Coming from the busy bustling life of Mumbai, my visit to the Navjyoti India Foundation and India Vision Foundation was an eye opener and a surreal experience. Both these organizations founded by Ms. Kiran Bedi focus on educating rural folk and prison inmates respectively.
Located on the outskirts of New Delhi, Bawana is a small rural village that houses the Navjyoti India Foundation. On the first day of the International Award for Young People, we had a healthy discussion with Mr. Sunny Nagpal and Mrs. Vaishali about the aim and vision of the trust. We made a schedule of the next ten days and divided ourselves into groups of two. The Navjyoti India Foundation had adopted certain centres in the village to promote academic learning. We taught science, math, English, Hindi and various sports to the children.
During my time there, I was amazed by the enthusiasm of the children. Our lectures included math -- Roman numerals, tables , even and odd numbers; science -- recognition of basic animals, pollution, gravity; English and Hindi -- the alphabet, words and sentence construction; sports -- making a rulebook for cricket. I was astounded when I asked a girl what she does at home, and she replied, "I go to other people's houses and teach them what I learn during the day." Through this medium, the children spread knowledge across the village. We also understood that some of them had problems with the basic concepts and so gave them some extra time and taught these concepts again.
The main highlight was a cricket tournament that was organized by us. We divided both boys and girls in four teams, with each team having two SIS students. We first taught our teammates the proper batting stances, bowling techniques and catching practice. Everyone was very excited and gave their best and Palash's and Rohan's team won the tournament. After so much interaction with the kids we had formed a special bond with them.
And the icing on the cake was our last day visit to the Bhondsi Jail, Gurgaon. It was here that we saw how India Vision Foundation works. They teach arts and crafts to the children of the women inmates who are too young and stay with their mothers. For men, they have computers too. The men inmates performed a dance for us and then we also joined them later for a few steps. This is done so that they don't remain idle and once they are released, their minds aren't distracted. I was very impressed by their methods of teaching and their approach for achieving their aims. This Residential Project under International Award for Young People made me appreciate the privileges I enjoy. The NIF and IVF model is revolutionary, something that can be replicated easily. The children I came across were curious to learn and eager to imbibe knowledge. The process of upliftment is slow; it would take generations for rural children to overcome their circumstances. My time at NIF and IVF also taught me a lot about myself and will always stay with me for life!
- ROHAN MEHTA, (Gold Aspirant, Singapore International School, Mumbai), GRADE 12