Archive for the ‘Life skills building’ Category

Traditions, not Trends!

Urban areas are witnessing a revival of traditional arts, crafts and food practices. Organic bazaars are de rigeur in many parts of Hyderabad and across the country and people gleefully buy local produce, organic fruits and vegetables and traditionally prepared spices and delicacies. This is a very positive trend.

However, in rural communities, such as those that RDF works in, traditional has never been ‘trending’! Generations old practices still find their rightful place amongst families. Children grow up with mortars and pestles and stone grinders instead of expensive food processors. These traditional methods are something the villagers are proud of and hence teach these practices to the next generation. Since RDF staff also belongs to the same communities that the children belong to, discussions on culture and traditions take place very normally and within the context of their social and cultural reality. The schools also support these practices which have been proven to be more beneficial and healthy for people and the environment.

To say the least, food prepared the traditional way tastes absolutely heavenly – every urban visitor to an RDF school is testament to that fact!

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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!

 

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.

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!

Congratulations to IPE Toppers!

The Intermediate Public Examination (IPE) March 2017 results have been declared. The RDF VAPV Junior College got the highest pass percentage and secured the 1st rank at the Divisional level.

In 1st year, 190 students appeared in the exam, with 173 clearing the exams, giving the college a pass percentage of 91%. In 2nd year, 181 students appeared in the exam, with 176 clearing the exams, giving them a pass percentage of 97%. The number of A Grade students is 189, the number of B Grade students is 94 & the number of C Grade students is 47.

Our toppers had this to say –

T. Sai Vratha: She is the daughter of the Headmaster of RDF Kalleda School, Mr. S. Sridhar and topped her stream. She says, “I prefer to study always and think of being a role model to all in the society. I was unhappy that I didn’t study in an RDF school, but I am delighted that I got to study in the RDF VAPV Junior College”.

K. Rahul: “I spent almost 10 hours every day to write and rewrite everything I studied. I wanted to understand things. I want to study medicine and now I am taking NEET long term coaching. I am confident I will get a seat in Medical College. I went to give free treatment to the poor people. Do what is right, the right way!

V. Namratha: The 18 year old wants to study law & is already preparing for the entrance exams in June. “I want to become a lawyer to fight for injustices in society. I hope to eventually become a judge and pass fair judgments.”

Please join us in congratulating the effort and success of these deserving students!

 

Rural Learning, Global Training!

The quality education partnership between RDF & Tech Mahindra Foundation got another feather in its cap through the achievements of it students in a local essay comptetion.

Getting to a point of competing in an event that involved not just writing in English, a language students in rural and semi rural areas have limited exposure to; but also to utilise higher level thinking skills, in order to write a comprehensive essay was no mean task. Till just as recent as 2 years back, these students would not have had the confidence or the ability to write or compete in English. The intensive efforts that have been made in this partnership, implemented with the encouragement of the RDF team and the local teachers are paying dividends!

An essay writing competition was conducted in which students of the Zilla Parishad High School and other schools in the area participated with enthusiasm.  The topic for the competition was “Global Warming“.  Children’s participation was overwhelming and the innovative ideas and knowledge about the real concern of ‘global warming’, among the children was appreciable.

The winners were presented with medals and participation certificates. In this context, the school staff and RDF voluntary staff deputed for ARISE project of the Tech Mahindra Foundation were applauded for their contribution in providing high quality education standards for the children. Here are the students who got medals with appreciation certificates –

L-R: M. Mounika – Class 9, Y. Saivarun – Class 7, T. Sunitha – Class 8

Through this partnership, it is the aim of both RDF and Tech Mahindra Foundation to provide the best facilities to children from deprived backgrounds, whose families struggle to even send their children to school. For children from remote rural and semi rural areas to research, read, think and analyse events and topics that are global in nature, is truly amazing! It just goes to show how meaningful engagement with staff and students can empower them in such leaps and bounds!