Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Reality Gives Projects...Project Front Foot Season 2012/13

In the past year, thanks to the generosity of individuals, clubs and counties, Project Front Foot and the dedicated founder Vic Mills have been able to transport 350 kilos of donated clothing and kit to Mumbai; a huge undertaking that would not have been possible without the continued support of British Airways. 

After providing kit to our U14 and U18 squads, the surplus was placed with orphanages and NGOs in Mumbai and residential schools around Maharashtra. 

To our established coaching team, Bhavana and Harshad, we were able to add the services of Pete Woolcock a sports graduate from Liverpool University who assisted Bhavana and Harshad in implementing new coaching drills and was on hand to set up and run PFF’s first ever fitness tests.  Asim, Reality Gives Community Centre manager remained the conduit between the kids, coaches and our sister NGO Reality Gives. 

The new intake of juniors reacted with energy and enthusiasm to the enhanced coaching regime. It was in the U18 squad, however, where project progress was most noticeable with ten of the 35-player squad graduating to the ranks of the Gymkhana U23s. This is the transition from junior to senior cricket we had hoped for and have been working towards for the past four years. And what better role model for the younger players of where hard work and dedication can lead. 

U14 team, enthusiastic and motivated.

Thanks to the work of Bhavana and Harshad, several of the U18 squad are themselves now working as paid coaching assistants around the Mumbai cricket scene. 

Find space to conduct the trained remained the main issue. Where once there were seven cricket grounds within walking distance of Dharavi there are now just two! A short fifteen minute walk for the children, the Indian Gymkhana Ground offers a safe haven for our teams to learn and play the game. 

The season started with a great match in November: our U14 team achieved a resounding six wicket win against Poda School U14s in the suburbs of Mulund. 

In mid-January the coaches organised an U18 trial match. From this a team was selected for its first competitive game of the season against an XI from the NGO Salaam Bombay.

The new fitness tests, developed by Pete.

In early March we were able to bolster project kit in Mumbai with Reality Gives co-founder, Chris Way, taking a further hundred kilos courtesy of British Airways. A final frosty Sunday morning repack revealed a total of 280 T-shirts, a dozen wooden stumps, eights sets of plastic stumps, 7 bats, 5 pairs of pads, 18 pairs of batting gloves, 2 cricket balls, 20 tennis balls, 3 boxes and 2 arm guards. 

In March attendance was not at its best because the kids had to study for their annual school exams. But school must take precedence as PFF encourages the participating kids to put all necessary efforts into their studies. 

April ended with the Indian Gymkhana Ex-Cricketers’ Association Awards Day. Voted the PFF Player of the Season by our coaches, Samir collected his award from a BCCI member. 

Cricket club secretary, Mr K Satya Murthy awards Samir as player of the season.

As the season wound down with children, coaches and the Gymkhana’s mali looking towards ominously rain-filled skies, the project received a timely end of term boost with Indian shoe giant BATA agreeing to provide bats, balls and footwear through their Children’s Programme for the start of next season.  

With the dust now settling on our fourth season in Mumbai, I can report that planning is already underway for the next. Chris will be taking further kit to Mumbai in early August, while Vic follow with the balance in late October. 

Project Front Foot would like to thank its generous donors and kit collectors: Lindum CC, Kent Cricket Board, Northants CCC, Collingham CC, Nottinghamshire CCC, Derbyshire Cricket Board, Yorkshire Cricket Board and the Nottingham Tennis Centre as well as St Michael & All Angels Church in Barnes, Jennifer and Jon Goodwin-Bresslaw, AkzoNobel staff via Tim Gill’s age defying Paris Marathon efforts and of course Britsh Airways. 

To read the full report visit www.realitygives.org/PFF_season_report_2013.pdf

Friday, 5 July 2013

Reality Gives Connection Projects...The Dharavi Art Room

The Dharavi Art Room has been almost established as its own brand. Every child in the by us called "papad area" (as most women living in this area produce the famous crispy papads) know the colourful room above a resident's house which is run by Bombay Underground.

