Thursday, 31 May 2012

Reality Gives News...Guitar class and other activities

The three coaches of our football program Arnand, 
Sunita and Meena (from the left) joined 
the first guitar session.
During May Mumbai turns into a different world: it's becoming extremely hot and extremely empty(relatively meant). Many migrants from the rural areas of India go home to visit their families and to escape the urban heat. Our Youth Empowerment Program as well as the computer classes take a break until June to start fresh and enthusiastic into the rain season.

But our kids don't want to take a break. They still want to learn and do activities with us. So we decided to keep the doors of the Community Center and office open for them. And we started with a lot of new specialities in our program.

One new project is the guitar class. After we asked our friends and fans on Facebook we happily received six guitars from our very generous supporters - thank you for this! On the 7th May we finally started with the weekly music session. Smit, a passionate guitar player who came up with the great idea of starting a guitar class, volunteered to teach 12 kids. "Some of them are very talented. I'm sure in just one month with regular practice they will play much better than I do", Smit said after the first session. 
Smit in his first guitar session. 
The Boy with the green cap is Neelesh.  
Smit was very impressed by his talent.
The rest of the week the Community Center is open for the kids to use the library, computers and the new table games we have. Our new project coordinator Sana looks after them. A few times a week some kids come together to start Carrom competitions. For all Non-Indians: Carrom is a table game from India and is also called finger billiard. Two teams of two people each play against each-other and try to "pocket" their disks into the corners, using the fingers. 

And since we realized in the last months how much the kids love to draw, paint and photograph and how talented they are (our exhibition was the best example) we expanded the art class to three sessions per week. Now our Office is more colorful than ever before. 

Our office with a new look.
All these paintings are created by the students of the art class.

Beginning of June the Youth Empowerment Program will start again but the activities won't finish. In fact we are thinking about new activities all the time. If you have an idea or you want to start a project like for example Smit did, get in contact with us:

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Reality Gives News...v-shesh and ELS teacher research nutrition in Dharavi

Reality Gives teachers Malika and Asma have been interviewing households in Dharavi about health and nutrition. As part of a research project being undertaken by v-shesh, an organisation dedicated to connecting youth and women to income opportunities, our teachers are being employed during the summer season to undertake this survey work.
"This is fabulous experience for the teachers" according to Lakshmi, Headmistress of the Reality Gives English Language Support Program. The teachers will be undertaking home visits as part of the interviews. "This will be good practice for conducting academic home visits in this new school year."
This kind of community interaction will be a much larger focus of our English Language Support Program in the next year as we try to encourage more parent involvement in our students' education. This makes it very helpful to have teachers with formal experience in conducting these types of visits.
The research is part of a study to gauge the extent of malnutrition amongst the BOP population, especially children in the age group 0-3 years, in Maharashtra. The survey will be used to understand different aspects of the household living, such as current food habits of the families, foods consumed by mother, children and other household members, the kind of food products they get from anganwadis and whether they are actually consumed, methods of food cooked by the families, affordability, etc.
The results of the nutrition survey will help paint a picture of what kind of nutritional supplements could be given to the children in future which could help them increase their nutritional levels and affordability. We'll keep you posted as the results are published!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Reality Gives News...Wall Painting Project

Before the painting at 7am in the morning!
After the painting at 11am in the morning!
Ten students from Reality Gives' programs in Dharavi joined together with 8 street children and their parents to complete two wall segments. The first mural shows the trees and waters that are found in Mumbai highlighting the message "keep us clean" with the dream of seeing a cleaner Mumbai. The second shows a colorful and happy home...which some of the children who were painting for the project do not have. 

Summer and Arnand (our girls football teacher) start to paint

Himanshu (art teacher) and Kavita (ELS teacher) working on the other wall.

 "The morning had a really wonderful community engagement feel to it. Other painters were sharing supplies, tips and snacks and it was especially wonderful to be able to engage the families living on the streets there. Afterall, this really is their home that we were decorating.", Summer who were painting with the kids was telling. 

Reality Gives, in partnership with Bombay Underground, is hoping to work more with the Matunga street children for future art projects.
The wall gets more and more colorful!

The kids from our Dharavi community and street kids working together.
The result was very pretty!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Reality Gives project...Dharavi Girls Football Program

Two weeks ago we finally started the Yuwa Girls Football Program in Dharavi. Every morning at 6am three coaches receive around 12 to 20 enthusiastic girls in the age of six to 14 in the Reality Gives Community Center in Dharavi. In the following two hours the girls run, sing, play and kick the ball until they are breathless.
The girls get slowly a feeling for the ball. 

Little team games before the ball rolls.
Reality Gives started this unique football program in cooperation with Yuwa, an organization with roots in Jharkhand, a state infamous for child marriage, human trafficking and lack of opportunities for girls. Yuwa started its first football club in February 2009, providing an escape from the day-to-day grind of their lives. Through football, Yuwa has gotten girls back into school, and is combating child marriage and human trafficking. It has since expanded to 250 girls covering 15 villages. Three girls are even playing in the national Girls Football team(U-13 and U-14).

A lot of girls play barefoot since they just have slippers.
All players have to attend 4 month to be eligible for shoes.
Sunita practices the header with the girls.
Now Reality Gives brings the success of the grass root project of Yuwa to Dharavi with the target to empower young girls to take charge of their own future – and of the project itself! Because the girls are responsible for planning the trainings schedules and for saving for equipment they bring a energy to the program that you don't see in most sports programs. They also have to save about a third of the price of balls and shoes through team-run savings cooperatives, which builds dedication to the program. Every Player gets eligible for shoes after four months of attendance of 20-plus days/month.

