Archive for the ‘Donors & Partners’ Category

A Foundation of Change

(L) Rama Devi & (R) Srikanth, leading a Bonalu procession

The Tech Mahindra Foundation and RDF partnership in the 2 Government schools in Bahadurapally, is creating positive change in the lives of rural children and their families, just like the impact being created in the RDF communities. Therefore, it makes us very happy to see former RDF students come and work in these schools.

Rama Devi, with her PS students

Rama Devi, helping during a Health Camp

Rama Devi is a Primary teacher in MPPS. After finishing her entire schooling in RDF Kalleda School, she went on to do her B.A., inspired by her caring teachers at RDF. Having received the benefits of a high quality teaching-learning environment as a student, Rama Devi puts the same care and dedication into her own teaching practice. Her enthusiasm for sports and cultural activities as a student can be seen even now as a teacher, thus making her one of the most popular teachers in the school!

Srikanth, playing with PS kids

Likewise, Srikanth, joined as a Non Teaching Staff in the school. Highly dependable and friendly, Srikanth manages security, snack time and looks after the organic garden in school. He also assists the PET during inter school trips. Remembering his Kalleda school days, he happily joins the kids for play and fun.

Snack time!

Both of them are enthusiastically engaged in so many aspects of the running of the school, eager to make a difference! We are so glad that both of them have found secure jobs and are contributing to rural children and society in their unique ways! Their families now have ease of mind, knowing that their children are flourishing in their new jobs and a life free from poverty. Life has indeed come full circle for these 2 alumni.

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Turning Around Life!

We have seen time and again how creating a nurturing environment in school brings out the best in children and teachers too. Now in the 5th year of a quality improvement partnership with Tech Mahindra Foundation, the 2 government schools in Bahadurapally are attracting families from villages further away due to becoming known as schools providing a high quality of education and healthy environment.

Simhachalam (L), reading a book with his classmate & friend

The turnaround we see in many students time and again, show us how they blossom, under such care. One such case is Simhachalam, a Class 7 student in ZPHS. He lost his father in an accident at the age of 6 and was unfortunately abandoned by his mother. He was being looked after by an aunt, but due to her own financial difficulties, she couldn’t afford to any longer. An uncle, a warden at a children’s orphanage and hostel, heard about him, took him in and enrolled him in ZPHS.

At play! Having fun with Kabaddi

By this time, 6 years had passed since his father’s demise and Simhachalam was displaying disruptive behaviour. He refused to come to school and didn’t do school work. His teachers understood his difficult life circumstances and that he hadn’t had much support or care. They worked with him patiently, letting him be, counselling him and giving him a lot of attention. Slowly, his trust built up and he started to attend school regularly. Given that it was the one place where he could be himself, he started to enjoy school and became interested in his studies and extracurricular activities such as kabaddi.

In just a short span of 1 year, he is able to read Telugu, English and do basic Maths. He’s made friends and his classmates even celebrated his birthday, which was a very moving experience for everyone! We’re grateful to the TMF team for being such a light to children from deprived backgrounds – not just financially deprived, but emotionally deprived homes too. To see him smiling, robust and of sound mind and body makes our work worth all the effort!

A Bright Future Beckons!

The RDF-TMF partnership is in its 4th year now and the seeds that were sown in the shape of RDF’s best practices with students and teachers, are blossoming in myriad, beautiful ways. Today we celebrate the lives and stories of some more children from the 2 partnership government schools in Bahadurapally.

Akhil, in a dance-theatre programme

Akhil Chary, now in Class 6, was reluctant to come to school when he joined 3 years back. He used to run away from school and take things from his classmates’ bags! The teachers have been trained in understanding student needs, their psychology and work in ways to get their cooperation. Plus the teachers really care about the wellbeing of their students. So, his teachers extended lots of patience towards him which helped him slowly integrate into the school. Now Akhil is known as the ‘class clown’ making everyone laugh, plus he’s talented at dancing & acting too! Sadly, he’ll be leaving the school soon, though on a happy note, because he’s cleared the Gurukula competitive exam and will be joining their hostel. He’ll be missed and we hope we can see him again soon!

Sunitha (R), at a plantation drive in her school

Sunitha has completed Class 10 from ZPHS this year, with a high GPA of 9.5! An ace student, she also became adept at computers, sports, dancing and acting; all activities that were brought in to develop students holistically. In the kitchen garden, she learnt to grow seasonal produce and took care of the mango and coconut orchards too. The school has put in the miles to develop a robust extracurricular programme for its students, with the intent of recognising and building their skills. Sunitha has learnt multiple skills and with these under her belt, learnt under the able guidance of the school staff, her future looks promising!

We wish both the absolute best that life can offer!