Mayur painting the inside of a temple in Dharavi,
During the school vacation in April and May we have been running the art classes every day, conducting activities such as drawing and painting on canvas, wall painting, making crafts out of old plastic bottles, origami folding etc. And of course we continually do our photography workshops.

In fact the photos shot in the last year have been so amazing that we decided to organise a second exhibition at the False Ceiling Gallery in Bandra. "Mumbai 17 - A Dharavi Art Room Exhibition" aimed to break down the negative image people have of slum communities (heard that before somewhere didn't you?) by showcasing the optimistic point of view of the kids in Dharavi. The photo selection was colourful, happy and surprisingly professional (a surprise for the visitor, not for us of course).

The exhibition at False Ceiling Gallery in Bandra.
Like last year we also invited the students of the art program to Bandra to see their art hanging in the unfamiliar environment of the gallery. The kids had such a great Sunday afternoon playing housey-housey (Indian bingo) and going on Bandra neighbourhood photo walks.

We also invited supporters and volunteers to join the photo walks. One of them was the expat blogger Bombay Jules who had such a great experience that she shared it with her fans on her blog and requesting them to donate their old cameras. She collected nine cameras within a few weeks.

The 'great wall of Dharavi' in the Dharavi Art Room
We also got very good press coverage this time. Besides others Mumbai Mirror, Midday, Afternoon and Indian express covered our exhibition as well as the Dharavi Art Room story in their papers.

End of May we also exhibited a smaller selection of photos at the Breakfast Club Bandra.

All in all we were so happy with the program development in May that we continued with the daily classes in June. Due to the rains and the start of the school year less kids joined during the week so from July onwards we will only have whole-day programs on Saturdays and Sundays. We are very happy that a lot of volunteers recently supported the activities and bring new fresh ideas into the program. 

Find photos of the art room activities on our Facebook page, the official Dharavi Art Room facebook page and the Dharavi Art Room Blog.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Reality Gives Projects...Parents meeting at the English Language Support Program

After the first two weeks of school, the teachers and program manager Lakshmi felt the importance to meet the parents in a first introduction meeting on Saturday, June 29th. There were many reasons behind this decision:

First, the necessity to create a dialogue between the community and the school – one of the major objectives of the project. In our vision, families and school should cooperate in all aspects regarding the children’s lives.

Second purpose was to explain the reasons behind our different educational approach, which is based on an active, group-centred and child-focused learning.

Some parents were already asking: “Where are the books? I cannot see any homework on my child’s notebooks! What kind of classes are you offering?” We are happy that the parents noticed that our approach is significantly different. Now it's our turn to show them that it can work!

In order to ensure clarity and to involve parents in our project, we divided the parents in three big groups: parents of first standard, senior kindergarten and junior kindergarten students. Every group of parents had the possibility to explore the classroom set-ups, interact directly with the teachers and to see the notebooks of their children and all the activities, which were conducted in the first two school weeks. 

After the tour, Lakshmi and the teachers formally explained the origin of the collaboration between Reality Gives and the Royal City School and the values we stand for. The teachers as well as our teaching methods were introduced. Lakshmi also explained the importance of English, taught through interactive activities created to connect with the daily life of the children. They will learn every subject not through books and the teachers' monologues, but through games which associate with their experiences outside of the school.

“Writing will be the last thing that they will learn. First, we care about their comprehension. We deeply care whether they understand the meaning of words and the contents we teach. Once they get the meaning, they can start write. Otherwise, it will be just a senseless exercise" explained Lakshmi.

After that the parents were encouraged to ask questions and express their concerns. Some of them were happily impressed by our care and way of teaching. Others were asking if there was a need for tuitions after school. The entire team assured them that there is no reason to pay for additional education as the school time should ensure that all educational needs are met. Some parents were still concerned and sceptical. It will be our aim to convince them in the following months.

More than 175 parents attended the parents meeting. The debates were passionate, parents and families continually tried to communicate their different opinions. We know it is a long and challenging way, but we also think that this meeting was the real beginning of a community involvement.