The Spirit for Sports

RDF puts in a lot of work to go beyond classroom education and arm children with real life skills that will benefit them. Therefore, a lot of effort is put into training teachers, who in turn, mentor children to develop skills that can truly help them in higher education and careers, thus providing them with tools to break the bonds of poverty that they live in. One such route is through sports coaching. We are extremely proud to have produced several District, State, National and even International level players in various sports. All credit goes to the excellent coaching provided by the Physical Education Teachers and the determination and perseverance of students to put in the hard yards and do the very best they can.

Recently, 7 students from RDF Rollakal School participated in Sports School selection competition in Hanamkonda at JNS Stadium. We are very happy that 6 students were selected to the State level Sports School competition. Every year, RDF children make it in sports schools across the state where they can focus on sports and academics together, ultimately getting an entry in Government jobs – a stable source of income and financial freedom for the family!

We feel really happy at the achievement of our students and appreciate the hard work being put in the school’s PET, a well trained teacher, who works patiently with the children each day, giving guidance and instructions concerning every game and sport being played by the children. You can see the dedication from the children, as young as Primary School level, when they come in before school and stay back after school to practice, without being asked to! Now that is motivation!

Such selections have a positive impact on the entire community because other students feel inspired and the ripple effect ensures that they too start focusing more on sports! In addition, time spent outdoors is good for the body, mind and spirit – therefore an atmosphere of good health is also created.

We look forward to the bright future of all these children, who so richly deserve the best that life can offer them!

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The Games Children Play!

Given a chance, everyone would play, not just children, but adults too! But to children, play comes naturally and encouraging this natural instinct is something we wanted to do for all RDF children. Therefore, creating playgrounds and encouraging indoor and outdoor games and sports is something we take seriously, pun not intended!

Unfortunately, we see a lot of stress being created in schools where play time is seen as a waste of time. Even in rural areas, we see children spend more time playing games on their phones, than play outdoors. But RDF kids get plenty of opportunities to play as we know that classroom based education, while an important part of the curriculum, is not sufficient to create healthy and happy individuals.

Children come in before school to play badminton, football, volleyball and cricket and do the same after school too. They voluntarily choose to spend their leisure time at play, either outside or indoors. Games build crucial physical and mental fitness. Instead of being indoors, cooped up for long hours, our children get plenty of break time, stretch their muscles and flex their mental muscles too! They say it’s one reason why they love coming to school so much. Many times, teachers join in on the fun too!

In the photos, children of Redlawada School are seen having a great time on the swings that were recently placed in the playgrounds. We love the sound of laughter or the sight of focused silence as children ponder their carom or chess boards! Seeing such vitality makes us feel good about the work we do! Happy kids, happy teachers, happy us!!

Chandra Rising!!

The paths to responsibility and leadership are many and sometimes they remain unseen and eventually move from shadow into the light. Such was the case with young Chandrakala who joined the Mandal Parishad Primary School 3 years ago as a Class 1 student. She spent much of her first year in the school crying to go home and was very unhappy being sent to school. Her teachers tried very hard to make her comfortable. They allowed her to go home on some occasions, while on others, they tried to get her to mingle with her classmates and other times, they gave her space to be on her own. She was so miserable, that sometimes she even refused to come into the classroom, preferring to keep to herself outside.

The teachers and the H.M. know that the journey to accepting life in school, after being home with parents is a different one for each child. They truly wanted Chandrakala to take to school at her own pace, in her own time. Her parents, particularly her father was puzzled by this approach as he felt children just need to adjust and took her lack of adjustment as a failure on the teachers’ part. But the teachers knew what they were doing and asked her parents to be patient with her and them.

Several months later, with time and continuing care and comfort being given by teachers, Chandrakala began to attend classes on her own.  This was a big milestone! As she started to come to class voluntarily, she started to mingle with her classmates and her comfort level grew more. By the end of the year, she was working hard in academics and proved to be a revelation in her reading, writing and speaking ability – she was gifted in picking up things fast! Not only that, she had a natural ability at leading charge too – she volunteered to collect and distribute notebooks, she helped her classmates with classwork and homework and loved her role as a class leader! Her teachers were amazed with her turnaround. She obviously loved school now and started to participate actively in sports and cultural activities too. It was as if she was making up for lost time – such was her energy and enthusiasm to do everything!

The biggest turnaround was in the attitude of her father, who had complained so much about the school. Now seeing his daughter’s progress, he felt very humbled and personally apologised to the teachers and the H.M. He thanked them for showing his daughter the patience and kindness that he could not and expressed gratitude to TMF and RDF for receiving training to understand children’s unique nature and giving them space to grow. So exemplary was Chandrakala’s performance, that the school gave her a double promotion to Class 3! Her parents have now enrolled her brother in the same school, in class 3; so the brother and sister happily study together!

We are very proud of our teachers for their effort and investment in each student and letting the children blossom!

 

Ripe for Skype!

