Education
 India
Project #11908

School to School - Connect Urban & Rural Children

by GOONJ
Girl child with the kit material
Girl child with the kit material

Goonj..'s School to School (S2S) initiative targets the urban as well as the rural children. The urban children learn the importance of recycling resources which would otherwise reach the dumping grounds and feel empowered by helping a child their age get back to school. The rural child is provided the supplies as an award and not charity. This helps improve the involvement in class (involvement and attendance), reduces drop out rate from school and improves general hygiene (cleanliness) and increase their self confidence.

School Kits play an important role under S2S to motivate children to attend school regularly & helps in bringing back children who have dropped out of school.The School Kit mainly comprises of a school bag, seating mat, bottle cover, vegetable bag, pencil pouch, belt, towel, skipping rope/ball, cap and scarf. Children of brick kiln factories recited poems and sang songs and importance of regularly attending the Non-Formal Education (NFE) centres was conveyed to them as well. For taking part in the activities, 145 children in different brick kiln factories attending five NFE centres namely Maitri, Pradnya, Karuna, Jigyasa and a new centre were provided with school kits as a reward.

Children with school Kits..
Children with school Kits..
Happy & Excited to play with the ball..
Happy & Excited to play with the ball..
Children performing activities..
Children performing activities..
Reciting poems..
Reciting poems..
Child performing an activity..
Child performing an activity..

Links:

Girls excited with their School Kits!
Girls excited with their School Kits!

Under Goonj's School to School initiative, School Kits play a significant role in motivating children to attend school regularly and thereby reduces drop out rate. The School Kit mainly comprises of a school bag, seating mat, bottle cover, vegetable bag, pencil pouch, belt, towel, skipping rope, cap and scarf. Children performed action songs & dance, recited poems and also took part in games. Children were also guided on the importance of maintaining hygiene, regularly attending schools and also about being self-disciplined. For taking part in the same, 139 children attending Zilla Parishad schools in Dongergaon, Budhehal, Goudvadi, Pachegaon and Kole in Sangola block, Solapur District and 305 children attending Zilla Parishad schools in Dahigaon, Bhospada, Ambivali, Kelichapada, Vazar and Thakurpada received School Kits. 

Children happy with all the school materials..
Children happy with all the school materials..
Performing Activities...
Performing Activities...
Children singing a group song..
Children singing a group song..
Proudly wearing their School Bags!
Proudly wearing their School Bags!
Ready to play with their balls!
Ready to play with their balls!

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Children enthusiastic to explore school kit!
Children enthusiastic to explore school kit!

Under Goonj..'s, S2S initiative 335 children in primary & middle government schools in Satna, Madhya Pradesh participated in a physical training program while children were also guided on the importance of maintaining hygiene and self-discipline. A quiz was conducted on lessons learnt in school and general knowledge questions. Goonj School Kits comprising a school bag, seating mat, bottle cover, vegetable bag, pencil pouch, belt, towel, skipping rope, cap and scarf were given to all the participating children.

Through S2S, Goonj.. offers cost effective, easily replicable & unique solution to problem faced by resource starved village & slum schools by reaching underutilized materials from senstized urban children not as charity but as reward for behavioral changes.

Wearing their school bags...
Wearing their school bags...
Awareness session in progress!
Awareness session in progress!
Skipping to heart
Skipping to heart's content!
Children carrying out exercises..
Children carrying out exercises..
Children with their school kits...
Children with their school kits...

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Children happy to play with toys...
Children happy to play with toys...

Many people and organizations are working in the education sector and bringing about some amazing impact, yet some gaps remain…This story is about one such gap and our experiments with material around this challenge. 

Playing with paper boats in water puddles is a favorite sport of children.. but when the same water engulfs the homes and lives which provide them a familiar comfort, does their precious innocence get lost somehow in all the disaster relief work? This story is about how material added a soothing touch to children traumatized by a devastating disaster.

The Bihar floods way back in 2008 weren’t floods actually.. Flooding means the river water overflows into the land areas and then recedes after some time.. In Bihar the Kosi river actually changed its course and started flowing on a different path, drowning many areas which had never seen a flood before. The water in Supaul, Araria, Saharsa, Madhepura, Khagaria, Bhagalpur and Purnea districts did not retreat for months resulting in widespread hunger and disease. The worst affected were children, who usually go silent at such times, unable to express their trauma. For them the relief needs to go beyond just food and shelter, it needs to connect them back to their childhood innocence. After extensive relief work we couldn’t help noticing the blank eyes and expressions of children in many villages we visited. This became the genesis of Chehak Centers, started solely to nurture the innocence of children in tough times. 

‘Chehak’ in Hindi means the chirping of the young ones. The first Goonj Chehak centre started near a railway line where some kids gathered. We wanted to create a stress and trauma free space for the flood hit children and to introduce learning and basic behavioral aspects to children who had never been to a school before. It was also timely for the parents who were busy rebuilding their lives and homes. 

