Archive for the ‘Social Responsibility’ Category

Self Care

The ability to look after ourselves is also a life skill. Having a clean living environment by taking care of our surroundings definitely not the domain of just women! When the boys from the RDF VAPV Junior College returned to their hostel after the summer vacation, they found that the heat and rains had taken a toll, with dust and peeling paint on the wall. The rooms definitely needed sprucing up!

They took the praiseworthy initiative to clean and repaint the room by themselves and did not ask for any external help in order to do so. It was also great to see them collaborate and self organise themselves into groups in order to tackle the tast efficiently – again, life skills that are very much required. It is very heartening to see that RDF children took this initiative. This is a skill that comes in handy when anybody moves to a new location.

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The Right Values

RDF prides itself on the excellent value based education system that forms the fabric of its schools. While academic education certainly has its place, RDF has made tremendous effort to inculcate life skills in its students, placing a lot of value on human relationships.

Cheran (R), feeding Josh

Cheran is 11 years old and studies in Class 6 in Redlawada School. He likes being in school and engages well academically and in extracurricular activities too. He is a natural helper and is always eager to assist. Recently, his younger brother, Josh, injured 2 fingers on his right hand and needed help with everyday tasks. It was big brother, Cheran, who took it upon himself to help Josh as much as he could.

It’s beautiful to see the emphasis on family values in our students. Seeing care in relationships and acts of kindness sets the right example for our students. Social responsibility starts with our personal lives first and then flows in our outer world. In this consumerist world, we hope these are the right values that will enable students to balance all aspects of their lives.

Not Just Recycling Paper!

Running an NGO is very gratifying work, but it comes with its own challenges as well, primarily in the area of costs to keep the schools running. We are very blessed, that over 2 decades, we’ve had many individuals and organisations joining hands with us, to provide high quality and holistic education to rural children.

However, this story is an acknowledgement about how much our school teams also do, in order to cover part of their operating costs or reduce it. One method employed by Matendla School is recycling text books. Students are instructed to look after the text books carefully, so that the same books can be used the following year. This practice has been working well for the past 4 years. In addition to this, well preserved books look lovely with nice covers on them! The children and staff collect newspapers or old covers to be reused. Just before schools reopened this year, the Primary School teachers did an excellent job of collecting old covers and covering all the textbooks for classes KG to 5!

Small drops make an ocean and in this way, every effort made by the schools to look after some of their operating costs goes a long way. Since the schools run transparently, it’s also a great way for the students to become involved in such practices. By being involved at this fundamental level, the knowledge and learning is retained – another step to creating a wholesome learning environment in our schools!

 

Skilling for Life

A session in progress with an SF volunteer at Global Edge School

India has a startling statistic which is that it churns out the highest number of unemployable graduates each year! Rote based education, intense academic focus and little time invested in skill or vocational development is the root cause for this. Children in rural India also have it tougher than their urban counterparts due to poorer infrastructure and little done to develop teachers. However, the story in RDF schools is very different. We are cognizant of this reality of rural education, hence have put in intense effort for over 2 decades to ensure well trained staff and attending to the holistic development of the children, going beyond academic achievements.

Fully engaged!

India’s graduates need employable skills. For rural children, English is paramount, given that it’s not present in the learning environment. Communication, team building, dealing with conflict, cultural differences are other skill areas that we also pay attention to. We feel blessed that we have partners and supports who understand these constraints and customize skilling programmes for our staff and students.

Focused discussion

As part of English Communication Improvement and Personality Development programmes, our students attend a Summer Camp at Global Edge International School, Hyderabad, conducted by Synchrony Financial. This year 42 students came to Hyderabad for this camp. The children had a lot of fun with the Synchrony team who created interesting activities in English focusing on LSRW skills. They also had music and yoga classes. With so much fun and much to do, the 1 month training flew!

We are immensely grateful to the Global Edge team for not only providing the venue each year, but also providing accommodation and drinking water to the participants this year and of course, the Synchrony volunteers for caring about the future of our students and providing them with great activities to groom them for success. RDF has sustained itself for 23 years because of the committed support of such partners.

