Archive for the ‘Youth Empowerment’ Category

The Spirit for Sports

RDF puts in a lot of work to go beyond classroom education and arm children with real life skills that will benefit them. Therefore, a lot of effort is put into training teachers, who in turn, mentor children to develop skills that can truly help them in higher education and careers, thus providing them with tools to break the bonds of poverty that they live in. One such route is through sports coaching. We are extremely proud to have produced several District, State, National and even International level players in various sports. All credit goes to the excellent coaching provided by the Physical Education Teachers and the determination and perseverance of students to put in the hard yards and do the very best they can.

Recently, 7 students from RDF Rollakal School participated in Sports School selection competition in Hanamkonda at JNS Stadium. We are very happy that 6 students were selected to the State level Sports School competition. Every year, RDF children make it in sports schools across the state where they can focus on sports and academics together, ultimately getting an entry in Government jobs – a stable source of income and financial freedom for the family!

We feel really happy at the achievement of our students and appreciate the hard work being put in the school’s PET, a well trained teacher, who works patiently with the children each day, giving guidance and instructions concerning every game and sport being played by the children. You can see the dedication from the children, as young as Primary School level, when they come in before school and stay back after school to practice, without being asked to! Now that is motivation!

Such selections have a positive impact on the entire community because other students feel inspired and the ripple effect ensures that they too start focusing more on sports! In addition, time spent outdoors is good for the body, mind and spirit – therefore an atmosphere of good health is also created.

We look forward to the bright future of all these children, who so richly deserve the best that life can offer them!

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Ripe for Skype!

Do you all recall the thrill of 1st using technology and being able to live call and chat with friends and family? While in urban areas, technological advances are growing by leaps and bounds, our rural counterparts are trying to catch up! Lack of public resources has only given us more impetus to help rural, underprivileged children studying in RDF schools achieve some tech advancements of their own! So we have left no stone unturned to set up computer labs in every school, with the gracious support of individuals and corporate sponsors who believe in our vision and truly want to help these children achieve their potential.

Our education partner, Silver Oaks, has been helping our teachers and students through onsite review and coaching visits, including visits by our teachers to their school. However, we felt that this support structure can be further strengthened through using technology and we arrived at ..Skype calls! Though city dwellers are intimately acquainted with Skype, it is brand new for rural children and they were understandably very excited by this!

The Silver Oaks team set up a Skype call between some of their students and RDF students who wanted queries on leadership skills and electoral processes answered and the team was more than happy to help! RDF children were thrilled to see the Silver Oaks students live during the video call and marvelled at the technology that enabled them to speak and see others live – it was a milestone moment for everyone!

Our aim is to always show them ways that anything they want to learn and know is within their reach and go beyond textbook education. We feel so heartened at this level of ongoing support and care that we receive and know how much this impacts our children in many positive ways!

Training Ground for Achievements

Masters of martial arts!

The popular saying ‘Practice makes Perfect’ may sound like a cliché but it holds absolutely true! Coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, with few resources to aid them, RDF children are very aware that if they want to reach their goals in life, they need to put in hard work and practice.

Kabaddi practice!

We have seen that these children are so passionate about what they take up – be it academics, sports or extracurricular work – that putting in the hours of practice is like breathing – they do it without a need to be told. They are extremely aware that the circumstances that they live in are very hard and that a life out of poverty is attainable through education and developing the necessary skills to accomplish their goals of a good career and financial security.

Yoga perfection!

The teachers also work hard right alongside the children, mentoring them every step of the way. The children happily come to school before hours and stay back after hours too, if needed, in order to practice and perfect whatever they are working at. It is this level of attention to detail and commitment that makes RDF children perform well at Mandal, District, State and National level competitions. In the story today, we have shared photos from Redlawada School – children engrossed in practicing different activities.

Building computer skills

We are very proud of this environment of care, compassion, skill building and achievement that is present across RDF institutions. It is a testament to the dedication of the local school teams, the children and their communities who believe in us, just as we believe in them!

A Juicy Discussion!

It’s a great pleasure for us to see children take charge of their own learning and development. It shows that they feel confident and empowered to do so, which in turn, makes us feel that we must be doing something right!

Raju, a Class 8 student from Matendla School brought a large lemon into school one day and handed it to his Science teacher. This local variety, called ‘Sudi Nimmakaya’ has many medicinal properties and he wanted to explain this to his classmates, plus learn more about it from the teacher. The teacher, being familiar with the uses of the fruit was pleasantly surprised by Raju’s initiative. He went on to explain that this variety of lemon is a natural and ayurvedic medicine for the natural removal of kidney stones, without the use of harsh allopathic medicines.

That led to a vigorous discussion on other fruits and how they are being used to help with various ailments. It was a talkative and engaged class, buzzing with ideas and information! Isn’t this how we want our classrooms and children to be? Curious, eager and engaged? There’s so much more to learning, beyond textbooks!

The children went home and told their parents and elders about this fruit. So a humble lemon brought in by a curious student, has now impacted so many villages. Kidney stones afflict many people and we really hope that the knowledge shared by our students with their local communities will really help them when the need arises!

