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April to May, May to June, June to July & July To August…. Gujarat to Rajasthan

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In this blog post Kanan Silvera, Educate for Life Process Manager working full time in India, shares her experiences of joining Hunar Ghar and of her first few months with us.

 

In April 2013 I had applied to Educate for Life (Ed) to work as a Program Manager for Hunar Ghar, Bakhel. A Week later I got a mail from Ed for a telephonic interview. In May 2013 I faced a Personal interview at Udaipur. I had no idea what the job was going to be like. But, 11th June when Vivek called he said “Hello, I am Vivek calling from Educate for Life” I thought to myself you are kidding me! Educate For Life!! I knew if I did get the job, I would be experiencing something completely different!

16th June 2013 was my first visit at Hunar Ghar. Here I met Vivek, he picked up me from Swaroopgunj. He showed me our Rohida office, here I met Sam who comes from Ireland and is working on Bakhel Village’s women’s health issues. Vivek and I went to Hunar Ghar School in the afternoon. Here I met Ed and Bhuriyaram. The experience I had was amazing! Hunar Ghar school building and surrounding location was fabulous. Everything was going like I’m in a dream.

image001 1. 1 Most Beautiful Place I ever seen –Hunar Ghar

I came to Udaipur on 31st June 2013 only having one friend and not knowing anybody. But unfortunately before I came to Udaipur she got transfer at Rajsamand District. I did not know what to expect from staying alone but I was very confident that I was going to love it! It will be easy once I get used to it, is what I told myself.

I joined RBKS on 1st July as Educate for Life Process Manager. Since this is my first blog entry; I’ll just give a little bit of information about myself. I am Kanan Silvera, coming from Gujarat state’s Anand District. I have completed my Masters in Social Work. I have joined Hunar Ghar as Educate for Life Process Manager.

And now my journey starts for Hunar Ghar! A week later I went to Hunar Ghar. My role profile was already prepared by Educate for Life so it’s not hard for me to understand my roles and responsibilities at Hunar Ghar. But it’s different state, different language, different culture, different work, more responsibilities, and more expectation! It’s like it didn’t matter if I knew Gujarati, English or Hindi; it was still Greek and Latin to me! When I reached Hunar Ghar It was game time for the children. Some children were playing in the playground, some were sitting at one side and watching children playing. I met the entire Hunar Ghar Team. I had to follow and observe how my team worked. I was a silent observer for the first two days.

image0021. 2 first picture clicked at Hunar Ghar

I met Sam & Neha, they are working on launching Safe motherhood & Childhood program in Bakhel village. The main aim of this program is to increase women’s knowledge on pregnancy and increase use of PHC and other health service, early childhood care with the long term goal of addressing malnutrition in this village. It was training time for community facilitators. So, I had the opportunity of getting to know the program. VP decides her vision for Bakhel’s women.

Untitled1. 3 Training session- Neha, Sam, Vishnu Priya & Kankubai

I met Deepak! He has been working with Hunar Ghar for the last five years but unfortunately it was his last week of work at Hunar Ghar. Everyone welcomed me to Hunar Ghar and all said a sad good bye to Deepak from Hunar Ghar. All the staff gave him fare well on his last day.

image004On the 4th day I came to know about the mobile clinic service. It was an amazing experience working with VP to inform the community people about the Mobile clinic coming to Kharavali on Saturday. I accompanied VP in Kharavali while Gopal and Vivek went to Jhanjur and Sam and Neha gave information in Dholi Magri and Andat. The language they speak is so similar to Gujarati so I felt like I was working in Gujarat only.

After spending a week at Hunar Ghar I came back to Udaipur. I came by jeep from Sulav to Devla and the jeep was crammed, inside and out, with men, women, children and babies. From Devla high way I came by roadways bus. It was around 4 to 5 hours journey.

At RBKS office I met Shrishti, We both are at the same stage of life. She’s also coming from another state & staying alone in Udaipur. We became really close friends in a very short time. We walked to our rooms together each day, stopping for gol gupa and ice cream on the way. We spoke and spoke and spoke non- stop! It was great fun time. She helped me in adjusting to the RBKS setup.

