Archive for the ‘Environmental Consciousness’ Category

Inspired Student!

Raju of RDF Redlawada School is on cloud nine on receiving news that his Science project has been selected as the best project in the State level INSPIRE programme – and so are we! Coming from very simple and humble backgrounds, we completely understand the challenges faced by our children to progress academically; therefore their achievements are a testament to their grit and fighting spirit and makes us doubly proud!

A student of Class 10, Raju has been inspired by the teaching methodology and experimentation that is encouraged by his Science teacher and the supportive environment in the school which ultimately led to the creation of his prize winning project.

 The process started when Raju started thinking of greener and more economical ways to cook food at home and the production of Biogas. After a few days of experimentation and talking to his teachers, he came up with a plan. He collected some buckets of cow dung in a drum and sealed it airtight for 15 days. Then he poured water into the drum which changed the composition and created an organic substance, suitable for generating biogas. A metal pipe was attached between the drum and a stove to provide gas for cooking!

It’s heartening to see how students like Raju reflect on the real challenges of rural people and come up with innovative ways to provide solutions. While we fully support their aspirations to move to bigger cities to pursue their dreams, we are equally proud when they use their education and knowledge for the betterment of rural communities!

Well done Raju – we hope you continue to shine and grow wherever you go!


Cultivating Children’s Development

Growing our own food is an act of sacredness. In cities, our lives can be very distanced from the natural elements and the chain of people who grow our food. In fact, seeing our food grow from its seedling stage to our plates gives an immense feeling of satisfaction. Since RDF children live in financially deprived, rural agrarian communities, it was important for us to cultivate a mindset in which they see their agrarian history as having provided them with a richness of skills and experience and not something as challenging and thus avoided. While that is a reality, it became necessary for us to help them appreciate what they have grown up with and an understanding of the cycle of food – the cycle of life itself!

In Rollakal School, the school yard is being used as a vegetable garden. In fact, it is a wonderful way to use the school yard as another classroom, helping students connect deeply with the natural world – the true source of their food. Simultaneously, they also learn valuable farming concepts, methods and skills that integrate with academic subjects such as Maths, Science, Physical Education and their health. The school has had a bounty of tomatoes, greens, lady’s finger etc. which is providing a rich source of delicious food for their midday meal.

Working together on the school farm is yielding tremendous positive impact for the children who are gaining not just food knowledge and learning about growing their own food, but also about patience, cooperation, team work and social skills. Working with their hands and seeing the fruits of their labour are imbibing our children with a sense of self confidence and a sense of ‘capableness’. We find the children very excited when it’s time to go into the garden and work there. Every child, regardless of their intelligence or capability level finds something to do in the vegetable garden and that, in addition to everything else they learn, is something we positively cherish!

Unlikely Hero!

People have a tendency to salute those to achieve great feats or those walking the halls of fame. But we have many unsung role models who do their work quietly and care for no fame.

Today we would like to celebrate the life of Badavath Kumar, a student of the RDF VAPV Junior College. He belongs to a poor family – his father works on a small farm and his mother is a daily wage labourer. Both parents are illiterate. Badavath has always taken everything he does seriously – be it college studies, helping his parents or pursuing his dreams. He attends college regularly and is always at the top of his class. He helps his mother with house hold working every morning and assists his father in the field in the evenings. He continues with determination and focus even during festivals and holidays!

He has treasured the sacrifices that his parents have been making to help him get an education. See their daily hardship and wanting to help them in every way, he has been helping his father learn new methods of cultivation. For the past one year, he has been cultivating the land and has been able to generate better yields than previous years! He consults role model farmers in order to understand and learn better methods of cultivation and has been passing on this new found knowledge to his father.

With this deep understanding of the issues that besiege the agricultural sector, Badavath has his heart set on becoming an agricultural scientist, so that he can help more people like his father learn better agricultural techniques. With a drive to help poor, rural, agricultural communities; he has already been passing on methods to use and conserve water better, not burn crops and reduce the usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He dreams that he can pass on the torch of advanced agricultural practices to his peers and generations to come, to help farming communities in India.

We applaud quiet leaders and heroes like Badavath, who work tirelessly in remote parts of India and shine a light for struggling, underprivileged communities, empowering them with their zeal and perseverance!


A Culture of Compassion for Agriculture

Learning from one’s local environment and community is very valuable for school children. While learning from textbooks for a curriculum is important, it is equally important for students to be able to connect textbook knowledge to real life challenges around them.

RDF children belong to financially backward, rural, agrarian communities. Most parents are either small farmers, farm labourers and cattle herders. Learning about challenges in farming is necessary for them, if they are to begin thinking of sustainable solutions – this is the vision RDF has been actualizing – by educating them about the world around them, engaging in deep and meaningful ways with the local communities and empowering them to understand the challenges and find ways to help them in various ways.

