Archive for July, 2017

Conscious Creativity

Creative ideas are burgeoning in RDF Rollakal School! The students who are learning in an environment that encourages freedom and creative self expression are exploring various artistic mediums in order to channelize their creative spark.

The urge to be creative and feel self expressed in doing so is a very natural human urge. Many schools,  in their pursuit of academics and examinations, tend to have a low priority for artistic endeavours. However, in RDF schools, we realize that an enriching environment is not just one with a high quality of academic focus, it is also watching out for children’s natural curiousity, their innate talent and providing them the environment and encouragement to delve in artistic endeavours such as art, craft, singing, dancing, writing, experimenting – any manner which enthuses their spirit!

Theatre Thursday has been put together by students who are interested in the medium of theatre to explore socially relevant issues. For these kids, the exploration is not just about acting; it is about using the medium of act as visual storytelling in order to highlight issues in our society that is relevant to their lives. The idea/theme, the story creating, dialogue writing, direction and acting is managed entirely by the students! It just goes to show the deep level of interest they have in their social reality and bringing it to light through a thoughtful play. Some of the themes enacted recently have been Jealousy, Greed, Anger, Failure & Disappointment. These are real emotions – reality the students and their families experience; therefore, it is very empowering for them to explore this and work out solutions using theatre. We are very proud of their imagination and effort!

Another student, Pravalika, who is studying in Class 8, has always been artistically inclined. Over the past few months, she has been very interested in working with paper to explore her own creative ideas. Of course, she has been encouraged in this new found interest by the school and her teachers. She has now made several beautiful paper creations that are on display in the school. So pretty are her designs, with an amazing level of dexterity, that other children also want to learn from her!

Both these cases go to show that when treated with care and encouragement, students bring out the best in themselves. RDF staff make a very conscious effort to understand student’s needs and provide them with the means required to bring their creativity to the fore. This is what builds self esteem, self confidence and a feeling of empowerment – essential life skills in today’s world.

Celebrating the Environment

The young children of the Mandal Parishad Primary School showed their sensitivity towards environmental issues by independently planning and organizing a ‘Green Day’ in the school.

The HM addressing the audience on the importance of conservation

The day started with a special school assembly dedicated to the importance of living in harmony with nature and the detrimental effects of managing human consumerism which leads to trees and forests being felled. Then the students led an awareness march through the village of Bahadurapally, since community engagement is a serious social responsibility that is a cornerstone of all RDF’s work and has naturally been implemented in MPPS too.

Students engrossed in the drawing competition

The enterprise shown by the children was amazing – right from planning the entire day’s activities to executing themed events on the day such as an essay competition on ‘The Importance of Trees’ , student speeches on ‘Greening the Environment’, singing and art events.

The children also planted saplings throughout the campus, along with the teachers and have taken on the responsibility of looking after the plants. A prize distribution ceremony concluded the day, with the winners in the various contents and all students being commended for their effort.

We are very proud of this initiative and the commitment these young and aware leaders have shown on the importance of conservation!

Student Endeavours and Empowered Communities

RDF schools have been built on the premise of Educating, Engaging and Empowering underprivileged rural children such that they learn tools through their years in RDF schools that will enable them to gain employment and break free from their lives of poverty. At a micro level, this is possible only through deeply engaging with each child and their family, nurturing community relationships based on trust and faith.

RDF staff, who also belong to the same communities and have led similar lives, have an intimate knowledge of the struggles that children and their families go through; having gone through the similar challenges of financial difficulties, working hard to complete schooling, working as students to put themselves through college, simultaneously trying to support their struggling families at home.  Having lived through similar circumstances, RDF staff make the effort to create personal relationships with the children, guiding and mentoring them and celebrating their talents, skills and achievements through school and even after school. This care and support system provide huge encouragement to the children and gives them mental and emotional strength to face their life and continue to work hard in school.

Saritha passed out of Redlawada School last year and joined a Junior College in the neighbouring small town of Hanamkonda. She recently informed the school that she topped the 1st Year Intermediate Examinations in the CEC group. Though she has graduated from the school, she, like many other students, keep in touch with the school and update them about their higher education. The school also keeps in touch with families and extends their support whenever required. Therefore the school and Saritha’s family is celebrating her accomplishment and together prays and wishes that she continues with determination for her further success in life.

