Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Reality Gives stories # 7...Youth Empowerment Program students Afreen, Yogeshwar and Sobha

After a break of our Reality Gives stories we are back now with three more YEP students who successfully graduated three weeks back. We wish them and all the other students of this batch very good luck.

Afreen (18)

Afreen's older sister Amreen is a former student of the Youth empowerment Program and encouraged Afreen to sign up. Afreen studies for the HSC in Commerce in the morning and is keen to improve her English and computer skills in the afternoon. Afreen would like to work in banking, bu her parents would prefer her to take on household responsibilities and later get married. 

Yogeshwar (26) 

Yogeshwar passed his HSC in Commerce but family's financial problems meant that he didn't continue his education. Instead he went to work at Matunga Labour Camp as a garment maker for three years. He then applied for a job as an airport security guard. As he did not manage to qualify  he wants to improve his English while he applies for other security jobs both in India and abroad. He is working hard on his conversation skills as he thinks this will improve his job prospects.  

Sobha (18)

Sobha is studying at college for a BCom in Banking and Insurances. She is a dedicated student and attends college classes form 7.30 to 1pm before coming to the Youth Empowerment Program from 2.30pm until 5.30pm. She is enjoying the course but says she is very tired. She actually lives in Sion Koliwada but heard about the course through a friend who lives in Dharavi. She hopes to work in banking in the future. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Reality Gives Projects...Jazz Dance Class

Last Sunday the first session of the jazz dance class took place in the Reality Gives Community Centre. Maria, an American professional dancer who works for a local dance studio and her assistant Deshna volunteer to do regular dance workshops for the kids of Dharavi. 

How to teach 26 kids?
A new challenge for the dance coaches. 
She and the Reality Gives team were very surprised and happy that all together 26 kids came. Their started with some basic jazz moves followed by a short routine to Justin Bieber's "Eanie Meanie". Maria realized soon that these kids are no amateurs.  Their moves were already very good, some even tried to do breakdancing during the two hours session. 

But the boys and the girls were very
disciplined and followed the steps well.
"The first class was great and I already look forward to work with the kids more often. We aim a regular dance class on Sundays and hope that all the participants will come again", Maria said enthusiastically.

A warm-up is important!

Asim also learned some dance-moves,
the kids taught him well!

Some kids are already professionals

Monday, 10 September 2012

Reality Gives News...US-ambassador Nancy J. Powell visits art class of Reality Gives and Bombay Underground

From the left: Falgun, US-ambassador Powell, Sidhu,Vijay,Akshay,Rahul,Laxmi and from the back Yash - the students of the photography class were happy to welcome the very important guest

The residents in Dharavi were very curious and excited when they noticed four white cars with police escort dropping off a very important visitor outside the pottery area “Kumbharwada”. Nancy J. Powell, the USA Ambassador for India, came to Dharavi on Monday 10th September to meet our photography students.

Powell is a passionate photographer.
Krishna explains the working and living conditions of Dharavi.

Powell's second visit to Mumbai since she arrived in India in April was dedicated to meetings with business groups and other associations. To get a break from the formal meetings she came with the general consulate Peter Haas to Dharavi to meet the photography students of the art program of Reality Gives and Bombay Underground. The first female ambassador for India and highest representative of the US foreign services was very happy to explore Dharavi with local slum kids who share her passion for photography. Together they walked from the potter's area to 90 Feet Road and eventually they visited the art room- a regular spot on the Dharavi tours run by Reality Tours and Travel where the children’s photography is exhibited.
Powell came with a lot of police escort.

Police was even placed all over Dharavi.
We are very happy the community supportered us completely.  

A lot of press came to catch a photograph
of the guest as well. 
In July the US Consulate of Mumbai organized a photography trip with the students to visit some famous sights of Mumbai. For Powell's visit Reality Gives exhibited the best photos from this day. The Ambassador was very impressed by the well taken pics which will be displayed at the US Consulate in Bandra East in October. "These young photographers are very talented. I'm already looking forward for the photos of today", said Powell for good bye. 

More photos on

The ambassador visiting the kids photography exhibition.

The kids were very impressed by Powell's big camera.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Reality Gives Stories #6...The English Language Support Teachers

Today is Teachers Day in India and we would like to thank all our teachers for their great work towards quality education for the children of Dharavi! Without you Reality Gives wouldn't have such a good connection to the community of Dharavi and such a great impact!

We would also like to use this occasion to introduce our readers to our English Language Support teachers who teach the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades of the Marathi Medium School Kala Killa in Dharavi in English. Everyday from 9am to 5pm they sing, dance and speak English with the kids. As a result these youngsters speak better English than the students from the 7th grade of the same school and even better than the students of the English Medium School in the same building - according to the teachers. 

All our teachers are from Dharavi or similar backgrounds and enjoy the opportunity Reality Gives gave them. We appreciate their hard work and enthusiasm and hope for many more years at the ELS program!