I met Chetan as well; he is handling Educate for Life accounts at RBKS. I always found a smile on his face. Then I started to understand the account work. Chetan asked me; “Yes ma’m, what can I help you & what you want to know about account! I thought to myself, from where do I need to start? Chetanji, accounting is a new chapter for me. I am your new student. So start from account’s A. We go through each budget head; he showed me a cash book, ledger book, vouchers and purpose/use of each one in account. He tries to help me, but it was not easy work to understand the accounts in a week. I asked him so many questions. Sometimes questions I repeated. But RBKS team supported me in solving queries.

By the time I came back to Udaipur, I felt different. I wanted to spend more time at Hunar Ghar. I felt more confident and I knew I will never be scared to travel alone! And I decided to spend 18-20 days at Hunar Ghar.

Now I have completed my four months at Hunar Ghar. All in all I enjoyed my work at Hunar Ghar, Bakhel. I know that there are going to be many challenges to face when aiming to work for a longer time. I will come back with a new blog and with new updates and new events at Hunar Ghar. Till then take care and Ram Ram….

Back to health in Bakhel

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Hi everyone. I know it’s been far too long since I wrote my last blog. As you know, I went off travelling with my daughter for 6 weeks and it was so good to see her.

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We had a great time together and we were delighted to also meet up with a friend of mine from Ireland. I love being in the village but I do miss the company of family and friends so I was delighted to have the chance to see them here. The three of us went off to Kerala in the south of India. We spent time by the sea which I have missed so much living in such a hot place. Unfortunately it was a bit too rough to swim in but, nevertheless, wonderful to be near. We also went and checked out Kerala’s backwaters. We went on a 3 hour trip on a small canoe along the narrow canals and then we went on to Alleppey where we rented a houseboat for 24 hours. It was a fantastic experience winding our way past all of the paddy fields and seeing all of the little houses lined up at the side of the water. We spent the night on the water and ate some delicious food that was cooked specially for us. We then went on to Kumily and Munnar to see the tea and spice plantations. We also went trekking in a nature reserve where we saw sambar deer and wild boar. I was really hoping to see wild elephants but unfortunately it wasn’t our lucky day. However, the scenery was spectacular and it was also good fun rafting on the lake. After our adventures, Emma went off to Mumbai to catch her flight to Ireland. I travelled with my daughter back to Delhi and we went and saw the amazing Taj Mahal before she headed back to the UK. I was sad to see her go and it was difficult coming back to the village to begin with. However, it was lovely to see everyone again and I soon settled back in.

I’ve been back for about 6 weeks now and it’s definitely time to write and let you know what’s been happening with the Safe Motherhood and Childhood Programme. I was pleased to see that Vishnu Priya had been working away and had registered some more women onto the programme while I’d been away. The PHC visits had been going ahead with a turnout of approximately 50% (which seems to be going up) each time. Before I had left there had been no deliveries but I arrived back to find that eight babies had been born. Vishnu Priya had had no experience of filling in the newborn registration forms so we spent the first week after my return going to the new babies’ homes and registering them onto the childhood part of the programme. The first week of life is the most vulnerable time for a newborn so it is important that we go and give advice and support as soon as possible after the birth. We give advice on keeping the baby warm, keeping the baby close to the mother, breastfeeding support, and information about immunisations. As we found out in the survey, the majority of mothers do not feed their babies the first milk (colostrum) which acts as an immune factor for the child as well as having health benefits for the mother. During this visit we ask the mother about the first breastfeed so that we will be able to establish whether or not the information that we are giving regarding breastfeeding and colostrum is taking effect in the community.

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The week that I arrived back I was excited to be going to the PHC with the women scheduled in for antenatal checks. However, we learned that the PHC staff were on strike and this carried on for two weeks. This is not the first time that it has happened and when it does women have to travel at least another 35 KM to find maternal health services. This is a big problem considering that most families do not have enough money to pay for extra transport costs. Women’s health is put at risk as they miss out on their health check-ups, TT injections and IFA supplements. Moreover, they are less likely to travel for help in emergency situations and rely on the help of untrained local birth attendants (dais) for deliveries. So I was relieved to hear that, after two weeks, the PHC finally re-opened. We had a backlog of women to accompany to the PHC for their antenatal checks but that wasn’t a big problem. On one of the visits we had six women that were ‘first timers’. It’s interesting to see their reactions to the different tests. Many women stand on the weighing scales the wrong way round and look very confused when having their blood pressure taken although we’ve previously explained what will happen. It’s all done in a very different way than at home and the women have absolutely no privacy. They all stand around watching each other have their injections and abdominal checks but it doesn’t seem to bother them as privacy is not something that they have ever experienced in their lifetime. We now have 49 women registered on the programme and 15 of those have given birth. Women are also asking to join the programme which is really fantastic. It made me very happy the day that Kancu Bai arrived at school and said that three women had asked to join the programme.