Chandana, a Class 10 student in the school, has also been putting in a great deal of effort in her academics and extracurricular activities in school. Her parents are agricultural labourers who toil hard to send their only daughter to school so that she can lead a better life. However, Chandana is a sweet and humble girl who understands her parent’s troubles. So she spends all her spare time helping her parents in the fields with every Sunday and each holiday dedicated to working together with her parents in the field which gives them some respite from grinding physical labour.

We celebrate the spirit and compassion of our children, their families and our local communities which includes our local staff , through these stories. We take pride in their everyday lives, their journey and not just the end achievement. This is RDF’s way of creating empowered individuals who can create empowered communities!

Young Motivator!

One would think that the zeal to motivate and inspire can only come through years of study or life experience – having attained a certain level of learning in order to reach out or teach others. But what we have seen in RDF schools over and over again is that the zeal to motivate and reach out comes from a space of generosity, care, kindness – all encompassing a spirit of sharing.

Malyala Ramya is one such alumus of RDF Kalleda School who studied there from LKG to Class 5, thereafter gaining admission in a Government Sports School in Karimnagar. Now in Class 9, she has been selected to participate in Wrestling competitions. An avid lover of sports since she was a young girl, Ramya always had the clear intention of doing something in the sports arena. During summer vacation, she decided to pay a visit to Kalleda School to meet her teachers and former classmates. Driven by a desire to share her experiences as a sports person, she arranged a Summer Camp. During the camp, she emphasized the importance of physical, mental and emotional fitness in life. She also taught basic fitness techniques to build stamina and physical ability.

She spoke to the children not only about the importance of staying active and fit, but also on the importance of developing themselves in a sport as excellence in a sporting field can lead to future job opportunities as well.  The students thoroughly enjoyed her sessions and inspirational talks! Through her example, they understood the values of self discipline, hard work and personal excellence.

So Ramya, all of 14 years of age, showed all of us, yet again, that age is no deterrant to being a beacon of inspiration. We thank Ramya for her generosity and her willingness to share all that she has learnt with the young kids in Kalleda School!

Community Circle of Trust

The importance of parent and community engagement has been paramount since the establishment of the first RDF school in 1996.  Each school has put in tremendous effort to built trust based relationships with its parent community. Since the students are first generation learners, it becomes crucial for the schools to be transparent in their processes and that parents understand how the schools are being run.

Thus, we recognise that parents are key stakeholders in the sustainability of their local RDF school. Rather than merely informing parents about student’s progress, the formation of a parent committee brings in value and experience in key decisions, which shows the trust and faith the school management has in the local community.

In Matendla School, regular review meetings are conducted regarding school operations and student’s education. A unique support structure has been created through which students and parents are invited to review their own progress and performance. This feedback is combined with staff feedback to create a more wholesome development plan for each student! This also puts the student in charge of their reviewing their own learning and progress.

This kind of open process creates a circle of encouragement and trust in which the opinion and feeling of each student and parent is valued. This allows the student to improve in academic and non academic areas too. Parents feel happy with this level of involvement and convey their regard and satisfaction for our processes.

Aiming Right with Archery!

A sporting star has been making quiet strides in the RDF VAPV Junior College. Nomula Lavanya has struggled against her social and financial circumstances, but found support in her parents who are daily wage earners and have put together their savings to encourage their daughter to fly high. She took up Archery as a Class 5 student in RDF Kalleda School. With fierce determination, Lavanya took on the challenge of daily training, practicing for nearly 10 hours a day, while also putting in efforts to complete her intermediate, which she passed in first division! Now a first year degree student in Sai Ram Degree College in the small town of Thorrur in Warangal District, she has proved her talent in Archery as well as academics.

Lavanya’s Archery achievements are superlative to say the least! She has participated in the International Archery World Cup in Junior and Senior categories in China in 2013 and 2014, as well as in the World Cup Championship in Columbia in 2015. In 2014, she won Gold at the National Level in Assam. In 2015 & 2016, she won Gold in the Senior National Championships in New Delhi. Based on her excellent showing in Stage 3 in the Nationals, the National Selection Committee has selected her to represent India at the Archery World Cup Championships to be held from June 18-22 in the USA! Her ultimate dream is to represent India at the Olympics.

Lavanya appreciates the level of encouragement, support and training that she has been given at RDF and believes strongly in spreading a sports culture in schools and colleges

We are so proud of the humility and determination of the simple students who rise up with grace and grit to make their family, their schools, their peers and the country proud! We are honoured to have such a star in our midst and hope for many more Lavanyas coming up!