We opened 16 Chehak centers across Bihar. We first planned to run these centers for 2 months, until the water receded but instead ran them for more than 2 years. The centres were filled with toys and other recreational material while in the initial months we hired and paid for local teachers and provided all the material for the children. 

This story though is not about the brick and mortar centers that we created, it is about the lives of the children who came there and the people who made it happen…

14 years old Kiran from Badhgaon, Saharsa (Bihar) would probably be tagged as a problem child in a city school.. She was frequently found in everyday fights, using foul language.. generally a terror and a headache for her parents, neighbors and peers. When the GOONJ team motivated Kiran to join a Chehak centre, initially everyone at the center had problems with her behavior. Over the course of time we noticed a marked improvement and changes in her behavior. Kiran eventually turned out to be one of the most sincere and bright students at the center; well behaved, disciplined and a role model to many. With pride her mother would share about the changes in Kiran’s personality and her focus on studies. From a nuisance to a role model Kiran’s journey has been an inspiration and learning for all of us. 

Like most things we do, the Chehak Centers also emerged as a result of active participation and ownership of the local communities. Not only did people pro actively work for making these centres, they also contributed by giving land, soil, bamboo to doing shramdaan (voluntary labor). Many abandoned structures were turned into Chehak centres under Goonj’s Cloth for Work (CFW) initiative. After heavy rains, people came forward to repair the Chehak centres even before repairing or rebuilding their own homes. The people of Govindpur Goriyari village especially made a bamboo bridge under CFW to make a Chehak centre accessible to children on the other side of the river. 


There are two Chehak Centres (Saharsa district) currently operational with over 200 children. Now the parents give Rs. 30-40 monthly, taking the complete ownership of the center. The centers now act as informal tuition centers, complementing the formal government school education for these children. Goonj continues to support them in terms of material.

Chehak centers were started with a specific gap in mind and we used material as a tool to address that gap. Started as an experiment in the Bihar floods, the concept is evolving as we recently organized free coaching centres for the flood affected children in Srinagar, (J&K). The needs and modalities are different but the goal is the same. More about that in another story... 

Chehak Centre!
Chehak Centre!
Children learning to write..
Children learning to write..
Children involved in an activity..
Children involved in an activity..
Children in an activity..
Children in an activity..
Engaging in activities..
Engaging in activities..

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Children jumping with excitement wearing new shoes
Children jumping with excitement wearing new shoes

100 Stories of Change

It’s been a journey of 16 years.. started with touching upon the most ignored rather non issue of clothing to use the old material as a currency for development. Many people still think that Goonj is about collection and distribution of clothes .. but how your old material has come up as a new resource for village development across the country, how the old material has been able to lay pipelines in the country for channelizing tonnes of need based material to how it has become a genesis of a parallel economy which is not Cash based but Trash based !! 

From creating large mangroves to bridges in remote India, the old material and Goonj has a lot to share through 100 Stories of Change!! Thank you all for becoming a part of this journey and showing so much of love and faith..

Happy feet and the daily puddles of life !!

"Like cloth, shoe is a basic we hardly ever think about…you don’t have to walk barefoot to know that no one likes it… So if you see a child walking around without shoes, its not a choice, simply a compulsion, an inability to provide for this basic.. that creates an unmistakable chasm for many in village India. "

A row of shoes outside a village classroom.. is an enduring image of hope and learning.. and when you see broken slippers, broken shoes strewn all around.. That’s another enduring image of what’s missing…This story is about how shoes have helped many a happy feet jump across the little puddles of everyday life..

Over the last decade Goonj has consistently talked about shoes as an important need in village India.. It’s an apt metaphor of a needle in the times of machines.. The little needs in times of big challenges.. While we have been channelizing shoes from the cities to the villages, for people like me and you, it’s also a learning in mindful giving…the tying together of laces of a pair to ensure they remain useful.. Ensuring there are laces and sole etc… Basically giving wearable, usable shoes.. with dignity.

Each child’s story is unique but what’s common is the excitement of showing their new shoes to the parents when they get back home. Both feel encouraged and relieved (from an expense) by this little addition in their lives.… Our faith is further affirmed by the addition in attendance at school afterwards. An after effect is the disparity of haves and have not’s, taken away in one stroke.

Tens of thousands of shoes have reached out as part of our disaster relief work over the years. The outcome is millions of smiles, joy and happy feet …

Shoes neatly arranged outside a classroom..
Shoes neatly arranged outside a classroom..
Huddled together wearing smart shoes!
Huddled together wearing smart shoes!
Enthusiastically marching away..
Enthusiastically marching away..
An old lady trying on the smart shoes!
An old lady trying on the smart shoes!
Trying on Sports Shoes for tough terrain!
Trying on Sports Shoes for tough terrain!

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Organization Information

GOONJ

Location: New Delhi, Delhi - India
Website: http:/​/​www.goonj.org
Project Leader:
Priyanka Tiwari
New Delhi, Delhi India