack of intention, but because we hit a bottleneck in getting more rural ladies to join our program as Coordinators, to teach the kids we serve.

During the site visit of the Global Giving representative Adam Cross of UK, we had in-depth discussions on all aspects of our operations. Arising out of that, we had a very focused meeting with our Senior Coordinators (rural ladies who have been with us for over 6 years), our Program Supervisors, two of our Trustees, along with our Program Manager and Director, to chalk out a plan to get more rural ladies to join our program.

The excellent ideas that came from our Senior Coordinators really amazed us and consequently, we got connected to the President of the local women’s group (Stree Shakti) in the area, the President of the Government school Teachers’ Association of that local area, the local cable operator who telecasts all local events and took many other small steps, which led to almost 30 new ladies joining our program.

Our current weekly training program is conducted in 3 different batches at the Lakshmisagara government school, where they have been kind enough to give us 2 rooms for the purpose. However, with the coming of the new ladies, these rooms were not adequate for us. We therefore started training the two new batches at two different training centres – one in another government school (thanks to our new local contacts), and another at the house of our Lead Coordinator Swapna. Two of our Senior Coordinators started training the new batches till such time we got two new excellent volunteers – Simi and Anahita.

Swapna has been kind enough to let us put up a portable pre-fabricated structure on her terrace, which is now being readied as our new Training Room. We appreciate Swapna’s loyalty and commitment to OBLF.

Sr, Coordinator Baby training the new ones
Sr, Coordinator Baby training the new ones
Volunteer Simi taking over the training
Volunteer Simi taking over the training
Nov 26, 2018

In-depth Evaluation by GlobalGiving

In September, 2018, Adam Cross, a representative of GlobalGiving, spent 4 full days with us, evaluating in depth, the working of our organization. He met and had discussions with the beneficiaries, the staff, the management and the Trustees. Detailed discussions with him also provided us with insights into our own strengths, and the areas where we need to improve. Here are some comments from the GlobalGiving Report –

“OBLF has a highly effective model for improving educational outcomes amongst
students at government schools. The organisation’s grassroots
approach, training rural women to work in their local communities,
combined with the custom-made syllabus and innovative teaching
methods, enables it to create lasting impact.

OBLF’s strengths lie in its innovativeteaching programme, strong board of trustees and close networks ofsupporters, amongst other things. A number of feedback loops arealso embedded across the organisation enabling staff to continuouslyimprove their work, and an open culture facilitates an adaptiveapproach to meeting local need. The organisation has strong internalprocesses, with good financial management, investment in trainingand robust governance practices in place.

The key to its growth lies largely in overcoming the challengeof recruiting additional coordinators.”

Adam had many good suggestions, and a few of them were implemented by us even before we got the final report from GlobalGiving! Our biggest challenge, as mentioned above, is recruiting more Coordinators (rural ladies). After brain-storming with Adam, we formed a committee of a couple of Trustees, some senior Coordinators and management – with very satisfactory outcomes.

We are truly grateful to GlobalGiving for providing us this opportunity and to Adam for being such a patient and effective evaluator.

Sep 14, 2018

Celebrating Merit

A song on their lips
A song on their lips

The month of August at OBLF is a month to celebrate merit. Every year, we give prizes to our merit children of each of our adopted schools, and of each of our 4 levels. This year too saw a fun-filled day of Prize giving, and of course our children proudly showed off their English language skills by putting up a wonderfully inspiring show amidst simple surroundings of a rural school.

This year we gave cash prizes of Rs.2,500/- to the 1st ranked, Rs.1,500/- to the 2nd and Rs.1,000/- to the 3rd ranked Senior level children. The 1st ranked children of the Middle, Junior High and Junior levels got Rs.1,000/- each, whereas the 2nd and 3rd ranked children of these levels got interesting English story books.

The children sang rhymes and songs for the parents and other guests and put up 2 funny skits which were appreciated by the audience. Our rural Coordinators were not to be left behind, and they too sang 2 English songs to entertain our guests. Lunch was served to the children and all present. Please do spare 15 minutes to view the skits and song. 

This year, due to logistical reasons, we had to drop 6 of the schools we had worked with last year, but we adopted many more, to increase the total number of schools to 48 rural government primary schools, impacting over 2700 rural children.

Skit - The Milkman's Cow
Skit - The Milkman's Cow
Skit - The Magistrate of Malawi
Skit - The Magistrate of Malawi
Rural Coordinators' Song
Rural Coordinators' Song
Celebrating Merit
Celebrating Merit
An Appreciative Audience
An Appreciative Audience

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