Sunday, July 26, 2009

2009 I-Day drawing competition - Chennai

Dear all,

I'm very much pleased to inform you all that, we have successfully conducted the drawing competition at Govt. high school, Alapakkam.
Last week we announced to the students that we gonna have a drawing competition. The students turned out in large number for
the competition. We gave them 'Indian freedom' as a theme and once they finished drawing in that topic, they can draw any picture of
their own choice. They happily agreed and started to draw briskly. We made a team of 4 each and totally we had 19 teams.

We the volunteers provided them the, drawing materials like charts, color pencils and sketches. We planned to have this competition for two consecutive days.
Since, they can't complete it on Saturday alone. They came out with many ideas and shared with us. We also helped them in the same.
We have planned aug.22 as a ' celebration day '. On that day we are planning to
announce the results of this drawing competition and give away the prizes...

I personally want to THANK our volunteers Sriram, Aarti, Arunan, Igor fernandes & Ashik for all their effort in making this drawing competition a
grand success.


Water purifiers for schools

Hi All,
Am writing this mail based on updates given by Padmaja. Thanks to her we all now have detailed info on the situation in the school.

She had visited the school in Wada along with Vijay on Friday. There were two schools in that area - one, a regular school with even junior college attached (Population of about 500), and the other, a residential school for adivasi children (Strength of around 300). We are focusing only on the normal school right now. 

The school has a well (The motor and the pipes are all defunct, the tank is in a bad state as well due to neglect). The water sample was turbid and has a lot of particles (as seen by Padmaja) and a report of the scientific analysis of the sample (Done by Vijay's friends) stated that even a regular UV filtration method would not help, as the density of germs and bacteria in the water was too high. An R.O, on the other hand, would help.

Currently, the kids draw water from the well, and use a simple candle type filter for filtration.

Now, coming to the the important aspects:
Cost of an RO filter: A device that can give water at the rate of 15 liters an hour costs around Rs. 25,000. 
Maintenance: The company would maintain the equipment for a year after which the school will have to maintain it
Regularity of electricity: The school has uninterrupted power for 6 days a week, and virtually no power on Fridays
Security of the device: A place has been earmarked for the device and it will be placed under grilled gates and a lock would also be provided to make sure no damage happens. The school, though they accept neglect of the water tank et al, do seem to recognise the importance of cleaner drinking water facilities
Motor: The repair of the motor will be taken care of by the school, they will either repair it or replace with a new one.
Assurance: The school is ready to give us assurance in writing that they will maintain and take care of the device properly

Now from our side, we need to decide on few aspects:
Type of Filter: This article shows that the BARC filter is better than a UV filter and requires very little maintenance or initial costs. Padmaja will follow up on the distributors of this kind of filter and figure out the viability of having this installed in the school.
Follow ups: We have to do follow ups with the school from time (at least once a month), to make sure that the device is being used and maintained well.
Future plans: There is another group that wants to set up a library and together, we can try and have that kind of setup in this school itself, and slowly try and improve standards of education here. The only drawback is the distance (Is one hour from Thane), but if we need to spread our work to villages, this is a good place to start.

Friends, 25K is a big amount and we should think of all possibilities before deciding on this...Since the time is less (We have to decide this week), I urge all of you to put in efforts and try to find alternate filtration methods or any company that might provide discounts on RO plants.

Thanks and Regards,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ponni - Sixth semester results

Dear friends,
A very good new to start the day with.....Our student Ponni has scored 80% in her sixth semester, 2nd topper in the class. Dream India wishes her all the best. We are proud to be associated with her.

Hi All,
Our friend Viraj from Mumbai had obtained a used laptop for Ponni, from his office. Manikandan handed over the laptop to her recently, and the joy on her face is evident in the photos attached. She has been working really hard these last three years and we are sure that she would put the laptop to good use as well.
Thanks to all who made this possible..

Read more about her here

Pooja secures admission

Refer to this for more details...

Hallo people,

A piece of good news. Pooja’s admission for the XIth is done – SNDT College – MCVC in Electronics Technology. It’s a minimum competency vocational course, similar to regular XIth FYJC, but that’ll give her vocational training along with a chance to jump into the mainstream once she’s done. Earlier, the management was to put Pooja into XI Commerce at Mamasaheb Mohol College. Thanks to Sameer Sir and Rachna, this thing has become possible. Now she’ll have a fighting chance, should they tell her to leave AG once she’s eighteen years old.

College starts on the 17th of July, 2009 – at 08:15 A.M. So, please try to keep yourselves free on that day. Let’s cheer her on to her first day at college.

Travel – Pooja’ll be taking a bus to college, everyday. They’re looking at the pass thingy. I guess, she’ll get the concession form once college begins – so, that’s that.

But, finally, some good stuff.


Bhuvana - second semester results

Now how about this news friends!!!. Our student Bhuvana has scored 91.7% in her second semester. She scored 90+ in her 1st semester too.

Bhuvana is a very sincere and hard working student. If you all remember, couple of months ago, Parthy and I, we met Bhuvana and her mom and handed over a check for Rs.20,000 for her college fee.

Dream India is proud to be associated with Bhuvana. On behalf of our team, I convey our best wishes to Bhuvana. I am sure she would continue her good work and make us all proud.

