Education
 India
Project #5828

Supporting the people of Kerala, India

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust
Running together
Running together

As it turns out, change requires brilliant ideas, dedication, hope and many, many hands. SDPY and GVI have combined forces to produce an enthusiasm for learning that has become contagious, slowly swelling our timid tuition students into spontaneous crowds of independent songs lead by our song leaders, teachings stopping volunteers to chat about life and halls teeming with outstretched hands and remember names. Over the last month, GVI has made a concerted effort to take the time to say thank you, thank you to our students for upholding the standards of leadership and practice we expect (and helping us keep our own standards high), thank you to our teachers for sharing their student and their classrooms, and to thanking the administration for trusting us to gather larger and larger amounts of students to play and learn independently. This month we all practiced our new vocabulary, “thank you.”

Sports Day was the ultimate day of thankfulness. Six volunteer, decked out head to toe in supportive colours, crowded the sidelines and cheered all day for our nine hundred and fifty some students. From the fist bumps we received from the commissioner of police during opening ceremonies, to the impromptu Malayalam lessons as we cheered on our respective teams, and the teachers constant checks to see if we had submitted our names for the upcoming events, we really were a part of the whole.

Although there are ways to quantify how many kids we pack into tuition, or the number of words our student’s vocabularies have grown by, there is no way to compact the sense of community and trust we have into a number or a word. Sports Day was all about sitting down in the dust and smiling, with no plans for what the conversation was going to practice, except to share and experience and listen to one another. There was no test needed, so rules laid out, we all just fit naturally into the excitment and pride from our school and our students.

Sports Day
Sports Day

Links:

Joseph Kiran UKG
Joseph Kiran UKG

One of the main long term goals of the project in Kerala is to ensure that kids do not drop out of school  as this is a huge problem in the state of Kerala. Through your support and donations, we have been able to sponsor 50 students by paying for their school fees! You can see some the photos of the children your funds helped sponsor. Through donations, we are able to keep the project going but more importantly help poor children and the community we are working with financially. As many of the parents are daily wage earners (i.e. fishermen, coolies, or autorikshaw drivers), the families often have to borrow money from loan sharks to pay for school fees and end up in a cycle where they are in debt always. Some of the parents also have terminal injuries or illnesses that do not allow them to work and hence there might be no income coming in.The donations thus reduce the burden from both the families who having a hard time paying fees and also the kids who are expected to get top grades all the time by their families. 

Part of volunteering and being a community partner is recognizing realities we would like to help change, but it takes heart, dedication and perseverance to see that change through. Operation ARTify is an ongoing initiative among our sites to increase visual and creative influences in our schools though a variety of mediums and outlets. The long-term goal of Operation ARTify is to model the ease with which art and creativity can be incorporated into lessons, and to highlight the benefits to students in both their classroom performance, and development of independent and creative thoughts. The three month goal of the project was to teach an art lesson in class (check) and to paint one mural at SDPY (triple check!)

The murals we have painted this month are far more than just beautiful decorations, and lasting tools for learning and imagination. More importantly, they represent the hours of dedication and hard work volunteers have given to create the sense of community we have with our school partners. At each site, it is clear the murals are not as much about décor, as they are about GVI thanking the community and kids for welcoming us into their lives, and allowing us a part in the education and growth of these amazing kids.

Anne Vinaya STD3
Anne Vinaya STD3
Manjith STD 6
Manjith STD 6
Under the Sea
Under the Sea

Links:

One month ago today we dreamed of having a small scale morning tuition program to help some of our struggling students with their school work. One month and over sixty students across five tuition periods later, our small scale tuition period has evolved into an engagement system built upon the goal of sustainability through student leadership. The launch of the morning, and then afternoon tuition programs marked a transition for GVI from providing support to a select group of struggling students during school, to becoming a fixture of encouragement and enrichment for the whole school.
 
The priorities of our planning process were to promote Spoken English, conduct fun but controlled lessons and cultivate a league of student leaders who would eventually take over the program. Each session was designed to introduce various teaching approaches and highlighting the student’s ability embrace and behave well during these new experiences. As the program grew, we realized the role of our student leaders through the GVI Excellence Card. The cardholders club has representatives from all ages, and academic levels and is based on leadership of and involvement in tuition programs. Despite the heartbreak of not granting a card to all students on the first day, and the trying decline of a pizza bribe, the pride in each students face when they earn their card is overwhelming.

We wanted to make a quiet, supportive space for homework and test prep and have achieved these small sessions in addition to jeopardy style test preps hosted by student quiz masters. Monday afternoon’s students board the GVI aircraft and “Fly with GVI,” through a weekly 15 minute multimedia presentation given about a volunteer; where they have traveled, what they do at home or any other topic of their choosing. Song day produced a student lead choir of more than fifty eager voices. Creativity and imagination pop up in our Tuesday creative speaking and writing classes and the grooves flow through Wednesday Zumba classes lead via videos made by a past volunteer.

Last week our school principle said when she talks with us all of the stress leaves her body. She said she and the teachers are tired and when they see us believing in the kids and trying new ways of teaching, despite the mild riots which may happen, it gives her energy to keep believing in them. Everyday has not been smooth or gone according to plan, sometimes we have uncertain steps and complete missteps, but what is import is that we keep looking to the kids. They came and supported our new tuition program even though it meant more school work and less nap time, they brought their friends, took leadership roles even when it was not all fun and games. They stuck by us, so you can bet we are going to stick by them.