Malika (24)

Malika joined Reality Gives in 2009. First she went through the one year long training of Muktangan, an alternative child-centered teaching method which offers high quality education at low costs for underprivileged parts of the society. Malika lives in the papad area of Dharavi which is very close to our Community Centre and art room. She is married and has one son who is 4 1/2 years old. She teaches him also in English and it makes her proud to see him speaking much better than his friends. She says she misses to teach at the kindergarten which Reality Gives has run until march 2012 but she likes to work with the students of the 3rd grade at Kala Killa as well. She always wanted to become a teacher and when we see her singing and dancing with the kids we 100% believe her! 

Savithri (21)

Savithri went through a great development since she started in 2009. Krishna who is her uncle and the founder of Reality Gives brought her from her village in Karnataka to Mumbai so that she can look forward for a brighter future. And she didn't let him down: next to her work at the kindergarten and now the ELSP where she teaches the 1st and 2nd grade she also did the accounts for these projects and also studies for her Bachelor of commerce. She says it's not as busy as it sounds. Although she's the only teacher who didn't go through the Muktangan training she is still great with the kids because she learned a lot from the other teachers. She currently lives in Thane which is almost two hours away from Dharavi. 

Mujassum (20)

Mujassum is very passionate about her work and loves to work with the "cute" kids she says. We appreciate her enthusiasm a lot since she regularly posts pictures of the lessons on the Reality Gives Facebook profile. She started in January 2009 and went also through a one year long Muktangan training. Besides teaching the 2nd grade at Kala Killa she also studies for her Bachelor of Commerce but she says it's not very stressful because she always studies for the exams last minute. Next year she will graduate and then her parents also want her to get married. "It makes me proud to see that our students from a Marathi Mediam School speak a better English than the kids from the English Medium School upstairs", Mujassum says. 

Shashi (26)

Shashi started with her Muktangan training in 2010 before she became a kindergarten teacher at the Balwadi of Reality Gives. She's very new to the ELS program and also misses the younger kids a lot. "It's a new approach since we have less time and the kids are older. Also it was difficult for me because I didn't know Marathi very well", she says. But now she starts enjoying it as she observes that the kids change during her lessons and get more receptive. She currently lives with her family in Dharavi but they also want her to get married soon. Before she came to Reality Gives she worked for a private school in Dharavi but already left after less than six months because she didn't like the teaching methods. 

Sujata (28)

Sujata started with Shashi and is also very new to the ELSP at Kala Killa. She was the only teacher during the interviews who said she doesn't miss the kindergarten because she doesn't feel a big difference. She says the kids give a very good response by singing the songs more actively and speaking more compared to the beginning. She also worked for other educational NGO's before in the north of Mumbai where she has grown up and lived with her parents. But after she got married she moved to Dharavi . She has a seven months young baby which she misses a lot while working but she says it's great to come home in the evening to be there for her son. She says the only difficulty she had was speaking Marathi but she learned it from the students!

Asma (27)

Asma is a little bit shy but a very great person. She also started in 2010 with the Muktangan training after Mujassum advised her to apply for the position. She's one of the teachers who were working for the ELS program from the beginning. She now teaches the 3rd grade after starting with the 2nd grade last year. She says the students are very receptive for the teaching methods - they sing louder, speak better and clearer and became less shy. "On our home visits the parents even told us that the kids sing our English songs loud at home", she says happy. She also mentions that the other teacher's of the Marathi Medium school are very nice and actually adapt their methods of teaching by singing, sitting in groups and use special cards.

Sarita (20)

Sarita started in 2009 after being a Youth Empowerment student at the Reality Gives community centre together with Kavita and Mujassum. She is also new to the ELSP and teaches currently the 1st grade. Although she gets slowly more comfortable she misses the kindergarten a lot because she says it was more fun there. Her family is originally from Uttar Pradesh but she was born and brought up in Dharavi. She always wanted to become a teacher and wants to continue as long as she can. She says the other teachers are a little shy but very curious to get to know their teaching methods. She also mentions that the kids' English skills get better and better and that makes her very proud of her work.

Kavita (21)

Kavita is all around: first she was a Youth Empowerment Program student, then she became a teachers and for some months she was also managing the library program of our Community Centre. She loves to work with kids and it always seems like she's more their friend than their teacher. She currently teaches the 2nd grade and says it's more difficult than the 1st grade which she was teaching last year. She also misses the kindergarten because there the teachers had more possibilities for their activities. At Kala Killa everything needs an official permission and that makes it difficult. Kavita has grown up in Kumbharwada, the pottery area of Dharavi where she still lives with her family. 

Radha (25)

Radha started with Reality Gives in 2009 together with Malika. It's also her first year at Kala Killa and she misses the kindergarten too. But she says the students of her 1st standrad are nice and she gets used to it very soon. Since she didn't work before she joined Reality Gives she enjoys to be a teacher a lot. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and says also it was not hard to study and work because Reality Gives made it very easy for her. At the moment, she say is not much to do for all the teachers because the kids fall very often sick and stay at home during the rains season. Therefore she and her colleagues visits the parents at home to find out about the situation there.