| Jan 29, 2017
Lessons in love
Our children love speaking with Sangeeta
Thanks to your support our Balbhavan (slum community center) staff are ideally positioned to get to the heart of the issues that plague our slums and provide solutions to help build communal harmony, health, hygiene and educational attainment.
We would like to introduce you to Sangeeta who, aged 20, joined our Snehalaya English Medium School in 2013 after seeing a documentary on our work while studying a Diploma in Teacher Education. She soon became a firm favourite, teaching our 5th standard class for three years, but also proving popular and becoming a friend to children from other classes too. She won them over by building their trust, listening and learning skills through storytelling, songs and other activities which in turn improved their behaviour and concentration. As she says: “I find children respond much better to love and positive reinforcement than punishment and when they are treated in this way their results and performance improve significantly.”
She may still be young but her natural warmth and talent at bringing out the best in our children meant that when the role of Educational Coordinator came up at our Balbhavan, Sangeeta was the natural choice. The role includes supporting the 14 teachers that run evening classes and extracurricular activities across our seven slums schools to improve the education and opportunities of the children who live there. Through teamwork and seeking to understand the challenges they face she has brought the same positive attitude she took at our school to nurturing and encouraging our slum teachers and the 700 children who regularly attend their classes.
Sangeeta can often be found within the warren of lanes of our slums conducting regular surveys to check on children who are missing school and counselling them and their parents to discuss the reasons why. School visits also help her to check in on their progress and address any issues excluding them from mainstream education. Her strong interest in computing has helped her review and standardise the data we keep on our beneficiaries and improve the curriculum and exams we deliver. This includes our Balbhavan scholarship programme which allows 20 high achievers from each community to attend additional classes and take part in a test in March which will see the top scorer from each of our seven slums receive a sum of money towards their educational support.
One scholarship student is Shankar whose winning smile makes it hard to believe that he was once a non-communicative, fist-fighting trouble-maker. Our Balbhavan Project Coordinator Shabana describes meeting him: “The level of violence among young children is often suprising, even the smallest fights sees them hurling abuse and indulging in fistfights, and Shankar was no exception. I would see him sitting on his doorstep, along with a group of children or alone, staring into thin air.” The youngest in a family of three brothers, he was mischievous and invited trouble, posing difficulties for his mother and father, who earns his living by selling clothes door to door.
Shabana persuaded Shankar’s parents to send him to our Balbhavan. When he first walked in he wasn’t enthusiastic, he joined in with games but wouldn’t finish them, he interacted with others but insisted on having his own way, settling into an environment where his demands were not met was not what he wanted. Unwilling to give up on him, Shabana spent time coaxing him to take an interest in his work and channel his energy in the right direction. “Gradually, I could see a change. He began to complete his tasks and mingle with others and importantly began to learn to control his emotions and understand the importance of boundaries,” says Shabana.
One day he drew a picture of rainbow he had seen reflected in one of the dirty puddles that pepper the slum, kick-starting a previously undiscovered passion and talent for art which Shabana nurtured. He now eagerly bounds through the doors of our Balbhavan to attend art and other classes with his friends, he smiles and talks more and most importantly realises his future is much brighter with an education.
Thank you for giving us the support to invest in staff such as Sangeeta and Shabana who in turn are transforming the lives of children like Shankar.
Shankar now attends class every day
Children's day celebrations are always a hit
Our annual showcase - these kids have talent
...it's a good opportunity to dress up too!