Thursday, 31 January 2013

Reality Gives Projects...English Language Support Program goes green

Trevor and Charmayne waiting
for the presentation to begin
Reality Gives was very happy to get the help of the two enthusiastic volunteers Charmayne and Trevor from US in the last two weeks. They have visited different sites and wrote several blog articles for us to get updates on the projects. The first one is about the English Language Support Program and its recent project: 

Dharavi has two public schools and Reality Gives has been working with the one in Kala Kila since 2009. Lakshmi Vishwanatham, RG’s head of education for 2+ years has developed an English Language Support Program (ELS) to enrich the curriculum for grades 1-3 since this vernacular school’s classes are only taught in Marathi, the regional language.

Lakshmi oversees ten teachers who get an hour per day with each class to teach English. Her methodology is unique and has provided results: an active learning process that encompasses all of the senses- visual, auditory, speech, and tactile.

Remember language classes during your primary education years? Ever take a foreign-language class? For me it feels like there were hours of repetition of words, writing sentences, and looking at pictures…overall a little mundane.

The students watch the performances of the other grades.
ELS at Kala Kila is different. Students are dropped into an active learning environment that is enjoyable. This school year Lakshmi is using plants as the medium for active English learning. The students have been able to sow seeds, watch the stems and leaves develop, create art projects, and sing songs about how plants grow which has allowed them to learn and use the vocabulary in more practical and memorable fashion.
During the last three weeks the kids learnt how a seed becomes a plant.

This week, the students got to present these projects and put their English skills to practice during the ELS program’s presentation “Growing our Words with Plants.”

The students showed the guests what they learnt.

The room was decorated with the assignments competed by the classes. Students were eager to share their newly acquired vocabulary explaining seeds, flowers, fruits, and  vegetables to the visitors and each class got to sing a plant-related song…in English, of course! They’ve made great progress in their pursuit of learning a new language.

Every student represents a fruit and thus learns to speak open and clear in English.

Another unique aspect about the program is that the teachers get to stay with the same students as they progress from grade to grade. These teachers do not merely teach the children, they get to experience the exciting results of the ELS program.

The whole class sings and performs songs.

They love getting replies and questions from students in English; this shows a student’s development of understanding. Sometimes the teachers will mime an action and students are starting to promptly recognize and state this verb in English. The best result though is found during home visits. Teachers will sometimes be informed by their student’s parents that the student is using English in the home and teaching English words to other siblings and family members. These results continually inspire the teachers and prove the efficacy of the ELS program at Kala Kila.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Reality Gives Stories...The impact of a donation

Shankar tries on his new caliper
Ankita learns to walk with the caliper.


At the beginning of this month the Rickshaw Run Team "Where the tuk is the party" has visited Reality Gives and its partners, read more here. They have brought Rs 70k with them to donate towards various programs. Rs15k went towards the CORP disabled children program and provided two calipers for beneficiaries in need. These are their stories, written by the volunteers Renisha Mall and Vinu Varghese:

Shankar Pujari

As I sit in front of Shankar Pujari, a 24yr old Dharavi resident, I am greeted by him with a big bright smile, as he begins to share his story with me. Shankar, who had been diagnosed with polio at a very young age, has been walking with the help of calipers since the age of 6, after an operation at Haji Ali. He explains his discomfort wearing his present calipers, since they're too short for him & do not support him completely, and was in charms to receive new calipers funded by the Rickshaw Team which fit him perfectly!
He has been visiting the Shalom Center since his 8th std which was almost 7yrs ago, and he says that though he found it difficult at first to blend in with his peers, after his first V.B.S course, he says that the center has been like his second home. Having lost his Father at a young age of 7, and his Mother too no longer able to work due to her deteriorating health, the responsibility of fending for the family falls on Shankar & his older brother, with his older brother being the only earning member of the family. 

But Shankar too strives to do his part for the family, going for Call Center training in Chembur, he earns a monthly stipend. Having failed his 12th Board exams two yrs ago, after much encouragement from the teachers at the Shalom Center, Shankar decided to give his Board exams once again this year. Walking with calipers, preparing for his Board exams along with going for his Call Center training, Shankar's story is indeed, nothing short of an inspiration.

Ankita Adow

Ankita, a girl with a vision to be a teacher, is one of those brave girls who at the age of 8, suffers from polio. When she was just 2 years, she had a sever attack of viral fever that left her legs going stiff. She sits in front of me with the calipers that were just funded by the Rickshaw Team. Her legs are supported by these calipers, heavier than her body can carry. A brave little heart, smiling after every question I ask her, she doesn’t speak a word of the pain and trouble she goes through at a tender age of 8. There are few chances to her get her to walk, after all, ‘Hope is something that the whole world lives on.’ 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Reality Tours and Travel Staff....Meet Steph

One week back Steph, the new CEO of Reality Tours and Travel arrived in Mumbai to start her work. She will explain on our blog what she did before, what she did in her first week and how excited she is for the future to come:

"Hi, my name is Stephanie and I started as the new CEO for Reality Tours and Travel last Monday. Originally, I am from Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA but before moving to Mumbai, I was living in London where I earned my MA in International Tourism Development and Management and then worked for the small-group adventure travel company, G Adventures. I’ve also lived in New York, Amsterdam, and Shanghai. However, I have always wanted to live in India so I couldn’t be more excited to be here!