The boys watch from the side - unusual scene in India.

The smallest girls are very tough and enthusiastic.
 The three coaches Anand (23), Meena (15) and Sunita (16) came from the Yuwa program in Jharkhand to run the project in the first months. Anandhas been with Yuwa from the beginning in 2009 and has grown form a youth leader to one of two leading coaches of the program. Meena and Sunita have been trained at BaichungBhutia Football Schools in Delhi and at the Tata Football Academy (TFA), India's premier academy.  They are from Yuwa's second team. Meena is very dedicated and has coached more days than any other coach the past 12 months. Her father was shot and killed a couple of years ago, and she uses her grant to support her mother and siblings.
Very often the ball stays at the side while the girls play team games.

All the girls and the coaches.
Even two very small boys we couldn't say no to joined.

Reality Gives and Yuwa hopes to achieve more than just a good football team. The program will target girls who dropped out of school, are neglected at home due to gender inequality and may be at risk for early marriage. To find out more about the girls, their families and living conditions the coaches and the teachers of Reality Gives conduct regular house visits. Reality Gives also aims to involve the girls in the other educational projects they run to show them more opportunities in life and to motivate them to take their own decisions for their future. These programs include computer classes and art classes.

Neha (8) kicks the ball while the others take a break.
"I come every morning to the community center. Then the coaches bring me to the ground. I like the training a lot. I want to be a football coach as well when I'm older", says 8-years-old Neha, one if the most talented girls without any fear of the ball. When the others take a break, she still runs around kicking the ball.

Many girls attend every day, some are less consistent, some just joined. In a few months we will organize our first tournaments which we will also do in public. More about the program, tournaments and the girls soon...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Reality Gives News...Kindergarten closure

After 3 years of wonderful work teaching students using the child-centred approach, Reality Gives has decided to close the doors of Muskaan, our kindergarten. "This was a really difficult decision to make, however we saw that we could impact more children through our English Language Support Program in the local public schools," said Summer Starr, Executive Director or Reality Gives. 

Our Kindergarten teachers will become instructors at the local schools. "Because of this we will be able to expand our services to include 2 more classes and about 120 more students."The English Language Support Program recently finished its first full year of programming in Standards 1 and 2 at Kala Kila Municipal school with amazing results. 

"The standard 1 and 2 children are able to speak small dialogues in English and label objects which some students in standard 7 at the same school do not know." Said Lakshmi, headmistress of the English Language Support Program. One big event for the teachers and students was the exhibition about domestic animals. See a video about the kids explaining their favorite creatures here:

This next year Reality Gives will expand to standard 3 at Kala Kila and will take on standard 1 at another vernacular school in Dharavi. "We feel that it is important to support the health of vernacular schools. While English may be the language of business in India, the vernacular is the language of the community. Students have more support when they learn in the language of their parents. Our goal is to create truly bilingual education so students have the best of both worlds."

We thank all of you who have given your support to Muskaan over the years. All of the materials and training will be used in our new programs at the local schools and we look forward to impacting the lives of even more children in Dharavi.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Reality Tours and Travel News...Prince Andrew visited Dharavi to talk about education and the entrepreneurial strength of the slum

Krishna and Chris are showing the Prince how the workers prepare the clay for the pots
During his one-week visit in India, His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, Duke of York came to see Dharavi, one of Asia’s biggest slums to learn about the benefits and challenges of industry in Dharavi, the issues related to vernacular medium schools in Mumbai, and how art programs are allowing children to explore themselves and their world in Dharavi.

Chris is pointing at a typical residence of Dharavi
The Royal Highness chose to visit Dharavi with Reality Tours and Travel to learn more about the strengths and issues of the slum community as well as to see the impact of the social programs run by Reality Gives. He started his tour in Kumbharwada, the potters’ village of Dharavi to learn about the living and working conditions of its residents. Krishna Pujari, one of the founders of Reality Tours and Travels showed him a typical residence in the densely populated slum. “It’s very clean and well-organized. I didn’t expect this.” the Prince was surprised. Co-founder Chris Way explained that the goal of the tours is to raise awareness about the complex socio-economic and educational issues in Dharavi.

Krishna is presenting the manufactured pots to His Royal Highness

A lot of curious kids were coming to see what's going on

At the end of the tour, the Prince was invited to experience the children’s art class run by Reality Gives in collaboration with Bombay Underground. The class is designed to help the kids express themselves and explore their world while building confidence. 

At the classroom Summer Starr, the Executive Director of Reality Gives spoke with the royal guest about Reality Gives’ English Language Support Project for municipal schools. The initiative, started in 2011, trains women from Dharavi as English Language teachers in a program that reaches 240 students in the 1st and 2nd standards of a local municipal school. The program teaches English language using child-centric learning approaches. While English is a major economic language in India, Reality Gives believes that Indian mother tongues are the languages of the community. The aim is to strengthen local vernacular schools by creating a truly bilingual educational experience in a supportive environment. 

The Royal Highness thoroughly enjoyed the visit and involvement in the educational activity: “It’s wonderful to see an organization giving back to the community.”
At the end of tour the guest is watching the kids art class and is discussing with Summer and Lakshmi the challenges of the English Language Program in vernacular schools

From the left - Lakshmi Vishwanathan (Teacher of Reality Gives), Summer Starr (Executive Director of Reality Gives), Prince Andrew, Chris Way (Founder RTT), Peter Beckingham (British Deputy High Commissioner), Krishna Pujari (Founder RTT)