Students of St. Mary’s School Safdarjung went for a Residential Project at Azadpura village in Madhya Pradesh. For the students it was nothing close to any other educational project they attended before, they call it the Intervention project. Oxford defines intervention as any interference in the affairs of others, especially by one state in the affairs of another. For the participants intervention here meant taking the beneficiary’s perspective and expectations on the idea of building an educational hub for them.
Here is the experience shared by one of the participant from the Residential Project:
First day of the project was dedicated to acclimatizing ourselves to this new environment, the acclimatization included profiling the community by knowing their culture, their daily routine all this spread across all the age group and for both sex. The motive behind profiling was to weigh the reactions of the locals towards an external entity like us. The results were quite positive as we were able to narrow down to the appropriate locality and timing for setting up our project. As for the perspective of locals towards us was warm and welcoming, this gave us a morale boost and filled us with happiness even before we started the project.
From the above profiling it was clear that targeting children between 3-5 years and their mothers was of highest priority. 3-5 years because that is the age group where depending on our qualification we would be able to provide them with the basic training such as verbal and motor training. As for their mothers, they were also a point of focus as children learn most from and listen most to their mothers.
After consistent effort we were able to attract the children to the school, this involved jumping over the psychological walls created by the villagers and making them feel comfortable. At the start we made sure we involved the children in simple recreational activities with prime focus on motor and language skills. There were two important lessons for us to take home, first being, reputation is an important factor when it comes to interventions. Secondly, we also learnt to be sensitive when it comes to interacting with people from different cultures as it took us time to break our barriers of limitation in order to be one of them. Hence from this day onward we decided to devote quality time in reflection, self-introspection and planning for the next day.
With high expectation we started our next day with the aim of bringing in the mothers of 3-5 years children to the school. This turned out to be a much tougher task as the women were not ready to leave their household and delay their daily chores. That is when we realized we let over-confidence cloud our thought process, which is when we decided to get into immediate discussions to solve this problem. In order to tackle this problem we decided to put in extra effort in order to convince the women to leave their houses but this too didn’t help. Once we returned back to the school all battered and drained, not because we were tired but because we didn’t manage to complete day’s objective. To our surprise at the end of the day, 8-10 women did turn up at the school. Thoughts on schooling and its importance were discussed between us and the participating women.
In spite of all the hurdles that we faced in the day, the major achievement was the active response of women and the confidence they showed to bring more women the next day. We also managed to get volunteers from among them to help us for the next day. It was a day of realization and self-reflection. We understood the importance of planning and that we should not have adopted a laid-back attitude after a minor achievement. Remaining day was spent on preparing for the next day which was the main day of INTERVENTION.
On the D-Day we felt more confident and organized. Firstly, we had our final recreational session which was specifically focusing on children’s cognitive and social development. Meanwhile we were also doing preparing for the upcoming volleyball match. The volleyball match was played between the two teams formed among the villagers of Azadpura. This was not just a mere match for us but the result of three days of our reputation building and execution of initiatives. We finally formed an effective recreational team. This was followed by the reception of women in huge number at the educational hub. One volunteers supported us a
lot; it was her who made that extra effort to bring 40-45 women to the new school. She proved herself and was very confident & willing. We conducted circle time with them which addressed the need of being
responsible once the children are admitted in school. We also made them self-realize the importance of time by using the medium of role play. It was good to see that it was a two-way communication process as they suggested lot of trainings and courses that can be conducted for them in the school in near future. The thought and significance of ‘empowerment’ was well conveyed. We ended the day by giving recognition to all our volunteers and the teams in the form on certificates, cash prizes and small gifts. We were very glad to see that all our beneficiaries went happy with a promise that they will always support when required. The trust in their eyes was our real achievement.
IAYP Residential Project 2014 gave us exposure to explore ourselves and to contribute towards a change. It made us more responsible and enlightened us on our role towards the economically disadvantaged. We learnt to work under limitations and deal with different people in difficult circumstances.