Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India

by ATMA Foundation
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Support a Home for 25 Homeless Girls in India
Children enjoyed 'Kathakali' for the first time
Children enjoyed 'Kathakali' for the first time

“I never imagined that I would ever be able to understand Kathakali, let alone enjoy it!” A very excited Indraja was commenting to us, after watching a live performance of the traditional Kerala art form for 2 ½ hours straight!

The children of ATMA Gurukulam had an exciting and energising retreat at the ATMA Youth Camp, ‘Turning Point’, for 4 days during the December holidays. The camp was organised from 26th – 30th December 2018 at the Saraswathi Vidya Nikethan School at Chengamanadu, a flood-affected village, and was primarily aimed at supporting young students in flood-hit areas to overcome their trauma and build resilience. A 3-day dance festival was also organised during these days at the venue, to help the local people to relax and ease back into normal life.

The children of ATMA Gurukulam were given the opportunity to participate in the camp and the dance festival. There were sessions by expert trainers in areas like leadership, self-empowerment, goal setting and relationship building. The children also had Yoga training, games and group discussions.

The best part of the camp were the art workshops and performances. The children had the opportunity to interact with Dr Rajashree Warrier, eminent Bharatanatyam artiste, singer and writer. After watching her performance the previous day, with the accompaniment of live orchestra, the children were very excited to learn from her about the various nuances of the art form, and also about her personal journey as an artiste.

The same day, the children were also given an elaborate lecture- demonstration on Kathakali by a group of eminent artistes. For most of them, it was their first experience of this traditional art form of Kerala. That evening, the artistes gave a live full-fledged performance of Kathakali. The children were enthralled with the grace and beauty of the art, the exquisite music and the elaborate expressions. Being able to understand and enjoy something that they always thought was beyond their grasp – this gave the children a sense of great achievement and euphoria. They also greatly enjoyed the last day’s performance by Bharatnatyam artiste Ms Uma Govind.

The camp was a source of great joy and relaxation for the children – especially as many of them would go back to school in January right into the fray of board exam preparations.

On the one hand, the camp offered them great insights into self-development and achievement. On the other hand, it gave them a first-hand experience of Classical Art – its beauty, its elegance, and its ability to lift one’s soul into a realm of peace. It was their first experience of mature appreciation – a quality that will definitely help them evolve into sensitive and creative individuals.

Interaction with an eminent artiste
Interaction with an eminent artiste
'Kathakali' Lecture-Demonstration
'Kathakali' Lecture-Demonstration
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Expressing talents, learning teamwork...
Expressing talents, learning teamwork...

It was time to introduce our children to the challenges and intricacies of event management.

As part of the Leadership Development Programme for the children of ATMA Gurukulam, it was decided to conduct ‘ATMA Gurukulam Day’ on 7th October 2018. The children’s committee had a special meeting in late August, to discuss the nature of the event. Through a series of discussions and brainstorming sessions, and with occasional inputs from ATMA Volunteers, the children developed a programme – where each of them got an opportunity to express their talents or talk about themselves – their achievements, dreams and aspirations. They took the initiative in inviting their friends, teachers, relatives and neighbours. They formed themselves into task groups, with each group taking up responsibility for one particular aspect of the event – programme, reception, food, etc.

On the previous evening, a beautiful Pandal (marquee) went up in front of ATMA Gurukulam, with a small stage. The children, with bubbling enthusiasm and magnificent creativity, decorated the premises with the help of ATMA Volunteers. The ‘stage rehearsal’ of the programme went on late into the evening. C K Suresh, ATMA Foundation Director, patiently guided the young performers, giving suggestions for improvements, helping them to relax, boosting their confidence, enabling them to bring out their best on stage. By the time the rehearsals were over, all the nervousness and performance anxiety was gone, to be replaced by a cheerful excitement.

