Its my privilege to share our sweet memories about our trip .
This weekend created a new landmark for Dream India. The Chennai DI team volunteers(Natarajan,Parthy,Varun,Ravin and Shyam) visited the village of Kothavadi a small village near Pollachi (Coimbatore District) and conducted a variety of competitions for the children studying in three different Government Mid schools in the Kinathukadavu region (Near Pollachi ).
We all know it is very difficult to work in villages unless we have strong local support. So i reached the schools weeks before and gave them the topics for conducting the drawing, elocution and the essay writing competitions during the course of the week (March 24 to March 27) by personally visiting and confirming with the HM of different schools.
The rest of us, Natarajan, Parthy, Ravin and varun reached the place(Kothavadi) early Saturday morning.But things didnt work as per our schedule (a little disappointment) .Im really sorry (for Natarajan,parthy,Varun ) its my responsibility .So we moved to pollachi for purchasing the momentos for the chief guests.
In the evening all the five DI members(Nata,Varun,Parthy,Ravin and Shyam) had a chance to meet the kothavadi Staff and HM (Retired husband and Wife over 40 years of teaching experience in kothavadi ) who had dedicated their entire life for the benefit of students (We salute their commitment towards their work).We had a long chat and the teachers were sharing their experiences as a staff in that village and steps that they have taken for overcoming difficulties at time of problems .
The ideas shared:
1.Parents and teachers relationship.
2.Passion and commitment of staffs towards the students
3.No mutual bonding between students and staffs
4.No proper hygiene awareness created among students(young children) by the staffs
Their ideas needs a standing ovation.
Next(Sunday) morning students started arriving one by one .But the Kondampatty mid school boycotted the entire function (Except few kids from standard 1 to 5) because of the HM who has never reached their students and conveyed our invitation for prize distribution ceremony held at kothavadi.But still then i want to make sure that everyone turn up for the function (By arranging a mini bus)but no one turned up.
We conducted the quiz contest for 9 teams from two different schoolsAt 11am stage was occupied by distinguished chief guests - The retired HM of the school, the Principal from an esteemed institution NGM college Pollachi(Over 35 years of experience as a principal and was popularly known as Green man (Green revolutionalist)),the village president and the head masters . The DGP of the place also initially consented to attend, but had some last minute change of plan, so could not make it.
I took the responsibilty of introduction about the chief guests. There was then a speech from a girl who had won competitions at the district level for her brilliant speeches( Especially in the felicitation ceremony of Mr. Mylsamy Annadurai Project director Chandraayan) she had applauses from all people.
The principal (NGM college of arts and science) spoke on the need for education by quoting a example of hero from the same village (Mr. Mylsamy Annadurai Project director Chandraayan).Hats off sir we need your support always.
The speech from the HM exhorting the current crop of teachers to build a strong nexus among the three pillars for a successful schooling experience - The teachers themselves, the children, and the parents. He also stressed the need for maintaining a clean environment in the village and how they should use the assistance that we youth from organizations like DI, come forward to offer. Also was highlighted that no child will be refused to an opportunity for either primary or higher education due to caste or lack of required finances and that DI would offer its full support for the latter.
Then the much awaited prize distribution ceremony where the children from 1st to 5th standards were given one prize each - a coloring box - for their efforts in drawing. Elocution and Essay writing had three winners each - the first prize was a big English-Tamil dictionary, second prize a book on Dr Kalam and one on Swami Vivekananda, third prize were books by Dr Kalam and Mahatma Gandhi. All prizes were accompanied by trophies of various sizes. We later found out from the kids that the trophies were liked a lot. Some of the boys were already getting ready for our next event in the place and were eager to know when we would return. This is the first time most of the students were participating in an event like this and the cheers that each prize winner received from fellow students as they went up to collect their prize, proved the huge popularity of the event.
It is to be noted here that the well respected HM was the first to ensure that the so-called lower castes in the village receive access to education. Such was his powerful presence in yesteryear's society (We are talking about late 1950s here) that no one dared raise a voice against him when he suggested and implemented the idea of including the under privileged children in the schools.
Another interesting anecdote from the counselor 'How many of you from the cities have had this experience? I am sure none of you. My father and I were both taught by this HM during our school years. He has literally brought up two generations of people in this village.'
It became obvious that the teachers of yesteryear were far more interested in actual child welfare and had a far greater influence in shaping the career and more importantly, the personality of a child than the current crop. The high salaries of teachers in TN (yes, it seems it is a fact that the teachers in govt. schools in TN are very well paid) leads to distraction and non-chalant behavior that in turn affects their performance. When we have teachers who don't even bother telling the students that it is not a very good idea to defecate in the open (The school has a small gully behind it that is being used as an open toilet despite the presence of properly constructed toilets within the campus) or that the class rooms be maintained cleanly or that the kids should wear slippers all the time when outside, it shows either the ignorance of the teachers themselves or their I-don't-care attitude that is very very dangerous.
The entire trip taught DI a lot of lessons:
(For instance ALWAYS take the written permission of the Education officer of the area, before venturing into any school project, this will ensure better co operation from the school teachers)
and gave us some very valuable contacts in the village .
Thanks to the village ward counselor(Mr Sivakumar) support, the retired HM of the school who offered his words of advise.
Thanks to my entire family who were simply amazing in their co operation in packing of sweets and preparation of juices for chief guests as well as students and assistance for this entire project .
We require all these people for any future ventures that we make in this village and we do have some ideas like ramping up the library that exists in the school, set up literary forums which will meet every month and conduct competitions or simply exchange ideas. We have taken the first step in this direction and hope to make the next move soon to identify the future leaders of this place. After all this is the village of Dr Mylsamy Annadurai, Project Director of the Chandrayaan 1 project of the ISRO.
We have uploaded the photos of our sweet memories.
On the very next day the respected HMs called up and thanked our DI effort and passion towards our work.
Also believe me students called up(They got my number from the HM) and expressed their happiness saying ("Anna we miss u a lot and when will you come back to our school again for conducting the fuction and other girl cryingly said this is my first time im performing a bharathanatiyam in a stage like these). I have no answers for them .
I should personally thank Natarajan and all the DI members for giving me an oppurtunity to work a project like these.