Skilling for Life

A session in progress with an SF volunteer at Global Edge School

India has a startling statistic which is that it churns out the highest number of unemployable graduates each year! Rote based education, intense academic focus and little time invested in skill or vocational development is the root cause for this. Children in rural India also have it tougher than their urban counterparts due to poorer infrastructure and little done to develop teachers. However, the story in RDF schools is very different. We are cognizant of this reality of rural education, hence have put in intense effort for over 2 decades to ensure well trained staff and attending to the holistic development of the children, going beyond academic achievements.

Fully engaged!

India’s graduates need employable skills. For rural children, English is paramount, given that it’s not present in the learning environment. Communication, team building, dealing with conflict, cultural differences are other skill areas that we also pay attention to. We feel blessed that we have partners and supports who understand these constraints and customize skilling programmes for our staff and students.

Focused discussion

As part of English Communication Improvement and Personality Development programmes, our students attend a Summer Camp at Global Edge International School, Hyderabad, conducted by Synchrony Financial. This year 42 students came to Hyderabad for this camp. The children had a lot of fun with the Synchrony team who created interesting activities in English focusing on LSRW skills. They also had music and yoga classes. With so much fun and much to do, the 1 month training flew!

We are immensely grateful to the Global Edge team for not only providing the venue each year, but also providing accommodation and drinking water to the participants this year and of course, the Synchrony volunteers for caring about the future of our students and providing them with great activities to groom them for success. RDF has sustained itself for 23 years because of the committed support of such partners.

 

The Importance of Educating Girls

Times are slowly changing in rural India when girls are encouraged to go to school, remain in school and pursue their dreams. We see this happen in the RDF institutions and with RDF’s best practices firmly in place in the Tech Mahindra-RDF partnership Government schools, we are seeing similar stories emerging from these 2 schools too. We find such stories very inspiring and this gives us hope that things are moving in the right direction. While education is crucial to help regain financial independence and live lives out of poverty, girl child education is a social change taking firm root.

Jyothi

Jyothi is a Class 6 student in ZPHS who has been helping her mother who works in a canteen on daily wages, during holidays and at home, since her father passed away when she was very young. Gaining courage from her mother, who advised her to remain in school and find a good job, Jyothi has been diligent in academics and extracurricular activities. She loves quiz competitions! She’s working hard with the hope of getting a Government scholarship for her higher education.

Manisha

Manisha is a Class 9 student in the same school. Though the family is going through the recent bereavement of the loss of her father a few months ago, again, it’s her mom who has encouraged her to go to school and remain focused on her education. We see her mother’s fortitude in Manisha, as she’s getting back to life in school and pursuing studies with care and help from her teachers and peers. She also excels in sports and was awarded Rs. 1000 for Best Student by TNR Academy.

The future is bright for girls like Jyothi and Manisha and it shows the importance of having family support and an enabling environment at home. We honour their mothers and many such families who forge ahead with their goals with grace and tenacity, despite grave setbacks and challenges. When we see such inspiring change in rural communities, it gives us hope for the future of girls.

Yes for Yoga!

A high quality education with high quality teaching standards requires well trained teachers. We are very proud of our teachers who put in a lot of effort to better their teaching practice through attending teacher training sessions onsite and offsite. They do this so that the classroom environment is engaging and children learn in meaningful ways.  This then necessitates that the well being of our hardworking teachers is looked after and we do this with yoga and meditation.

Matendla School was the venue of a yoga workshop by noted yoga therapist, Ms. Kamala and Ms. Karishma, who worked closely with the teachers to teach them yoga asanas, postures and breathing techniques. The teachers took to the session with the same dedication that we see in the other training sessions they attend. The teachers report that yoga helps them feel much better physically and mentally, which in turn helps their teaching too! We are truly happy to see that most of our teachers have created a daily yoga practice and do sessions with the students too! We are also very grateful to our community of supporters who help us with our needs in so many ways.

Synchrony-sed English Development Efforts!

Learning English is remote, rural areas is a very challenging task. With Telugu being the native language and there being no usage of English in a child’s natural environment, a lot of effort is taken to implement English in RDF schools and teach it in ways that students are able to retain the new language skills that they’re learning.

We are very fortunate that the need to learn English in today’s global environment is understood by RDF’s supporters and that more effort is required to implement English in a rural school. One of our long term supporters has been Synchrony Financial who has helped us in innumerable ways for over 10 years! In order to help enhance English skills in our schools, Synchrony Financial set up an English Language lab 3 years ago in Kalleda School, equipped with computers, language software and electricity back up. This lab is changing the lives of the children and teachers through giving them access and exposure to innovative English enhancement programmes in a high quality facility!

Over the years, several employees and senior management have visited the school and most recently, the school was honoured to receive Mr. Ravi Kiran. He spent the day observing the work in the lab and was shown the lab maintenance registers. The children happily informed him on how much their English skills are improving through better grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and sentence formation. They told him they feel less inhibited and more confident about using English.

Mr. Ravi Kiran was pleased with this progress and reported feeling good that the lab is being used effectively by the school and his interaction showed that everyone is indeed getting better at expressing themselves in English!