The ‘ATMA Gurukulam Day’ dawned bright and sunny, in spite of an ‘orange alert’ for severe rainfall that had given some anxiety to the people of our recently flood-hit state. The Gurukulam was abuzz with activity, the children going about their assigned ‘duties’, dressing up, helping others dress, redoing decorations, taking last minute rehearsals... As the fear of rain was dispelled by the bright morning sun, the guests started arriving, and the first ATMA Gurukulam Day was inaugurated by lighting the traditional lamp.

Over 200 people attended the programme. The children donned the organiser role with great joy. The reception team welcomed the guests, gave them a welcome drink, talked to them and showed them around the Gurukulam. The programme management team arranged the venue and coordinated the stage programmes according to the previously prepared schedule. One of the senior girls was the MC. The food committee coordinated the lunch arrangements – they managed the queues in the serving and washing areas and ensured that everyone was properly seated and served well. The children also gave their stage presentations with sincerity and confidence. 3 children gave performances – in Music, Mono-act and Yoga. The others each talked about a particular aspect of ATMA Gurukulam which had created maximum impact in them, what they had learnt, and how they were changing.

Friends, teachers and relatives, when invited to offer felicitations, expressed their immense appreciation for the children of ATMA Gurukulam – their health, their elegance, their friendliness, their readiness to help, their initiative, their confidence, their diligence, their intelligence – the list was indeed long!

For the children, it was a day of joy, and a golden opportunity to showcase their abilities, challenge their limits, and learn some new lessons in management. As for the ATMA team, we revelled in the glory of their achievement – another ‘proud parent’ moment that our children so often surprise us with! It was also a moment of reflection – even as we felt proud of our work with the children, we were humbled by the speed and quality of their transformation!

Every volunteer who was part of the ‘ATMA Gurukulam Day’ went home with renewed commitment to this beautiful work.

Concluding the celebrations with a homely lunch
Concluding the celebrations with a homely lunch
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To fall in love with reading...
To fall in love with reading...

 

“How do we improve their English?” We, the tutors and mentors at ATMA, have asked this question among ourselves so many times.

English is a challenge for all the girls at ATMA Gurukulam. Hailing from difficult backgrounds, the girls have received very little academic support in their early years. With parental neglect and poor physical health, even their brain development is affected, leading to situations like learning difficulties and scholastic backwardness.

At ATMA Gurukulam, we have a comprehensive academic support plan – we start from the beginning, and tutor every child individually, allowing her to learn and grow at her own pace. Our special educator, Ms Sreedevi Haridas, spends time with each child, patiently guiding her through the nuances of the three R’s.

Most of our girls follow Malayalam medium in school till tenth or twelfth standards. But for higher education, English fluency is a must.

This year, when school reopened in June, we decided to give special focus to English. We were blessed with the support of two very good English teachers - Smt Raji P and Smt Sakhi. Both of them now come once a week, and give personal and group training sessions in essential English. It was an added joy when Ms Abhirami, post graduate student of the renowned English & Foreign Languages University Hyderabad, volunteered with us for a month, giving daily lessons to all children.

Then came the books!

Inner Wheel Club of Trichur organised a poster-making event for the Gurukulam children on August 15th, Independence Day. With a piece of white paper and a set of poster colours, creativity bloomed!

At the end of 2 fun hours of painting and slogan making, every child was given a gift – a beautiful book to read and cherish!

The books had been carefully chosen by Ms Vidya Sanjay, with inputs from our team, according to the reading levels and capacities of each child. They were colourful, simple, and came in all shapes and sizes! And of course, they were all in English. The book distribution became a real festival! The children were excited, and suddenly, to their joyful hearts, English seemed a little friendlier. Their cheer has inspired Ms Vidya, a Chartered Accountant by profession, and an avid book lover, to volunteer for a weekly reading session.

And now, slowly, our children are learning to fall in love with reading. True, Gurukulam is a little untidy these days – you can see books scattered on the tables, on the beds – you might even catch one on a kitchen shelf! But we have learnt not to notice. Because we know that, soon, a young mind will return to it, eager to complete the half-read story, ready to take off into a different world - all the while, unknowingly learning.

