Archive for January, 2011

Euro School visit

Euro School staff follow RDF Kalleda School's honour guard to assembly


On Tuesday January 25th, Euro School, a private school based in Hyderabad, sent sixty students along with ten staff to visit RDF Kalleda School. The visit was set up with the aim to set up a more involved partnership between the two schools and engage in a cultural exchange of urban and rural school cultures.

The day started with assembly, and then the group set up into smaller groups to tour the premises and observe classes. RDF and Euro School students sat together at lunch and shared a meal. Ranjita Rao, the principal of Euro School, was particularly excited, since it was the first time she had been able to bring students to accompany her on such a visit. When asked what she was hoping to gain out of the visit, she stated “I hope Euro School students can learn from RDF students in areas of discipline and positive attitudes.” She was also excited to facilitate an exchange of ideas between students at both schools and inculcate the idea of ‘giving back’ in Euro School students.

Euro School students and RDF students sitting back to back at lunchtime

Euro School students seemed amazed at RDF’s culture. Tanvi Akanksha, a sixth class student at Euro School, said she was excited to learn about RDF students behavior in the classrooms and also to see how different their lives were than the RDF students.” Another Euro School student commented that “she was amazed to see even Nursery students recycling paper in arts and crafts projects.” She left feeling very inspired.

By the end of the day, Euro School students seemed excited to go home and brainstorm ideas for how they could further collaborate with RDF. RDF is looking forward to continuing this wonderful partnership.

Republic Day celebrations

Republic Day Fun

Recently, all RDF schools celebrated India’s national holiday Republic Day, a day that commemorates the anniversary of India’s constitution coming into effect as the governing document of India on January 26, 1950.

For the joyous occasion, celebrations take the form of Games Days across schools all over the nation. At RDF, games played include Kho Kho, Kabbadi, Skipping, Badminton, Running, Volleyball, and table tennis. For the primary school classes, other games include spoon races, caram, and chess.


Skipping at RDF Wadlakonda School


Spoon Races at RDF Wadlakonda School

Badminton at RDF Wadlakonda School

The goal of these Games Days is to emphasize physical fitness, develop confidence and leadership skills, and of course have FUN. Another element of fun included the freedom of not wearing a uniform for a day!

RDF Documentary in the making!

Ramya shooting an interview with Ravi Yaganti, SAO

Ramya Ravi and Sethu Sethuraman, are the creative geniuses behind one of RDF’s latest projects – a documentary that will introduce the Rural Development Foundation to the world!

Ramya has been acknowledged by the World Wildlife Federation for a documentary she created to spread the hope of a sustainable world. Sethu comes to RDF with a 30 year career as a professional photographer. Both of them were inspired by RDF’s work and opted to make this documentary to highlight the amazing work RDF is doing in video form.

Sethu giving direction for the shooting

Sethu was especially inspired by the Youth Empowerment Program, since it uses the medium of photography and visuals to engage the students creatively in social issues.

RDF is extremely grateful for the amazing amount of time and work Ramya and Sethu have put in into making this documentary a possibility. The passion they have exuded throughout the process is truly inspiring.

We look forward to seeing the results of their hard work upon completion! Stay tuned to the RDF blog for more updates.

Staff Profile: Chebelli Cheralu

Chebelli Cheralu first joined RDF in 2007 as an English and Social Studies teacher at RDF Redlawada School. In September 2010, he was promoted to Headmaster of RDF Wadlakonda School. When asked about what he was looking forward to most in his new position, he said “making Wadlakonda the best of all RDF schools.” Cheralu is motivated by the healthy competition amongst all RDF schools.

This, of course, will come with its challenges. Wadlakonda school is currently lacking a proper facility and many classes are being held outdoors. RDF has recently purchased a plot of land to build the school upon, but major funding is necessary.

Still, Cheralu is hopeful. He is building strong relationships with his team of staff and is excited by the values they exude in their work, despite some of the funding challenges. He looks forward to his time ahead at RDF with a refreshing optimisim.

Nisha’s take on RDF

Nisha Chatterjee is a volunteer from the Washington University in St. Louis who came back to volunteer for her second time at RDF for the past two weeks. Here’s her take on RDF:

Nisha Chatterjee


I first came to Kalleda with four other students and a professor from Washington University for four weeks in the summer of 2010.  One of the other girls, Rachel, and I planned on returning for our winter break but flight delays and luggage problems prevented Rachel from catching her flight and the holiday season meant flights for the next few weeks were booked, so I ended up in Kalleda on my own.  I began my visit to India with a visit to the RDF Matendla school, which I was very impressed with.  RDF’s aim for a holistic education for students of rural India is realized at Matendla.  They have a student-run bank, where students can deposit their savings and withdraw at their convenience.  This bank is complete with receipts and cheques and the works, and one student even has over 600 rupees.  This bank is only one of the several programs they have running to make sure that students are getting everything they can out of their education- they are learning from much more than a textbook and are getting valuable, lifelong skills in communication and that well help them long after they leave school.

Nisha with Bindu, Ravali, Akhila, and Vennela from RDF Kalleda School


After Matendla I went to Kalleda, which feels like my home away from home now.  During my two weeks stay I directed two classes at RDF Kalleda School every day; one was to help teachers with their spoken English, and the other was an English class for about twenty 7th-9th class students.  I am amazed by the energy of the students to learn- they came to class so, so, so excited every day.  I was touched; sometimes, being a university student, I get so bogged down with papers and presentations and work and busyness that I forget the simplicity of just wanting to learn.  Being in Kalleda brought me back down to earth; I wasn’t on a computer, I wasn’t trying to shove down a meal in 2 minutes as I ran off somewhere, and I wasn’t in a race with myself to get things done as fast as possible.  Life in Kalleda is a reminder to breathe, and to not take things so available in America for granted.  Most importantly being in Kalleda is a reminder of the existence of love and kindness that people who seem at first so different from you, who have no obligation to do anything for you, so willingly give.  I received a namaskarum every day from every single person I walked past- the RDF Kalleda School faculty and students, the JC gatekeeper, the villagers walking down the road.  It’s easy to forget how important simple recognition of other people is in a world of technology and competition, but RDF and Kalleda have reminded me to appreciate these things, and to recognize that the well-being of the entire world is based on this respect and recognition.

