Archive for the ‘Health & Hygiene’ Category

An Extraordinary Turnaround

Little Abdul, posing

We love to share stories of change from the RDF community as well as from the Bahadurapally Government schools that are part of a quality education initiative between RDF and Tech Mahindra Foundation. We love to hear and share stories of how children are blossoming in the school environment, especially because of the painstaking work that has been spent on training teachers on how to build rapport with children and encourage child centric methodologies.

Asleep in class!

Abdul Salam is an orphan who was sent to study in the Mandal Parishad Primary School by the Shishu Vihar orphanage. When he first joined the school, he was lackluster. He didn’t participate in any classroom activities or even extra curricular ones; he only liked playing in the mud, wander around the school corridors and sleep. There were also some behavioural issues such as disturbing the class, rudeness, not listening to teachers’ instructions and lack of proper hygiene in using the toilet. In any other school, he would have been reprimanded, punished or asked to leave. But his teachers did not do so.

They showed a tremendous amount of patience and care towards him. They understood his background and life circumstance and how hard his life had been. So they gave him total freedom to go in and out of the class as per his wish. He was allowed to sit, sleep, read or do anything that interested him while in class. They also taught him to how use the toilet properly. Hence, over a period of time, he began trusting his teachers and classmates and his behavior changed for the better. Now he participates in class, enjoys playing with his friends rather than being alone and speaks well – he loves to recite stories and rhymes and has become so friendly that every teacher wants to chat with him!

Engrossed in work with a classmate

What better testament as to how teachers’ attitudes have a strong influence on a child? Abdul has had a complete turnaround and we couldn’t be happier to see him as the bright, sincere boy that he really is!

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Yoga for Life!

RDF cares about all its students’ overall health and life, not just their academic progress. The foundation for RDF’s work is the holistic development of the children, with a focus on developing them physically, mentally and emotionally. Yoga has been an important cornerstone in creating this kind of strong foundation in children’s lives.

Teachers from Yoga Vahini, Hyderabad, visited Matendla School and conducted a yoga training session for students and teachers. They learnt important asanas and pranayamas to help with balance, harmony, focus and building flexibility. Together, they discussed the main problem areas that occur in their lives and gave them specific asanas to do. Students and teachers felt strong and fresh after the session and noted that yoga helps them in their work, studies and everyday life in positive ways.

Slowly and surely, with yoga being such an intrinsic part of everyday life in RDF schools, even reluctant ones have been coming around and trying their hand at yoga. Over the years, students who have become proficient in yoga are taken for District and State level yoga meets, where RDF children perform very well. They have also become yoga ambassadors in their communities, strongly encouraging them to take up yoga, being proof of the benefits that it brings to their lives! Isn’t this what Educating, Engaging and Empowering is all about? 🙂

To the Aid of Friendship

What happens when an 8 year old falls and injures herself? Do you imagine an adult rushing to her aid to soothe and assist her? But this is not what happened. When Priya of Class 3 in Redlawada School injured herself in the school’s playground, it was her friends, D. Deepika and S. Harshitha who ran to help her.

They had the presence of mind to get her back to the main school building and bring the First Aid box. They administered the primary treatment till the Science teacher, Mr. Ashok, arrived to help them.  The 3 girls have been friends since LKG, so while it is no surprise that they helped their friend, what made the act notable was the remarkable composure of both girls as they calmed their friend and treated her wound.

The qualities of compassion and empathy demonstrated by Harshitha and Deepika, as well as the ability to make a quick decision to solve a problem is what makes this incident stand out for us. Instead of getting worried or waiting till an adult arrived, the young girls took matters into their hands. Again, such stories make us feel very proud and we thank the school for noticing the girls’ abilities and bringing it to everyone’s attention.

Commending an innate talent, an act of kindness, noticing the good things in children go a long way in bolstering their belief in themselves. We are sure both girls will continue to be positive role models for their peers and the community as they grow up.