The Care of a School Community

Ramu is an active and curious 13 year old, studying in Class 8 in the Zilla Parishad High School, Bahadurapally. However, there was a period in his life, a mere 6 months ago, when his health was failing him and his parents, misguided in their belief about his ailment, sought help from a ‘witch doctor’ rather than proper medical advice. It was the efforts of his teachers at his school that eventually made his parents seek a qualified doctor’s help and made Ramu regain his health.

Born into a poor family, Ramu’s parents work as daily wage labourers. While Ramu was an engaged student, he began to suffer from asthma attacks and fits. On a couple of occasions, his teachers rushed him to hospital for treatment, but his parents, averse to western medicine, pulled him out of school and approached a witch doctor. As his condition deteriorated, Ramu couldn’t attend school for almost 6 months, which worried his friends and teachers.

Wanting to do the best for him and find a way to bring him back to school, his teachers met his parents to counsel them about taking proper treatment for his medical conditions, stop consulting the self-professed folk doctor and go to Malla Reddy Hospital. The school team urged his parents to do this for the sake of their son’s life and future and explaining that since Ramu’s condition wasn’t improving, it was urgent that they go to a hospital and meet the right doctor. We are very thankful that they succeeded in convincing Ramu’s parents, who then went to hospital, where under a good doctor’s guidance for 6 months, Ramu’s condition steadily improved!

Now, he’s back at school, much to everyone’s delight! Despite missing school for most of the academic year, Ramu is progressing, with patient help from his classmates and teachers. Now that he’s feeling well, he’s determined to stay in school to complete his education and further studies. He, his younger sister and his parents are immensely grateful for the timely help and advice that they received from the school team. We love the sense of responsibility and care that the schools show towards each and every student and teacher. It is precisely what a community is about and here, the ZPHS community rallied to wholeheartedly support Ramu and his family, improving his life in such positive ways. It’s also a beautiful example for the children, to see this environment of care and compassion for everyone.

A Very Special Birthday!

Bunny is a sweet 10 year old studying in Class 5 in Kalleda School. Unfortunately, his parents passed away when he was young, so he is being looked after by his aunt & uncle. To make the situation more dire, his relatives are financially very poor and hence unable to meet his minimum needs, though they try as much as they could. Bunny feels lonely, but enjoys his time in school with his friends and classmates.

Friends collecting funds for Bunny’s birthday surprise

Ta Da! Friends & teachers celebrating

On Bunny’s birthday, his friends wanted him to feel special & do something nice for him. RDF children themselves come from an economically deprived background & lead hard lives, yet with their values of compassion & care for fellow humans, they spoke to their parents and decided to collect money to gift him a set of new clothes. The staff was really moved by the children’s magnanimous gesture to help their friend and of course, Bunny was all smiles! In addition to this, the children also promised to help him with educational material whenever he needed it!

RDF looks after the needs of children who are either orphaned or from severely economically disadvantaged families, by sponsoring their education & all materials, in addition to providing them with free textbooks, notebooks, uniforms and midday meals. So though Bunny’s educational needs are being sponsored by the school, it was still a really thoughtful and lovely gesture on the part of the students to help him in as many ways as they can. We are so proud that these young children, who themselves don’t lead easy lives are filled with the spirit of generosity and kindness for those they perceive are less advantaged than them. Our hearts couldn’t be fuller!

Bunny is very interested in computers and works hard at learning new computer skills. He wants to become an Engineer. Our computer teacher mentors him, so that he can develop the range of skills that are required to make him feel empowered to learn, procure a good job and help himself financially.

We are Family!

RDF schools are more an extension of children’s families, rather than formal, isolated schools that don’t have a personal connect with children’s lives. Over the past 22 years,  tremendous effort has been put into creating lasting community relationships which is seen through how readily parents and the extended community members come forward to help the school in any way they can. We feel very blessed that each and every parent and village member trusts their local RDF school and that their children are in good hands – and we take this responsibility very seriously too.

Mr. Ramulu with Rakesh, at his home

Since each RDF school is an integral part of the village community, therefore, problems faced by children’s families are taken up seriously to offer support and help. One such case is the story of Sankineni Rakesh, a young hardworking boy from Rollakal School. Rakesh was very active in games and sports and had a polite and pleasing personality, always speaking with regard and care to teachers and students alike. Unfortunately, due to a major financial setback in his family, his family was unable to pay the school fees. In order to help his parents, Rakesh dropped out of school and did not attend school for 3 months. The Headmaster of the school, Mr. Ramulu, became concerned about his family welfare and went to his house to speak to his parents.

Mr. Ramulu, speaking to Rakesh’s father

He counselled the parents on the importance of education and building a career. He also told them that Rakesh had a bright future and that they should consider sending him back to school and not worry about the fees. His parents were convinced that going to school was the right way and decided to continue his studies. So, with the inspiration of the Headmaster and the support of his subject teachers, Rakesh worked hard to catch up with what he had missed. This story has a happy ending as Rakesh cleared his Class 10 SSC Board exams with a GPA of 6.3, which made everyone really happy!

Rakesh and his family is thrilled with his results and came to the school to thank everyone for convincing them to send Rakesh back to school and not worry about their financial problem and fee payment. This is the power of community relationships – creating an engaged and empowered community that always helps each other mutually!