Learning a language is an uphill task. Magic will not happen in a day. We know. But, slowly, consistently, when our children tread the path into the world of reading, one day, THEY WILL.

 

A Gift Forever!
A Gift Forever!
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Celebrating our children's success
Celebrating our children's success

ATMA Gurukulam – Enabling achievements, empowering dreams!

“I got an A+ in all 10 subjects?!” Chinchina couldn’t believe it when we told her the 10th Std results. Nor could Sangeetha, our Teacher- Volunteer who has been her academic mentor and teacher at ATMA Gurukulam for the last three years! And then, the children burst into a chaotic victory dance to celebrate her success!!

For all of us at ATMA Foundation, it was a moment of parental pride, a spot of glory. Our child had done it – went ahead and achieved that Perfect 10 – a dream that every secondary school student in Kerala aspires for.

Chinchina came to us after her 7th Std, a timid student with no idea of her own strengths. ‘Forget the past, and look towards the future’, we told her - the standard instruction given to every child who steps into the loving fold of ATMA Gurukulam Children’s Home. And that is exactly what she did. Every day, in every way, she was improving. With regular mentoring support from our founder - director C K Suresh, an expert counsellor and performance coach, she gained confidence and clarity. The camps and workshops she attended as part of our personality development programmes gave her greater exposure, drawing her out, enabling her to express her potential. Extra academic support from our teacher volunteers helped her to improve her basics in all subjects. Surrounded by a multitude of children’s magazines in English and Malayalam, her reading and language skills improved. She participated in sports at school – she was part of the Kho-kho team. She loved the dance classes and the craft classes at ATMA Gurukulam – and went ahead to win a dance scholarship from Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, and represent her school in the State Art & Craft Exhibition for two years straight.

And now, with her 10th std results, she has proved that she is ready to go ahead and forge her own success story. She is an inspiration to the other children at ATMA Gurukulam, who, too are getting ready to craft their own.

Anumol, another of our 10th std aspirants this year, surprised even herself when she cleared the math paper that she thought impossible – she had to learn a full 10 years’ worth of math in the one year that she was with us! Jayapriya completed her 12th std with an A+ in 4 out of 5 subjects, and has joined a degree programme. Chaitanya cleared her 12th std with a 100% marks in Sanskrit, the subject in which she has opted to do higher studies.

And for the last two months, the children have had an active holiday season – they attended a lecture-demo in Mohiniyattam, 2 workshops on self empowerment and a tinkering lab. They had many outings, and they celebrated Book day with student interns of ATMA Foundation. They had special sessions in English, Hindi, value education, dance and embroidery. They have also picked up pace on their general reading and daily yoga practice.

As we revel in the success and progress of our children, we are also grateful to them – for proving us right in believing in them, and in others like them – children who hail from challenging backgrounds, with no place to call home, and no means to chase their dreams.

We are thankful to all our donors and volunteers who have believed in us, in turn –without your support, none of this would have been possible. And many thanks to Global Giving, for enabling us to reach out across the globe to seek help!

Now, we are taking up the bigger challenge of expanding this project – to develop a residential facility for 150 children – boys and girls. The ATMA Gurukulam is currently functioning in a leased building with limited infrastructure. We have started the efforts to acquire sufficient land to build the new homes with better facilities.

We seek continued support from our donors to realise this dream.

Even as we strive with this uphill task, in the horizon we can see the smiles of hundreds of children like Chinchina, whose eyes would be shining with the joy of success, and the promise of a bright future.

Let us make this happen.

Accolades from all around
Accolades from all around
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Organization Information

ATMA Foundation

Location: Thrissur, Kerala - India
Website:
ATMA Foundation
Suresh C K
Project Leader:
Suresh C K
Thrissur, Kerala India

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