 

Help for our Feathered Friends

The education curriculum at RDF schools goes far beyond classroom education. Being socially responsible citizens is taught to RDF children from a young age and this expresses itself in various forms that have a positive impact on the local community too.

With summer temperatures soaring, animals and birds bear the brunt of harsh summers even more than humans. The scarcity of water takes its toll on our feathered and furry friends too!

Rollakal School students and teachers felt bad seeing birds flying in search of water and decided to do something to protect them from the heat. They have made water bowls from recycled jerry cans and hung them in the branches of mango trees in the school grounds. The kitchen staff, students and staff always check the water bowls, replenishing them with clean water.

Now they are delighted to see various birds flocking to the bowls to quench their thirst!

The Care of a Community

Over the 23 years since RDF started its 1st institution, we had a vision of impacting the local community through starting a school. So it wasn’t just about educating rural, underprivileged children, in order to give them the tools to live a life out of poverty; but also to get the community involved in the school. Over 2 decades later, we are proud to say that all RDF institutions are seen as beacons of excellence, with active participation from local villagers, who help in any way they can.

Banoth Mothilal is an alumnus of Kalleda School and RDF VAPV Junior College. He belongs to a schedule tribe and his father is an illiterate farm, who has put in years of toil to ensure that Mothilal finishes his education. Mothilal never let his parents down and was a very sincere student, earning the admiration of his classmates and professors. He got 8.8 GPA in the SSC Exams, 916/1000 in the Intermediate exams and 17,000 rank in EAMCET. He was pursuing Civil Engineering in Warangal when life struck a blow and he fell sick for 3 months, being diagnosed with PNH (Paroxysmal Noctural Hemoglobinuria), in which the platelets count is severely affecting, thus affecting his ability to study, work or do any work for a length of time. He was treated at Global and Good Life Hospital in Hyderabad and discharged recently.

The illness has taken a toll on him and this once active boy is tired and unable to attend college. The medicines have made him gain weight and he is unable to walk or stand. But he nurses an intense desire to resume college and become an engineer. His friends and professors from the Junior College visited him and have offered to help in any way they can. This has revived some of Mothilal’s spirits. Their visit and kind words have given him hope that he can recover.

The bond shared in college has not been forgotten and we are grateful that the college community has stepped forward to help him when he needs help. We are praying for Mothilal’s recovery and achieving everything he desires.

The Importance of Educating Girls

Times are slowly changing in rural India when girls are encouraged to go to school, remain in school and pursue their dreams. We see this happen in the RDF institutions and with RDF’s best practices firmly in place in the Tech Mahindra-RDF partnership Government schools, we are seeing similar stories emerging from these 2 schools too. We find such stories very inspiring and this gives us hope that things are moving in the right direction. While education is crucial to help regain financial independence and live lives out of poverty, girl child education is a social change taking firm root.

Jyothi

Jyothi is a Class 6 student in ZPHS who has been helping her mother who works in a canteen on daily wages, during holidays and at home, since her father passed away when she was very young. Gaining courage from her mother, who advised her to remain in school and find a good job, Jyothi has been diligent in academics and extracurricular activities. She loves quiz competitions! She’s working hard with the hope of getting a Government scholarship for her higher education.

Manisha

Manisha is a Class 9 student in the same school. Though the family is going through the recent bereavement of the loss of her father a few months ago, again, it’s her mom who has encouraged her to go to school and remain focused on her education. We see her mother’s fortitude in Manisha, as she’s getting back to life in school and pursuing studies with care and help from her teachers and peers. She also excels in sports and was awarded Rs. 1000 for Best Student by TNR Academy.

The future is bright for girls like Jyothi and Manisha and it shows the importance of having family support and an enabling environment at home. We honour their mothers and many such families who forge ahead with their goals with grace and tenacity, despite grave setbacks and challenges. When we see such inspiring change in rural communities, it gives us hope for the future of girls.