Mumbai and working for Reality Tours and Travel has been amazing so far. This week I went on the Dharavi Short Tour, the Bicycle Tour, and the Village Tour. All the tours have been so fascinating. The tour guides especially have really impressed me. They add such character to the tours and it has been great to meet them. 

It is really incredible to see what goes on in Dharavi and also the fantastic programs the tours support through Reality Gives. This week I've also watched some of the girls from the football program perform a play at the BMW Guggenheim Lab and at the TEDx Masala event and they were incredible and the piece was very powerful. The bicycle tour was also a really unique way to get to see Mumbai and I loved watching the city wake up.

I have really enjoyed meeting everyone this week and feel extremely lucky to work for such a cool company that is able to give back so much to the community. I can’t wait to help Reality Tours and Travel continue to grow and develop and am really excited for the future!"

Friday, 11 January 2013

Reality Gives Ambassadors...How a smartphone case can help children in Dharavi

By beginning of this week we have introduced you to our Reality Gives Ambassadors from the Rickshaw Race Team 2013. Today we want to tell you the story of our new Ambassador who came up with such a great idea worth reading about.

Christiana left her career behind in Chicago to travel the world in 2012. In India, she had a near death experience from a severe viral infection in her stomach and was carried to the hospital where she was treated for days. When she collapsed and regained consciousness, she couldn’t be more grateful of the medication and vaccinations.

However, outside of the hospital was still lines of people waiting to be treated and she started thinking of those without money for medical treatment or vaccinations in need. At the end of her 1 month stay in India, she came across Reality Gives, where she was exposed to some of the living conditions of the people, and especially small children. That memory resonated with her.

Instead of making an one time donation, she believed in creating a system and this was an opportunity. During the next travel destination, in South Korea, she entered a startup competition and met her current co-founder, DH. He, as a passionate entrepreneur and engineer also believed in well-designed products, and good deeds. With some passion and skills in design, engineering, and social innovation, they decided to start an online business together.

Since July 2012, they officially decided the business model to be a smartphone case shop with a focus on good design & social enterprise. They designed the products, brand and set up the business as well as the non-profit model. Summer from Reality Gives helped made this happen as we were on several calls discussing the needs of the community and potential projects. In lieu of the idea of "protection and design," they explored what types of protective item we can provide particularly for children.

As a result they established an official partnership with Reality Gives and FMCH-India to donate typhoid & de-worming vaccinations to children under the age of 6 in Dharavi Slum as part of our 'Nutrition only Initiative'. With every case the customer purchases on the website one child gets one shot. 

The website launch will happen by end of January. Stay tuned, we will definitely share the great project with you on Facebook

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Reality Gives Ambassadors...The Rickshaw Run Team

The golden and silver Rickshaws of the "Where the tuk is the party" Team

Now it's almost one year ago when we started our Reality Gives Ambassador program and it's fantastic for us to see how great the response is. This week we will feature two great stories about International supporters who fundraise for our projects - either in a very professional or totally crazy way!

Yesterday we hosted the Rickshaw Run Team "Where the tuk is the party". Carla, Willemijn, Joost, Carolien, Suzanne, Frank, all from the Netherlands are currently on a big challenge: They want to travel from Jaisalmer to Kochin in two Rickshaws in two weeks. All by themselves as they have set the route and no one follows them to help if the vehicle breaks down. Even they say it's kind of crazy but "you see India from a totally different perspective when you ride a Rickshaw. You feel, see and smell the country more intensive and we get to know so many nice hospitable people."  

Frank had a lot of fun playing with the girls.
Jost looked at the photo album of the shelter.
All 70 teams who participate in the race have to contribute 1000 Euro towards charitable causes. 50% will go towards drinking water projects in India and the other half to partner projects of Reality Gives. Team member Frank got to know  the Reality Group when he came to Mumbai for work two years back. He was impressed by the tour and the work we are doing. So he proposed to his team to fundraise for our projects. To get the amount together some of them even painted rooms and did other house work for friends and family members. 

The team explains their adventure.
Yesterday when the team finally reached Mumbai they first went on a Dharavi Tour. Afterwards they visited the Barefoot Acupuncture clinic where they donated medical equipement which is needed for a special treatment. Afterwards three of them went for shopping: new cameras for the art program, medical and nutritious supplies for the Sharanam Girls shelter and books for the boys shelter of CORP (Community Outreach Program). The other three team members went to the Basketball training of the girls from Sharanam to get to know them and play with them. 

Afterwards they all met again at the shelter to have dinner with the girls - a much appreciated non-veg meal which they don't get so often and which was also sponsored by the team. But the girls were to busy playing and dancing with the team so they even forgot the food. At the end they also visited the art program and the drama class in our Community centre. 

The rest of the raised money will go towards the program for disabled children and barefoot. We are very grateful for their huge contribution and the fun we had with them during their visit. We wish them also very good luck and fun for the rest of their journey. If you would like to read more about their adventure follow them on Facebook: