Archive for April, 2018

The Story of Spunky Shubham

Shubham is a sweet, little 8 year old, studying in Class 3 in the TMF-RDF partnership school, Mandal Parishad Primary School, Bahadurapally. Now a darling of the teachers, who always has a huge smile on his face, Shubham had a rough start in the school.

Born in rural Maharashtra, his parents decided to move to Hyderabad in order to have a better quality of life, after suffering tremendously in drought ridden districts in Maharashtra. The move was of course upsetting for little Shubham who had to leave his extended family and friends behind. Not knowing the local Telugu language also made his transition to life in Bahadurapally difficult. His parents procured jobs soon enough – his father works as a lorry driver, while his mother works as an ‘ayah’ in a local college on daily wages.

On joining MPPS, Shubham felt quite lost in the early months. He could not follow anything in class, hence could not keep up with his classmates and the syllabus. The language barrier also proved tough for him, resulting in his not being able to speak, read or write and understand what anyone was saying! But Shubham is a spunky guy – he earnestly tried to understand and learn what he could and he managed to pass with average marks – a great effort for someone who didn’t really understand what was going on in class!

Shubham (exteme L), happy at play with his friends

We have to point out that the teachers extended a lot of patience towards him, letting him learn at his own pace, understanding that he will learn when he’s comfortable and integrates better into the school and local environment. Once he was in Class 2, he began to understand some Telugu and English words and letter. He also began to make friends, which made him really happy. He became more participative in class, enjoying play time with his new friends and also working hard at reading and writing. Over a period of time, he began to pick up the language and express himself as best as he could to his teachers and classmates.

Shubham (L), the carrom champ!

We are proud to say that Shubham has adjusted well – his strong spirit and the supportive environment created by his teachers going a long way in helping him become the confident boy he is today. If you would like to see Shubham, you will find him intensely playing carom – a game he loves! His parents are very relieved to see him as he is today and are very grateful to RDF and TMF staff for providing whatever Shubham needed in order to blossom. Shubham has vowed to study in MPPS till he completes Class 10 because he loves the school! What better testimonial towards a school other than the transparent love expressed by a child?!

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Voice of RDF Parents

Parents in RDF schools are an integral part of the school. Every RDF school has a Parents Committee with meetings being held regularly to involve parents in school operations, problems being faced and taken parent suggestions and advice seriously. Therefore parents take ownership of developing the school by extending their support in myriad ways.

With the academic year end, the staff of RDF Redlawada School decided to go to parents houses to get their views on their child’s education and development and also to get feedback on the facilities and running of the school. It is this level of transparency and engagement that has made parents trust RDF schools implicitly and given them the faith that their children’s education is in good hands!

In all cases, parents unequivocally expressed their happiness about RDF’s education system and the school facilities. Parents said that they are able to compare the quality of education, facilities, staff training and the environment by speaking to parents whose children attend other school and they always feel assured about RDF schools. Such is their confidence in our approach, that they have always helped with new admissions in our schools!

Time and again, parents have come forward to assist us in many areas such as in-kind donations of water coolers, water filters, fans, classroom consumables, financial help, health checks, groceries and vegetables – the list is endless! It fills our hearts with warmth to see that RDF is also in good hands with such strong and supportive parent communities rallying behind our schools!

Experience is the Best Teacher!

RDF children belong to families that sustain themselves on agricultural or daily wage labour. Over decades, due to reliance on chemical based agricultural methods and climate change, farmers have faced immense loss. Therefore a field trip to learn about organic methods of farming was precisely the kind of empowering journey for our children that would allow them to learn from live examples and pass it on to their communities.

On a hot sunny day, the children of Class 9 of RDF Kalleda High School walked nearly 5 kilometres to farms that had gained renown for using organic farming methods. The farmers were very willing to pass on their experience and knowledge to the children, which we were very grateful for. The children and staff observed drip irrigation system,  sprinkler system and crops such as paddy, maize, mango and vegetable gardens too. The children were bursting with questions and the farmers explained everything to them patiently, which was a wonderful interaction to see!

Through the trip, the children learnt the benefits of using bio fertilizers, how it improves soil fertility and how to obtain high yields. They understood the damaged caused to the soil, and the microbiome that are essential to crop growth, if we used chemical fertilizers and pesticides. After this informative trip, the children visited a dairy farm in order to learn about livestock, milk production, caring for milch animals, their diseases and how to prvent them.

All in all, the children were thrilled with their outing and felt that they had learnt a lot from the farmers. They are now eager to speak to their community elders about using such methods in their own field. We absolutely love the feeling of responsibility and empowerment in these children, who genuinely want to strive towards making their communities economically stronger. Hats off to them!

Of Kitchen gardens and Kindness!

Children, hard at work in the school farm

The lush produce at the school

Every RDF school has a thriving organic kitchen garden/farm in order to grow some of their own produce for the midday meals and also to help the local economy.  Seeing fruits, vegetable, grains and lentils grow from seed to cooked stages really inspires our children and makes them an active part of the food production process in their school. It also instills a sense of kindness and care towards nature and her resources.

In RDF Rollakal School, the creation and management of this vegetable garden means that they do not need to buy vegetables from the market for the midday meal programme. This also allows them to reduce expenditure. Some of the vegetables that they have successfully grown are brinjal, tomato, lady’s finger, ivy gourd, bottle gourd and bitter gourd.

Farmer Venu Rao in RoS

It has also brought the local community in Rollakal together. Due to water scarcity, the school’s neighbour and farmer, Karimilla Venu Rao, has been kind enough to supply water for the school’s farm. We are immensely grateful to him for helping us in this time of need. We absolutely love this culture of kindness and kinship towards the land and the people who till the land and this power of kindness that that brings us together.

It once again goes to show the power of trust and relationships within the local community that allow RDF schools to thrive and grow!

Creating Wealth from Waste

Everyday in our homes, papers and newspapers are unthinkingly thrown away. However, if we put our minds to it, these ‘waste’ newspapers can become a rich source of recyclable material. This is precisely what the RDF Matendla School team decided to do. Perturbed by the wastage of paper in their surrounds and also wishing to create a good example for children, the school team informed students and teachers to collect every form of waste paper they could find, including newspapers, from their homes and neighbourhood and bring them to school on the 5th and 15th of each month.

This waste paper is collected during morning assembly and the staff and students who have made the effort to collect and bring this paper are appreciated. The mere start of this process has create a positive impact in the school community. Students and teachers are looking more closely at the usage of paper in their homes and neighbourhood and are now saving paper. Not only do they understand the importance and value of paper, by they are also advocating saving and recycling paper in their community, thus making their local community more conscious about paper wastage and the impact of doing so on the environment.

The paper is being used to create notebooks for the school, paper bags and art and craft items. In this way, everyone is learning how to build a more conscious and aware community and help in preserving our resources and the environment. Kudos to the Matendla team for taking on this responsibility and spreading the message of saving paper, saving trees and saving the environment and empowering the local community to take up this cause!

Soaring Creativity!

Hard at work on the fountain

The MPC and BPC 2nd Year students from the RDF VAPV Junior College showed their prowess at Science and their inventiveness by making a functional water fountain. This working model of a water fountain was made entirely from recycled and waste material which the students found in the college store room and in their homes. The icing on the cake is that this model only cost an affordable Rs. 950 to make!

Nagaraju, working on the fountain

G. Nagaraju, studying in BPC 2nd Year took the initiative to start this project. In his own words –“I took inspiration from APJ Abdul Kalam. I remember reading that while he was studying, his teacher was explaining the flight of a seagull over the sea and fascinated by that, he decided to become a pilot. I took inspiration from his life when I thought of preparing a water fountain. I got together with my friends and told them about my idea. Then we took suggestions from our Physics lecturer and finished the project within 6 days!”

“This is the best project that I have done in college and we decided to dedicate this water fountain to our batch (2016-18). I will never forget my college days. My time here has inspired me to become a scientist.”

The fountain, finished with a flourish!

The fountain occupies pride of place in front of the classrooms on the Junior College campus. We are so proud of the leadership and creativity of students like Nagaraju, who take ownership of their learning and also generously involve their friends. We hope his and all our students’ dreams soar, just like the seagull in Dr. Kalam’s story!