The Yoga Star!

ros-2E. Kavya or RDF Rollakal School is an ardent advocate of yoga. Now in Class 10, Kavya took up learning yoga with the school’s Physical Education Teacher, Mr. Prabhakar 3 years ago. She has been practicing yoga daily and attributes her practices to her feeling of all around wellness. She feels physically strong, mentally alert and able to concentrate very well on her studies, sleeping well and feeling calm overall; all of which help her be in a better position to care and help others.

ros-1For her, it is very clear how yoga helps unite the 3 components of body, mind and spirit and how this leads of health, knowledge and inner peace. So, she uses every opportunity to advocate yoga to her friends and her community too. She strongly feels that physical ailments can be healed through yoga and distressful emotions can also be calmed through a regular practice.

ros-3Kavya is certainly a star for her friends and community, with her care and passion towards this ancient practice. We hope that she continues to be an inspiration to her friends, family and community to spread the word about yoga and empower ourselves by taking charge of our health at all levels!

Safeguarding the Kitchen Gardens

Like the five RDF institutions, the Mandal and Zilla Parishad schools in Bahadurpally village that are a part of the Tech Mahindra Foundation and RDF program partnership, have provision of planting fruits and vegetables in their kitchen gardens. Despite the efforts of the caretakers, in previous seasons, saplings couldn’t grow due to water shortage and pests.

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Yield in the Primary School kitchen garden

However, effective water management techniques such as saving water in drums and usage of boring water augmented the growth of the plants. The bandicoots and pests continued to remain a problem in the schools. The usage of natural pesticides prevented damage to the plants and produced good yield.

Yield in the High School kitchen garden

Yield in the High School kitchen garden

The seeds of spinach, soya beans, bottle gourds, tomatoes and papaya were purchased. Due to the above mentioned initiatives, the produce increased significantly in the schools. The sweet potatoes produced were used for cooking and served to all the students of the high school.

Beeriah and his wife, Ellava, the watchman and caretaker team have worked ceaselessly in order to protect the kitchen gardens and ensure that it flourishes. We are very grateful for their efforts!

Creating Social Awareness on Intoxicants and Tobacco

RDF’s holistic approach to education involves the core component of a robust Social Awareness Program. Helping local communities with social issues is part of all RDF schools’ philosophy.

The staff in Matendla School was growing increasingly worried about the consumption of pan masala, guthka and alcohol by senior citizens in the village. Concerned about the ill effects of such habits on the impressionable mind of young children and other family members, the staff wanted to do something that would not just help create awareness but also ensure that RDF alumni, children and the wider community not fall prey to such vices.

ms-dec-2The school organised a well planned evening wherein folk songs and a skit were used as tools to allow the community to understand the gravity of the situation. The skit was put together by students of Class 8, who used humour to highlight the issue. The audience was able to easily relate to the problems presented and stated that it reflected their social reality. The staff also conducted a presentation to explain the various medical problems that can come about as a result of such habits.ms-dec-3

We hope that the right message was conveyed to everyone present and the efforts of the Matendla School team help the villagers manage the situation proactively with the information provided to them.

Community Champions

Today, we would like to celebrate the community spirit that is being created in the 2 government schools being supported by RDF and Tech Mahindra Foundation in Bahadurapally.  When the 1st RDF school was started 2 decades ago in Kalleda, an early realization was the need to build a strong relationship between the school and the local community. Thereafter, one of the key aspects of RDF’s holistic education model is its community engagement programs in which every parent is seen as a stakeholder in the school’s operations and activities.

The new water filter

The new water filter

RDF’s partnership with the 2 Tech Mahindra Foundation sponsored schools commenced only 2 years ago. RDF’s best practices were adopted by both schools, with a lot of mentoring provided by senior RDF staff. Parental involvement in the school was demonstrated in the Mandal Parishal Primary School when Mr. Swamy, the father of a Class 4 student, Veera Kumar, wanted to ensure that children have access to safe drinking water.

Bearing the cost of the filter entirely on his own, the modest Mr. Swamy bought the filter at a cost of Rs. 16,000 and donated to the school. The total project cost was Rs. 25,000. This was when the teachers and the head cook stepped up to share the remaining cost collectively. Of course, the utilization of the filter would not have been possible without the plumbing work. In a noble gesture, Mr. Michael, the father of another student, Yeshuva of Class 5, offered to do the plumbing free of cost. Thus, the school received the precious gift of a much needed water filter, with the help of the community champions!

Little children drinking clean & filtered water

Little children drinking clean & filtered water

These are the case studies that serve to demonstrate the efficacy of a good schooling system – a system that goes beyond academic work and grades. The system provides quality in education not just through its academic work, but also through the quality of its relationships. We feel very humbled and thank the parents and staff who extended their resources,  help and support to benefit every child in the school.