A group of enthusiastic volunteers from Udaipur School of Social Work has recently joined our team at Hunar Ghar. Volunteer engagement program was spear headed by our Rural Changemaker, Rahul Dubey . Volunteers provide vital support to our teachers and their skills in creative learning are engaging the children at Hunar Ghar in novel ways. They share their experiences, expectations and new ideas here..
Hallo, Becka here, this is my first blog, sorry it has taken me so long to get round to it. Well, it has been about 7 weeks that I have been here and the time has flown by. First and foremost, I am completely in love with all of the children at Hunar Ghar and in the village of Bakhel, I get closer to them every day and I am realising that the quality of the relationships I build with the children and community are so much more important than the supposed ‘knowledge’ that I impart from an educational standpoint. During my first few weeks, Becky (a volunteer who came for 5 weeks) and I drew up a schedule for the younger children’s classes and spent a great deal of time and energy preparing resources and starting activities whilst trying to get the teachers involved and explaining the reasoning behind the activities. Nothing we had planned went to plan and the language barrier and a concept of time that differs greatly from our Western ‘go go go’ attitude meant that Becky and I went through just about every possible emotion during this time. I feel that the most valuable experiences, both for ourselves and the children, came from after school time when we sat outside our hut and made handcrafts whilst any children that wanted to, came and joined in. One day some of the women and teenage girls came up to the hut and did some embroidery and this was a wonderful experience which, I feel, is a step in the right direction if the community is to take ownership of Hunar Ghar as a centre for everyone’s learning and sharing. I have come to feel that my most effective contribution to the school lies in craft skills and this is also something which, to an extent, transcends the language barrier as children are so good at imitating. It is really gratifying to see how interested and enthusiastic the children are about trying all these new things and I have discovered some amazing talents amongst them. I think that one of the biggest themes that has arisen for me is the quality of the communication and relationships at Hunar Ghar. I have encountered a great deal of physical disrespect amongst the children, teachers and parents. This confuses me because I have also experienced a lot of warmth and generosity from many villagers. Today, for example, I heard a young boy of about seven or eight weeping uncontrollably. I managed to ascertain that another child had thrown a large stone at his back and many of the children were laughing. Not one of the teachers was interested in dealing with the matter and I had to drag one of my colleagues away from showing visitors around the new toilet, to gather all the children and teachers in one hut to discuss the issue of violence at the school. Many of the children experience violence at home as it is seen as an effective form of discipline so the children cannot be blamed for their actions yet I feel we can try to make Hunar Ghar a violence free zone at least. I feel that respect for every living creature is such a fundamental thing to learn, and is relevant for any child, living in any culture. From this foundation, the children can learn to love themselves which helps them to have the right connection with the world around them. I feel that one of my main tasks here is to show love toward the children and the community and through this, show the teachers the difference between authority gained through fear and authority gained through love and trust.
On Friday afternoon I finally met with Rebecca. We met on the internet and have been emailing each other for a while so we decided to meet up…
Rebecca is our first real Educate for Life volunteer in India. This is not to belittle Rob who was out there with me in 2007, we were friends before so it doesn’t count in the same way. We didn’t know Rebecca before she found us on the internet and decided, without really expecting a response, to drop us an email. We wrote back, as we try to do to everyone, but were particularly interested in her skills as a Steiner teacher-in-training, as Steiner education is something we see great benefit in and are in the process of turning our education into something more similar to that than to standard education.
When she wrote back again, it turned out that she is even better than just a Steiner trained person. What she says about topics close to our heart resonate with us, and we’re really looking forward to having a great, proactive and hardworking person. If you read this Rebecca, no pressure!
Educate for Life takes one step further forward to being a real charity!