Dream India

Chennai DI updates - July 2009

Adyar class:

It has been two weeks since we started the weekend classes for our Adyar school children. Currently, we are taking classes for 8th [ new batch] and our old students who are in 9th standard now. The strength of the 8th kids [ 30 ] has been very encouraging.

Our friend Mani, [ Web Admin along with Marshniel ] joined Adyar team and has been really energetic to get things done. By god's grace, Adyar chapter always finds dedicated volunteers which helps us handle the classes comfortably.

You might have seen my emails on plans for I-day at Adyar. Also, ELCOT set up of new computer room is almost done, DI would take over deployment of a teacher at this school in near future.

Certificates and prizes would be distributed for the 9 students who successfully completed DI's summer computer course.

KK Home Visit:

We visited KK old age home on 5th and provided dinner to all residents. As planned, we sang some songs and danced too :) One of the Paati's sang a very good prayer song. We served idlies and coffee and spent nice time with them all. I will share the snaps with all of you soon.

In case if you have been wondering, KK Children home visit is being done monthly by TCS - Morgan Team. I am in touch with them and things are running smoothly.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer school admissions - An Interview with Padmaja

I was half way thru my vacation sitting in a hotel room, and talking to Padmaja on phone. The recent developments in the Mumbai team seemed very interesting, what with many of our students completing their tenth standard examinations and applying for various colleges. Padmaja has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and it was good to have her talk about them. Here are some excerpts...

Padmaja (P): Geeta was so confused about the course that she should take. She is very confident that she does NOT want to do Arts or Commerce. And she does want to do engineering, but was kind of apprehensive, considering she would have to cope with the English language and also four years of engineer AFTER her junior college ends. She was so confused that she took inputs from many many people.

Varun (V): It is good, that she is concentrating so much on her education and her career paths. What do her parents think about engineering?

P: Her parents seem totally co operative, but I am slightly concerned. Engineering means she would have to give up her part time jobs and study another 6 years from now (incl junior college) and I hope she and her parents are able to take that kind of stress. Especially her father. He is all hunky dory when talking in front of us, but behind closed doors, he really does not appreciate the need to spend so much time and money on education. That is what worries me.
On the other hand, Shubham from Borivali seems to take his career very easily. Right now, Geeta is the most determined of the lot.

V: How about the Andheri pada? What is happpening there?

P: Lalita has scored decent marks and so has Aarti. But these people are so irresponsible. They do not even have caste certificates with them.

V: Uh oh...And what is happening on that front across the centers?

P: Everywhere it is the same story. Geeta also did not have it. I had to literally scold her parents and tell them to make sure the certificate is ready - by hook or by crook - within 2 days. The applications are all online this year and I had already categorised Geeta's caste in it. Then luckily, her parents did act soon and got the certificate readied and delivered on time. On the contrary, when I told Arti's parents to get these done, they asked me if I can help them do it. I said I wont and that they should do that at least themselves. We were supposed to meet in a couple of days but they didn't turn up, nor did they intimate me. How many times does one follow up in such cases!
We have to understand that while these girls have done well to surpass the expectation of their communities and score decent marks, these marks are not good enough to get them admission into good colleges. We have to leverage the caste certificates.

V: Hmm... This caste thing...we have to make sure that after all these admissions are done with, we should explain about the caste certificates to the kids and also open up some topic on reservations in education, jobs etc. and if they are needed or not. And if needed, on what grounds. Anyways...what about Raju's daughters? They have certificates?

P: One of the best things to happen there is that Jayasundari has secured 80%. Though it is lesser than what I expected her to score (I was hoping more of 85%), it is very good indeed. But caste certificate? None! And Raju said that even if he got one made from Tamil Nadu and sent it, there might be issues as it is issued from Tamil Nadu. Good point. And when I asked them to go meet a lawyer to get an affidavit done, they were so reluctant, they were not used to roaming around at all, not been beyond the Marol area, so they were apprehensive when I suggested to them this lawyer that I knew, who spoke good Tamil. But they did make it at the end...

V: You said something about admissions being online this year?

P: Yes, and it is both good and not so good. Good, because we are computerising things and not so good because, these people know nothing about 'online'. We had to thrust it into the kids to let us know at the time they were filling their online applications and we would be there at that time. And despite this, Jayasundari went on and filled the apps on her own and messed it up big time!

V: What are you saying??? What did she do?

P: I had given her the list of colleges that she should apply to and in what order. She gave the absolute reverse order as her order of preference.

V: Oh, that could have been corrected later on...surely?

P: You think so? We were running from pillar to post for a week at the admissions office. Finally, that lady looking at my sorry face, came up with a solution that could have been suggested long time back. She rejected the application, so that it opened up in 'edit' mode for Jayasundari again, and she was able to change the order! Phew! It was a close call. But finally, all the applications are done and we have to wait with fingers crossed for the results... Meanwhile, we also had a felicitation ceremony for the Borivali kids and the Andheri kids at the pada. Many children and a few parents turned up for the event. The children were given school bags as gifts and also some sweets at the end. Overall, it was a very happy scene that reflected the entire efforts of DI and the kids over the past one year!

V: Thanks Padmaja, for talking with us for such a long time. Really appreciate the efforts that you have put in. It has not been easy and is definitely not, considering that the parents also act in a lackadaisical manner, it is very very difficult to keep up the focus. You have done that admirably!