Archive for the ‘Habitat Welfare’ Category

‘In For’ Lots of Care!

Infor Care India has been a long time supporter of RDF’s cause and is committed to the development of our schools and helping rural, underprivileged children reach their best potential through good amenities. Rollakal School stands today due to funding from them and several members of their senior team and other employees regularly visit the school to volunteer or interact with the staff and students.

Last month, Infor employees visited the school in order to spruce it up and give it a fresh coat of paint. 4 Directors and 70 volunteers spent an entire day painting the entire building and making it look fresh and beautiful, standing proud in its pristine, green surrounding! They also planted 100 saplings which we hope will take root and grow strong, just like our partnership with Infor!

We are immensely grateful to Mr. Kiran Addala, RDF Director and a Senior Manager at Infor for spearheading this wonderful association and the entire Infor team for providing our school and children with the kind of amenities and resources that create a joyful learning environment for these deserving children. Thank you!

 

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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!

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 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!

Dignity of Labour

Mentoring children to feel pride in their agricultural heritage, despite its inherent difficulties is provided parallel to a good and solid educational foundation. While the students do learn about the world beyond their village and aspire for good jobs, it is equally important for them to remain grounded in their day to day reality and support their parent’s work.

RDF children have no inhibitions working in fields alongside their parents. They usually do this during school vacations. Working in the fields allows them to recognize the intense effort that goes into growing our food. This reality stays with them even as they leave their rural life after school and venture into the world, getting jobs in towns and cities far from home. Therefore, they always remain in touch with their roots and continue to come back to their village and their school to support the community in any way they can.

On the fields, not only do they help with the actual farming, but they also look after the cattle. They are well versed with all caring for farm animals, their nourishment and medical care too! This work provides them with ample life skills – critical thinking, problem solving, and intimate knowledge of flora and fauna, that can’t be learnt from books.

We are very grateful to the teachers in all our schools who keep this spirit of pride and dignity of labour alive. This piece is dedicated to the staff and community in Redlawada School who thought of this wonderful piece!