In June of 2011 GVI Kerala was given the opportunity to take on a huge task. 23 kids from the North East of India, a small tribal state called Manipur, arrived on the doorstop of the boys and girls homes that we work at. Over the last 12 months GVI Kerala had been the sole source of education for these kids. Everyday these kids would come to class ready to learn, keen to absorb anything that was thrown their way. It took a good three to four months before these kids started to come out of their shells, but when they did there was no stopping them. What these kids had endured has been nothing short of terrible, details are always sketchy but it has been a very difficult couple of years for all of these kids. The thing is that you would never know; they were so happy just to be at school, to feel a part of something, they would never complain about anything and never put themselves first, a lesson we can all learn from!

Now this period in their own and GVI Kerala’s lives is over, the kids have all been sent home by the Manipur government to be reunited with their families and to go to school in their local areas, an amazing achievement that has taken more than 12 months to happen.

It was such a great pleasure to be able to look back on all the work the volunteers had put into these kids and the education that they received. On the request of the Manipur government, we were to hand in a report on the work that we had done with these kids. This was quite special, not only because it signified the end of an amazing period, but that the work that we have been doing with these kids is being taken seriously, and that what we have achieved will be taken into account, all of the time and effort, the hundreds of hours of teaching that GVI has provided for these kids is not lost. It has been an incredible 12 months, these kids came into this program and literately turned it on its head, and we love them for it. The lessons that we have learnt about ourselves and what is achievable has changed, and a new vision of where to go next is now the focus, from the experience that we have had with these kids we are prepared and forever grateful to them for it.

We are lucky enough to have today's update from a current volunteer out in India! This is his passionate account of his adventure...

The first trip to school is really something! For those new to the idea of Tuk-Tuks and Indian traffic it gives a nice introduction and the skill of Jutten the driver will show you it’s all really just organised chaos... The school itself
is completely wonderful with all of the kids greeting you with a beaming grin and a "Good morning Sir." A quick tour familiarises you with the school then it’s on to meeting the kids!

Getting stuck in with the Manipur kids was one of the happiest moments of my life, hands down. I've never met young kids so cheerful, welcoming and downright cheeky! We started our first sports lesson in the blazing sunshine at 9 in the morning, by 5 past I'd already fallen over much to the delight of everyone (volunteers included!). As soon as the warm-up was over and "coach" had recovered from his fall the football began. I found it difficult to believe what I was seeing, the skills exhibited were second only to the enthusiasm everyone was showing. Back home you would have to offer cash rewards to get the whole class involved, whereas here the girls were jumping at every possible opportunity to get stuck in and show up the boys! - It was glorious; the passion for sport and the simple fun of it all was exhilarating. From that moment on there was no doubt I had come to the right place!

My days thereafter consisted of an early lesson with the Manipur kids and then onto a regular schedule with the various classes of Auxilium school. With the help of "Coach" the permanent PT teacher and best man in the universe we led a variety of classes throughout the day. I should explain, coach is fantastic not only for the simply ASTONISHING amount of ear hair he has going on (soon to connect with the moustache I'm certain) but also for his way with the kids and the volunteers. A simply fantastic gent with endless stories about his time as coach of the Oman football team and years in the Navy. Not to mention the man has met the pope... twice!

Sports tuition was another important part of the project. Every morning I was met at the gate by the ever eager Shijon and friends who were itching to get started. We covered a range of topics and sports throughout my time there. From dismissing the idea that a "Sharja Shake" consisting of ice-cream, syrup, cherries and cashew nuts was a "health food". To working on a zonal defence in basketball. It was a pleasure to teach and then watch as tactics you'd worked on that morning were secretly deployed on the court at lunchtime. However don't be under the impression that its all work and no play. More often than not you find yourself right in the middle of it to even the teams, or providing an extra fielder in a highly competitive game of football-cricket! The fun isn't limited to within school hours either. As part of team GVI you become one big family from day one. At the weekends you get the chance to explore outside Fort Kochi and experience more of the magic of Kerala. Munnar, Varkala and the back waters were just a fraction of what we saw and each provided endless laughs and experiences I would doubt many will forget. My personal favourite was our team outing to go snorkelling and kayaking in a quarry not far from Ernakulam. We spent the day swimming around in the dazzling sunshine with no-one else in sight. The scuba-cochin guys were brilliant and made sure no-one drowned. Like the old saying goes "It’s all fun and games until somebody loses a fin..."

All in all, this has been the best way imaginable to spend my time in India. I've met some of the kindest and well meaning people teachers, tuk-tuk drivers and volunteers alike and I really can't imagine going back to the UK. The entire thing has been so well run, managed and generally flawless (other than a little scooter mishap) it almost beggars belief. If anyone reading this is considering some time out here do it, JUST DO IT. It’s for the kids! And also from a selfish perspective it’s for you too. There is no better way to spend some time away!!

 

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Organization Information

Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Location: Exeter, Devon - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.gvi.org
Project Leader:
Kate Robey
St Albans, Herts United Kingdom

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