Nisha with Swathi, Mounika, Sandhya, and Shirisha from the RDF VAPV Junior College,

Now I am leaving for a second time, but I plan to stay in touch with RDF from abroad.  I appreciate RDF for recognizing that textbook learning and rote memorization comprise only a small part of quality education; values such as integrity, honesty, self-reliance, and punctuality are essential in the making of minds that will be the future of this country, and I respect this organization for trying to empower children with these qualities along with a good understanding of standard subject material.  I am lucky to be able to see first-hand how education through RDF is changing the lives of so many eager, bright, wonderful children.  The teachers at both RDF Kalleda and RDF Matendla seemed very genuine and had a good attitude, and in this way I think the students will look to the teachers as role models and develop some valuable characteristics that they will maintain throughout their lives.  I hope one day all the goals of the organization will be fully realized in all five schools and the junior college. I already see a vast improvement from five months ago in terms of the infrastructure of RDF, the website, the marketing, and way the junior college is running. I wish RDF and all the amazing students and staff the best.  Until next time…

Mugulu design by Nisha and Sandhya

A new Senior Administrative Officer for RDF!

Ravi Kumar Yaganti

Ravi Kumar Yaganti is RDF’s first ever Senior Administrative Officer (SAO), responsible for managing and co-ordinating activities between our five schools, the Junior College, The Board of Directors, key partners, donors and the Chief Executive. He has an MA in hydrology and a Bsc in Science.

Ravi comes to RDF having completed a course on NGO Management and Social Entrepreneurship after a long career in banking.  During his career with one of India’s leading banks he was responsible for allocating loans to agricultural and educational projects in rural India. When asked what he is most looking forward to in his work with RDF, he says “making RDF more process and system-driven to enable sustainability.”

Alumni Profile: Veeranna Banoth

Veeranna Banoth

Twenty two year old Veeranna Banoth is RDF’s Alumni Ambassador, a volunteer post he fills with  great passion and energy. Veeranna comes from the Lambadi tribe; despite his under-privileged background, he managed to complete his schooling at Kalleda before going onto to study for a Bsc.

He is now in the second year of a Masters of Computer Application at one of India’s prestigious  colleges, the  National Institute of Technology in the town of Warangal.  Competition to gain entry to this institute is intense and only a handful of  students who apply are offered places. Banoth was placed 19th in the all India entrance examinations which secured him a place at the national institute.

His ambition is to join the police service. Meanwhile, he devotes significant amounts of his leisure time to helping students and teachers at Kalleda School. His role as Alumni Ambassador means he co-ordinates alumni participation in our schools and aids with the Youth Empowerment Classes.

RDF Matendla School – Festival Update

Muharram Festival

We celebrated Muharram festival for 7 days at our school (December 7-14), as part of our effort to engage students in all cultural festivals. We created models of the gods (Peerilu) with clothes, paper, sticks & cotton as seen in the video below. Every student enjoyed the festival by singing songs and playing around the fire in front of the gods. The students also performed a drama of the story of the festival. Everybody performed well and put all their effort into it. Overall, we enjoyed this festival very much. See the video:


We also celebrated Christmas day on December 25th, 2010 after school despite not having a Christian contingency in our school in. The students performed a show (drama) on the ‘birth of Christ’. The drama of Christ allowed students to learn about the story of Christmas. The drama also explained us about the story of Christ and his valuable words. The students learned how Christians usually celebrate their festival.

We made and arranged a Christmas tree in front of the assembly. The aim of the celebration is for students to experience the Christmas spirit first hand. All the credit goes to Environmental Science & English departments as they prepared this program in its entirety. Enjoy a video below with photos of our celebrations:

Key RDF Milestones in 2010

RDF had its best year YET in 2010. Here’s why:

  • Best examination marks so far.  102 students graduate from Kalleda and Matendla Schools
  • Kalleda student scores 91% in English exam
  • Transition to a full English curriculum at Narsimpalli School
  • Increase in student enrollments
  • Purchase of land for two new schools to replace existing buildings at Wadlakonda and Redlawada schools
  • Improved facilities at all six school campuses
  • Partnership with an elite school in the state capital, Hyderabad.  Students and teachers from different social backgrounds working together and learning from one another.
  • Students involved in the process of appointing a new principal  at RDF Vanitha Achuta Pal Vidyalaya ( Junior College)
  • Kalleda students involved in innovative initiative grading teachers after lessons and then meeting to have ‘muchata’ to discuss how to make improvements for both students and teachers.
  • Kalleda students sitting exams without invilagators present – to demonstrate students’ honesty which is one of RDF’s core values
  • New village project educating illiterate women in Matendla village, sponsored by the Indian government.
  • New Social Awareness Programme started at Kalleda for students to explore social issues in their communities. Students work  on youth empowerment programmes with overseas volunteers to create digital stories about the preservation of Lambad culture;  Matendla village literacy project.
  • Students excel in many areas outside the classroom by winning national, state and district awards in  – athletics, yoga, kho kho, kabbadi, basketball.
  • Girls -only karate programme started at Matendla school.
  • Increased involvement of alumni students in the schools.