Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Elocution, Essay, Quiz and Drawing Competitions@Pollachi Rural Schools

Hi Everyone,

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.

Thanking you
Shyamsundar Sivalingam
Dream India

Monday, March 23, 2009

You Are Invited

Dear Friends,
I met HM of the different schools some weeks before for seeking permissions for conducting programs like elocution ,quiz,and essay writing for the students from 6-10 standards and Drawing for schools from 1-5 standards .They readily accepted our request and granted us the permission .We will be conducting programs seperately for different schools and the prize distribution will be conducted commonly at one place .

Date for elocution competition, quiz and others:
We have decided to conduct the program on Saturday, Mar 28th, 2009. The prize distribution would be done on 29th of the same month.Here are the details of school in which the competition is going to be conducted .

Govt Schools Participating:
1.Mid school ,Nallitipalayam
2.Mid school ,Kondampatty
3.Mid school,Kothavady

Contact Persons:
S.Mahalingam HM ,Nallitipalayam
E.Arunachalam HM ,Kondampatty
K.Periyasamy HM ,Kothavady

Hereby i welcome all the members of Dream India ,Supporting members ,Volunteers and everyone to our function .Please provide us your valuable feedbacks and suggestions for making our event a grand successful one .I
have spotted the address of prize distribution ceremony (Just below).
Date:29th march 2009
Venue:Govt Mid School Kothavady

Thanking you
Shyamsundar Sivalingam
Dream India

Queensland trip along with Vasantham Kids .March 09'

Its my turn to share our sweet memorable experience with vasantham kids at queensland water theme park.I sware you guys that you have a missed a lot if you are not a part of this trip .

Myself and Nata started by 8.30 in the morning from thiruvanmiyur and reached by 10.As madam said they will be ten minutes late myself and nata moved to a petty shop to have a cup of tea and vadai .After that we moved inside .

Mean while Madam reached the park along with the school kids .Nata assisted madam in getting the tickets for everyone .Staffs of vasantham school and volunteers from different NGOs moved in along with the kids .Myself and nata entered and took the responsibility of queuing up kids for the next move into the theme park.We took the children for selected games as because as madam said the kids would get scared if they go rides that are little risky.We went for rope car , dashing car,Dancing Queen(name of games dont get confused) we queued up kids along with volunteers and staffs .In the mean while we had a break(as the kids might get little hungry and thirsty) we took some snacks and a lemon drink.Parthy joined our party at the start of our first Break.

After the break we planned to go for a water ride (Himalayan water ride would get closed before 2pm ) .Awesome all the kids thoroughly enjoyed the game.Mean while again we took a break for lunch.Parthy and Nata served food for the kids and finally its time for us .We sat together(Myself,Parthy,and Nata) and had a great lunch.Parthy took less quantity of food as because again he has to join with his family for another lunch.After that we had a rose milk drink and we are jammed like as if we can move anymore or anywhere .Parthy left the place as he had an important commitment with his family.

After a short period volunteers and staffs of vasantham school went for another ride( free fall tower).And after that we all reached swim pool where all the kids along with these staffs and volunteers jumped inside the pool and enjoyed with the vasantham kids .

Finally its time for us to leave the place .We thanked Madam for giving us a wonderful oppurtunity for spending a great day with the kids .

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kakkum Karangal Children's home visit - March 09'

Sorry for intruding into Natarajan's space but this time it will be me writing about Kakkum Karangal. And I am not talking about the old age home, it is the Children's Home run by the same institution. 

The usual suspects Shyam, JP, Nata reached the place by about 7 pm and I joined them thirty minutes
 later. The small but homely place is run by an elderly woman and has about 50 orphaned children, mostly girls. We started by making the kids sit down in lines and one of the elder girls laid down the plates for all. Hot idlis were then given to the kids by all of us, three to the bigger ones and two to the young ones. Based on need, we later gave more idlis to the children, who gulped down the delicacy along with the sambar and the chutney. 

Then came the hot coffee, that we later decided to remove from the menu item from our next visit. Finally by 8 o clock the dinner was over.

The group gathered in their TV room after that and the kids sang one by one, the ruckus was uncontrollable. :) Shyam and Nata joined in the fun by dancing to the tunes. The kids also told us what they wanted for their next dinner party - Parottas/Chapatis, cool drink, and Sonpapdi. 