Do you all recall the thrill of 1st using technology and being able to live call and chat with friends and family? While in urban areas, technological advances are growing by leaps and bounds, our rural counterparts are trying to catch up! Lack of public resources has only given us more impetus to help rural, underprivileged children studying in RDF schools achieve some tech advancements of their own! So we have left no stone unturned to set up computer labs in every school, with the gracious support of individuals and corporate sponsors who believe in our vision and truly want to help these children achieve their potential.

Our education partner, Silver Oaks, has been helping our teachers and students through onsite review and coaching visits, including visits by our teachers to their school. However, we felt that this support structure can be further strengthened through using technology and we arrived at ..Skype calls! Though city dwellers are intimately acquainted with Skype, it is brand new for rural children and they were understandably very excited by this!

The Silver Oaks team set up a Skype call between some of their students and RDF students who wanted queries on leadership skills and electoral processes answered and the team was more than happy to help! RDF children were thrilled to see the Silver Oaks students live during the video call and marvelled at the technology that enabled them to speak and see others live – it was a milestone moment for everyone!

Our aim is to always show them ways that anything they want to learn and know is within their reach and go beyond textbook education. We feel so heartened at this level of ongoing support and care that we receive and know how much this impacts our children in many positive ways!

Training Ground for Achievements

Masters of martial arts!

The popular saying ‘Practice makes Perfect’ may sound like a cliché but it holds absolutely true! Coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, with few resources to aid them, RDF children are very aware that if they want to reach their goals in life, they need to put in hard work and practice.

Kabaddi practice!

We have seen that these children are so passionate about what they take up – be it academics, sports or extracurricular work – that putting in the hours of practice is like breathing – they do it without a need to be told. They are extremely aware that the circumstances that they live in are very hard and that a life out of poverty is attainable through education and developing the necessary skills to accomplish their goals of a good career and financial security.

Yoga perfection!

The teachers also work hard right alongside the children, mentoring them every step of the way. The children happily come to school before hours and stay back after hours too, if needed, in order to practice and perfect whatever they are working at. It is this level of attention to detail and commitment that makes RDF children perform well at Mandal, District, State and National level competitions. In the story today, we have shared photos from Redlawada School – children engrossed in practicing different activities.

Building computer skills

We are very proud of this environment of care, compassion, skill building and achievement that is present across RDF institutions. It is a testament to the dedication of the local school teams, the children and their communities who believe in us, just as we believe in them!

Securing our Girls & their Future

It is a reality of life in India that in many families, educating a girl and more importantly, continuing their education after school is a leap of faith and bucking the ill serving traditions that define gender based roles for boys and girls. RDF institutions play a strong emphasis on girl child education and the school teams champion this cause passionately. Over the years, with our efforts, we have seen many families reconsidering their views about educating girl and being very interested in providing good education to their daughters. However, they still worry about their safety and security. In that regard, RDF institutions are beacons of trust in the local community, so parents are assured that their daughters are in good hands!

JC girls greening their beloved campus!

The journey from a school to a Junior College often entails girls living away from their parents for the first time. Wanting the best of the girls means that they need to stay in a hostel. The RDF VAPV Junior College has become renowned for its quality of education and facilities being provided to its students, including hostel facilities. Till recently, the junior college had 6 rooms in the girls hostel and had to turn down requests for hostel accommodation due to lack of space. Parents from surrounding villages entreated the college team to expand the hostel facilities for girls. Since RDF is also a charitable institution that relies on donations to run, we also needed the requisite funds for construction.

With new donations, we are now constructing a new girls hostel block with 10 rooms. Like all RDF amenities, top level care will go into the ambience of this hostel too – good ventilation, spacious rooms, bed and study tables, which helps students feel comfortable and study in a homely atmosphere.

Special seminars and motivational classes for girls is also on the anvil, such as Leadership Skills, Self Help Programmes and Women’s Empowerment workshops – all with the aim of educating, engaging and empowering girls.

The local communities are very happy with these developments, as are we, as we aim to widen the scope of girl child education and our social impact on empowering rural communities and of course, the strong daughters of these communities! 

A Juicy Discussion!

It’s a great pleasure for us to see children take charge of their own learning and development. It shows that they feel confident and empowered to do so, which in turn, makes us feel that we must be doing something right!

Raju, a Class 8 student from Matendla School brought a large lemon into school one day and handed it to his Science teacher. This local variety, called ‘Sudi Nimmakaya’ has many medicinal properties and he wanted to explain this to his classmates, plus learn more about it from the teacher. The teacher, being familiar with the uses of the fruit was pleasantly surprised by Raju’s initiative. He went on to explain that this variety of lemon is a natural and ayurvedic medicine for the natural removal of kidney stones, without the use of harsh allopathic medicines.

That led to a vigorous discussion on other fruits and how they are being used to help with various ailments. It was a talkative and engaged class, buzzing with ideas and information! Isn’t this how we want our classrooms and children to be? Curious, eager and engaged? There’s so much more to learning, beyond textbooks!

The children went home and told their parents and elders about this fruit. So a humble lemon brought in by a curious student, has now impacted so many villages. Kidney stones afflict many people and we really hope that the knowledge shared by our students with their local communities will really help them when the need arises!