Apart from working closely with Vishnu Priya on the Safe Motherhood and Childhood Programme, I have begun writing a report on the women’s survey that we carried out in April. This will be made available to all of the community to see and for those that cannot read I am planning to disseminate the results verbally and theatrically with the help of some of the school children at the next school community meeting. I will also add some of the data to next month’s blog. This week I also accompanied Gopal on a well bleaching mission. The wells are very dirty after the monsoon weather and many people have been sick with bad stomachs so we hope that this will help to sort the problem out.

I am now into the last three weeks of my time here. I have very mixed feelings about leaving as I have become very close to many of the people here. I will be celebrating Divali with my family next week which I am looking forward to especially as Ramilla, Rani and Sarita will be returning home from boarding school for the holidays. I’ll write again next month and tell you all about it………

 

The second child learning demonstration day

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So I am really excited to share with you that we successfully conducted our second child learning demonstration day (CLDD). Before I share about the day I would like to briefly discuss about objective of these days and how we are going to take forward this program to build/develop our children’s confidence and ability to utilise his/her learnings.

When this idea germinated we were not very sure of its structure and only had a broad framework on how the day should look like and integrate processes which supports each child’s participation. Two CLDD have been organised and I think it is now an appropriate time for us to ponder and reflect on the bigger objective of these days and plan on the details of the process.

Now that we have already experienced two CLDD days we now have enough information to analyse the event and plan diligently to make this process achieve its true potential. While I was reflecting on last two CLDD I would like to first list down what have we have achieved so far. I feel that in last two CLDD days we have definitely been able to give a platform to children and teachers to express themselves freely, an exercise to identify their own learning and to be able to have fun in the classroom and ability to express this and communicate their feeling confidently. Apart from all these objective there are few head fakes as well such as increasing community participation in decision making processes and increase in the ownership of the Hunar Ghar. Secondly it perfectly fits in the scheme of evaluation as these days can be used as a tool for formative assessment as very useful information on child’s learning abilities/pace via observation.

So all this happening currently but the question remains on how to take this forward and design a system which supports this in running itself. I will not boast of having a very concrete idea but I definitely feel that over a period of time we need to plan this days keeping in mind following elements.

  • Theme
  • How the theme is related to this month’s curriculum
  • Participation medium/mode
  • Documentation of the learning in child portfolio

So any suggestion from viewers will be most welcome.

Coming back to this month’s child demonstration day, it was again a mix of themes for the children. Class four presented on environment under the mentorship of class teacher Bhuvanesh. Each child represented a vegetable and talked about its origin, benefits and its origin they were quite confident playing roles of different vegetable and were answering the questions of audience with ease. This clearly reflected their strong understanding of the subject matter.

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Class four children enacting their part

Balwadi 2: Children from balwadi under mentorship of our Balwadi facilitator Puspha presented a series of rhymes with action with full confidence and expression which was delightful to watch. Every child participated in the program and they presented the rhymes in a group. The satisfaction of being able to demonstrate their learning was pretty much evident from each child’s face.

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Balwadi two children enjoying during the CLDD-2

Class three students did a play based on one the chapters in their Hindi textbook. The children played the role of different animals to present the story in the form of a drama. I am quite delighted to observe the increased usage of drama in language class as it helps kids not only to understand the story but also to develop the understanding of the characters and in the process helps them develop higher order competencies like communication, expression which forms a very important element of language development early on. All the children participated and also after the event few children performed storytelling. The class was helped by their class teacher Prakash who is a drama enthusiast and language facilitator Pushpa Dama.

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Class 3 children doing their act

Class 2 demonstrated what they have learnt in their maths class under guidance of Maths Learning Facilitator. Children presented how to count in groups and in mathematics learning this is something children without often do while they play at home where they use lot of things in group, so it was quite important they are able to relate to what they do while away from school to what they do while in school and articulate that learning. This will help bridge gap between their school experiences and outside it which will make them feel more at home during school time. This brings me to end of CLDD 2 and watch out this space to learn more about Hunar Ghar activities and fun events.