With smiling faces all around, we departed the place after thanking the people in charge and selecting the date for our next trip - April 12th.

We might make TCS sponsor this event on a monthly basis. JP and Nata will talk to TCS Chennai about this and we will soon know the outcome.

Overall, the Sunday evening was spent in a very beautiful way and I salute the volunteers of Chennai who have been doing this month after month for very long now.

A Sunday DI session - Chennai

After a year long, I visited a DI center, our Valasarawakkam class in Chennai. Our volunteer Sriram, his brother and a couple of more volunteers have been conducting classes in this school regularly for the past one year. It has been wonderful how the lack of other volunteers and the dwindling student population has failed to deter these young ones.

The class strength has come down to about 5-6 students who attend regularly and today was no different. Sriram's uncle was about to sell his desktop as he was upgrading to a new PC and Sriram convinced him that DI will put it to good use. Hence the HC Bumble bee desktop has been silently making a big difference to the children in the science laboratory of the corporation school here. 

We put a moral story VCD (http://www.indiaclub.com/shop/SearchResults.asp?ProdStock=12510&Loc=SRBT) where animated characters talk about old Ramakrishna tales in slow English. So not only do the children learn the morals, but they also improve their English skills gradually. I was really surprised to see how well the kids listening powers had developed and how beautifully they were able to talk and understand English. When asked to translate 'panna mudiyathu' in English, while one chap blinked, the other shot out 'It is impossible'. 

When in the midst of a tale, power cut played truant and in true 'Swades' movie style, we asked one boy to narrate one of the earlier tales in English and for the nxt 20 minutes, the entire class was alert, helping him translate all of the tamil sentences in his mind to English and at the end of it, Bravo! we had a very good story in English.

Do not mind the long narration about a small DI session, but the session had only confirmed the faith that DI has - Never bother about how small the class strength is, go out there, do your best, and enjoy the class with the kids available, that is precisely what we did today.

Monday, March 16, 2009

DI Chennai: First Aid course and KK visit updates

Dear Friends,

It is my pleasure to share a quick update on Dream India Chennai's recent activities.

First Aid Course:

On Sunday, 10 of our friends attended the "First Aid Awareness course" organized by Vasantham and conducted by St.John's Ambulance. The session was very useful and all of us learned a lot about first aid. A detailed document,which would be the official first aid document by DI and Vasantham, would be share with you all soon.

Couple of things to be shared:


The team involved on rescue mission looks for the number stored as "ICE" [ In case of emergency] on mobile of the injured. They had a request for us to spread this message to all. This is internationally recognized code word and hence request everyone to store the number that one can contact in case of emergency as "ICE".

In case of having more than one numbers, say someone is living Chennai for work, but family in Pune, then you can store your local contact as ICE and family back in Pune as ICE1 or ICE2. Same goes for people staying abroad.

108 and 1066:

These are the emergency numbers one can call in Tamil Nadu. If you are in a position where you cannot stay back and help someone by giving first aid, then you can simply dial this number and give the details like location etc and ask them attend this.

Please find out the local number for your city and keep them stored.

We were also trained on CPR technique for adults, children and infant. Fire accidents, Road accidents, Poison, Electric shock and lot many more like how to use clothes, handkerchiefs or even dubbatas or shirts as hand slings were also taught.

As I mentioned earlier, Shyam is in the process of making a document on this. Upon inputs from all who attended the session, we would come up with a final draft and release the document. This would be available in our website for reference any time.

Friends attended:

Shyam, Hema, Swapna, Divya, Vishnu, Aditya, Anurag, Kavitha, Mujeeb and Natarajan.

Kaakum Karangal Visit:

We visited Kaakum Karangal old age home on Sunday evening. We had a special guest today joining us. Our twin sister friends Elavarasi and Vimala's mother joined us for the visit. We served chola puri, coffee and bananas to all the residents.

Our friends spent time with the residents as usual and we left the home by 8.30 PM. Overall, the day was really wonderful and with weekend class on Saturday, the weekend was complete fun and meaningful.

Team: Shyam, Ravin, JP, Sreeja, Elavarsi, Vimala, their mom and Nata.


Dream India

"Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress." - Mahatma