In Kalleda School, as part of a Science field trip, students  of Class 8 visited farms in their local village to understand the challenges in a farmer’s life and to observe the use of a Harvester machine. The farmers were happy to interact with the students, demonstrating how the harvester helps them save time and money. The farmers explained how it is getting difficult to retain farm labour and the economic burden of agriculture. Use of technology such as the Harvester machines is helping farmers, but they need more help to make their lives financially sustainable. They also had a productive discussion about paddy and its diseases and methods being employed to ensure good crop year on year.

The Harvester machine

Through this trip, student became much more aware of the difficulties present in eking a living through farming, awareness about how Science and Technology can help farmers and that there is still a long way to go in order to make this more productive and less cost intensive for them. We hope this reality and its inherent challenges will help our students utilize their academic and life skills learnt in RDF, to return and help our farmers – the backbone of India’s economy


A Special Birthday

Birthdays are typically days of celebration for children, who look forward to being with friends and family and receiving blessings and gifts from their families.

However, when Kanikonda Akhil, a student of Rollakal School, turned 14 years old recently, he decided to do something different. Concerned about the environment and inspired by the efforts being made in all RDF schools to bring awareness about environment conservation, Akhil decided to plant a sapling in his school on his birthday. He also gave a speech on his birthday, urging everyone to do something concrete that will help the environment.

The students and teachers appreciated his gesture and many students took a pledge to plant a sapling on their birthday too! Even the teachers were inspired by his thoughtfulness and they too decided to follow suit and plant a sapling on their birthday! Everyone agreed that contributing to protecting the environment was a much better way to celebrate a birthday and this planet too, rather than spending money on buying a cake and chocolates.

We are very touched by Akhil’s concern for the environment and are very proud that he took inspiration from RDF’s Social Awareness Programs and felt empowered to make his birthday a unique event for everyone. These are the waves of changes from the next generation that we see being birthed through RDF students’ inspiring actions!


Immersion in New Traditions

Vinayak Chaturthi is a huge festival across the length and breadth of India; celebrated in a multitude of ways by the ardent followers of Lord Ganesha.

In recent years, there has been widespread coverage on the damage done to river systems and other water bodies due to the immersion of POP idols. Sadly, many people continue this ritual despite the sustainable alternative of using clay being easily available. At the same time, we are happy to see many groups using clay idols to venerate Lord Ganesha.

RDF schools have been making clay idols for 10 years, including getting the larger community involved. This year, the students and staff made clay idols together and distribute these idols to villagers. The children, as in previous years, with the strong belief and desire to make sustainable changes, went around surrounding villages to motive villagers to only use clay idols.

It was amazing to see the dexterity with which the kids shaped and moulded the idols and the enthusiasm with which they approached their elders and community to become more aware and conscious citizens, rather than blindly follow rituals. They were able to convert those resistant to the idea of making such a change. Such is the power of belief and conviction for the greater good of society!

On the day of the immersion, the children sang many songs and performed traditional dances on the festive journey to immerse their idols in the local lake and tank. We have seen the positive impact these efforts have brought in the lives of staff and children – right from understanding their role in protecting the environment, to team work and rallying people to a just cause, to using their creative and artistic abilities to fashion beautiful clay idols and seeing the outcome of their positive attitude on the larger community. These real life experiences and skills cannot be learnt in a classroom – they come from engaging and empowering individuals to ‘be the change they want to see in the world’!


Of Richness in Spirit and Biodiversity

This planet, that we call our Mother, needs a lot of effort and help from her citizens. Every little bit counts as popularized by the saying, “A million drops make the ocean”. We feel a sense of pride when we see RDF’s underprivileged children; living in remote and rural areas, take up the cause to help our planet. Their generosity of time and spirit makes us feel hopeful that the future is in capable hands.

The conscientious students of the RDF VAPV Junior College have been working very hard at keeping their campus green. Concerned about the diminishing green cover and the effect that this has on the biodiversity of a region, the students and staff have planted nearly 116 different types of fruit trees over the years. These trees and plants not only bring glorious colour and a vibrant feel to the campus, but the trees laden with fruit and berries are a magnet for an ever increasing variety of birds, insects and ground animals are taking up residence here.

So our ecologically sensitive and compassionate students decided to prepare wire nests and water pools for these creatures. Dividing themselves into groups, they assiduously prepared the nests and bowls and placed them in various trees and bushes. The number of birds and animals flocking to this green paradise is a sight to behold!

We believe that several small initiatives by small groups like these can really go a long way to bring  biodiversity and green cover back to a region. We really hope this kind of effort can have an inspirational and ripple effect!