After School Studying - Peer Learning Style
Neeharika Tummala is an in-the-field traveler for GlobalGiving for the India and Bangladesh region.
Of the 50 organizations I visited across India and Bangladesh, Ruchika will remain one of my favourites. I spent 4 days here, as I was hosted by Ruchika in Bhubaneswar and I loved every day there.Ruchika is one of GlobalGiving's oldest organizations so it was a great feeling to connect with such a respected and well established organization.
I started off my formal visit by visiting various after-school programs in different slums. Despite being in slums, all the schools were well lit and cheerful! What fascinated me the most is that the children combine traditional studying with peer learning where one child reads aloud to another child. If there are any mistakes, the other corrects and the teacher is walking around as well. This gives students confidence to practice while also owning the responsibility of correcting the other. I also saw cute little arguments of 'its not pronounced that way, its like this!' It was great to see all of the learning!
In addition to school work, Ruchika is famous for their pioneering launch of the Child Line and Women's Help Line. Both programs have been adopted by the government and will be replicated across the entire state, whereas ChildLine has already gone national. Both these programs offer 24-7 emergency support where anyone can report the case of a distressed child or woman. These women are then brought into the short term Ruchika home, right behind the office. One of the best memories I have is hanging out with the staff into the late hours of the night with a cup of tea and learning all about what they get to see and experience.
It is also almost impossible not to bond with the girls and boys at the Ruchika dorms. When the girls first ran up to me, it was because they were fascinated with a young girl travelling, speaking english and in pretty clothes. But as they braided my hair and did my nails, I got to hear their stories and realized that life is so much more complicated for them. They would tell me things like 'I'm not sure if my parents will come and get me' or 'I quit school when I was in 4th standard but I want my son to study in an english medium school. Many of the children wait while an investigation takes place and next steps are determined and Ruchika often plays a key part in that process by working closely with authorities. But despite their individual stories, the girls and boys were so uninhibited in playing me with or giving me a hug and asking me what I did that day.
On one of those four days, we had an earthquake! Minor as it was, the building shaking led to a lot of screaming and all of us running out of the building. We hung out there for several hours there that night and even though we had just had an earthquake it quickly turned into another opportunity to play! I can't think of a better space when I think of the word safehaven and Ruchika will always embody that for me.
Thank you Ruchika for teaching me so much and giving me some unforgettable memories!
Another after-school program in another slum
The 24-7 all star team for Child Line on call
Fun in the Ruchika boys dorm
Bird's Eye View of the Ruchika Playground
At the playground