New Delhi - April - June 1995
SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION THROUGH EDUCATION
Education is key to social transformation. For Deepalaya Education is the mainstay, as it applies universally to children, Youth and adults, male and female. Delhi still has 46% illiterates by census counts. For Deepalaya, launching into education has three Cardinal Goals.
a) Achieve the basic right of distributive justice. The 54% literates of Delhi have the moral responsibility of making the remaining 46% lkterates. To this distributive justice Deepalaya launched itself into total literacy.
b) Over 1,20,000 children below 14 years living in the slums of Delhi are not going to school or have no access to education. Look at a nation's future whose capital city with such a large number of growing undeducated. How do we reconcile with this phenomenon, being a National issue. To this reason Deepalaya is committed to the National cause of educating children to give India, Delhi its true educated face.
c) Average Indian is a religious person. How do the faith of each person become relevant to the other. All religions teach to love, care and share. To make the faith of those who created Deepalaya become relevant, visible and experiential, we have launched Deepalaya school so that it can practically witness our faith, belief of rationale for action, making it relevant for the vulnerable.
Fortunately for Deepalaya after six years of relentless efforts, we obtained two acres of land from Delhi Development Authority to establish Deepalaya school. This will establish, the nucleus institution Deepalaya, a centre, exclusively for children from weaker sections but with an approach for integration, quality, social cause and excellence. This is already evident in the performance of children in the Deepalaya unit at Sanjay Colony. This news letter is focussing on the same.
Deepalaya would need over Rs.2 crores (Rs.20 million) to establish the school by putting up necessary buildings, furnishing and equipping the same. This is a challenge and an herculean task before us. We earnestly solicit your support, co-operation and patronage in this endeavour. This would be a golden opportunity for those who wish to involve in Nation building while meeting a social cause.
Secretary & Chief Executive
The Fortunate few who had come to Kamani Augitorium on March 10 could not have asked for more. The thunderous ovation that greeted Raja and Radha Reddy and the children of the slums who put up a scintillating and touching show echoed in ones ears for a long time after the curtains had come down.
"I never knew that these children had os much talent and potential in them" said an emotional Raja Reddy and announced that he would take them under his care. For Deepalaya it was a proud moment for the orgnaisation has always strived for the sensitization and integration of the slum community with the apperstrata of society and htis was another feather in its cap.
In fact, Kala Arpan is an annual event organised by Deepalaya where in eminent artists dedicate their art for the cause of children in the slums. Through this programme, Deepalaya envisages at not only involving eminent artists but also sensitize them and hte general public about their problems as well as their strengths and talents.
For Padma Shri Raja and Radha Reddy, the famed Kuchipudi dancers who have performed all over the world, it was an altogether different experience. "Training these children has been an experience and has opened my eyes to new vistas" they said. For the children also, it was a memorable occasion, to dance on the same platform who this duo who has given a new meaning to this ancient form of dance.
The whole of Kamani Auditorium wore a festive look for the occasion. The cloudy sky and the light drizzle could nto dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowd that had turned up for the show. The event was well publicised through posters, press advertisements and write ups in newspapers and magazines. Donor Coupons for the show was available at various prominent outlets in the city. The show began with the welcoming of the distinguished guests by our Chief Executive and Secretary Mr.T.K.Mathew which was followed by the lighting of the lamp.
The dance recital began with the customary Ganapathi Vandana followed by Usha Parinayam and Jathiswaram. Infact the recital started off in a fast pace with the duo in fine fettle with their un-kuchipudi liek leaps and turns indicating the questo fo conquering space and time. Next on the agenda was a solo performacne by Raja Reddy which portrayed the Man-Lion reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the popular fable of Narsimha who took this fierce form to free his devotee Prahlada from the tyranny of his father Hiranya Kashyap.
Later there was a solo performance by Radha Reddy as well which was well received by the audience. The music led by Prema Ramamurthi who had specially come from Hyderabad was one of the highlights of the show. But the event that stole the heart of the audience was the last item where in children from the slums with along with students of Natya Tarangini, a school run by the Reddy's performed along with the dancing duo on a common platform. The lyrical choreography comparing the child to a many hued flower of a garden touched the cords of the audience who gave a standing ovation to the dancers. It was a momentous occasion for the entire Deepalaya family as the essence of Kala Arpan that is sensitization of the audience, the children and the artists had been achieved.
ON THE WINGS OF SUCCESS
"Poonam has got a fantastic sense of rhythm and that is what it needs to become a great dance" said famous Kuchipudi exponent Raja Reddy as he watched her graceful steps during the rehearsals of Kala Arpan, and no wonder it was she who stole the hearts of the distinguished audience that day.
It seems that thesense of rhythm has permeated even her soul for the thing that strikes one while talking to her is her gentleness and serenity. Ever smiling and a picture of containment is how her principal Ms.Varsha Verma describes this twelve year old girl, a student of class six of Deepalaya school at Sanjay Colony.
Eldest daughter of a family of five childrne, her day begins well befiore the first rays of the sun filters through the sky. She has to help her mother with the house hold chores like cleaning, washing and cooking before rushing to catch the school bus and back from school, she has to attend to her brothers and sisters before she can settle down to do her home work.
Hectic and unimaginable for most of us but Poonam brushes it away with a wave of her hand and a smile on her face "I am totally contented with life". Infact Poonam joined Deepalaya as a tiny tot in one of its creches and threre has been no looking back eversince. A fast learner and an above average student, Poonam is also a talented singer, dancer and actor at the same time.
The air she breathes at Deepalaya has permeated her family atmosphere. Her father who works at a laundry shop has brought a professional touch to his job while their lifestyle at home has undergone a sea change. Her parents have realised the need to educate their children and given them a chance to succeed in life.
In fact, Deepalaya has come, in a ray of light into Poonam's life. Her small dwelling presents a very tidy look, something that cannot be associated with a slum. Poonam has not yet decided what she plans to do in life. But she is sure that life holds a lot of promise. All those dark days have disappeared, Deepalaya has ushered in a new beginning, it has given her the confidence and courage to take life head on "what more should I ask for" she says with a twinkle in her eyes.
DEEPALAYA SPEARHEADING LITERACY MOVEMENT
Deepalaya has joined hands with the Government of Delhi in its mission of making the capital a totally literate state.
At a high level meeting held in this regard, the secretary of education, Mr.Raghunathan has made Deepalaya responsible for achieving total literacy in the area that falls under Rajouri Garden constituency. As a part of this programme, rallies, pupper shows, meetings and extensive surveys were conducted in thsi area from February to April '95. A week long training programme was conducted where more than 16 members participated in two batches. Moreover the response to rallies conducted in the area was also encouraging a smore than 30 volunteers expressed their willingness to teach the illiterate.
DEEPALAYA SCHOOL: MAY A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM
The indusrial nerve center of Delhi, Okhla is a picture of neglect. Narrow roads, decaying pools of stangnant water, unauthorized encroachments, industrial pollution and mushrooming slums which shelters a majority of industrial workers.
For hundreds of these slum dwellers, the only redeeming feature is the Deepalaya school which imparts education in the English medium to their children and guiding them along the path of progress and sunshine. Says Lachman Das a peon who works in one of the industrial units. "Deepalaya has come as a blessing. My twelve year old daughter is good at studies, has a confident out look and can even speak in English, I am sure that she is the answer to my aspirations and one day we will move out of these slums". In fact Deepalaya has not only succeed in imparting education but has changed their entire outlook towards life. Today most of the parents of these children feel the need for cleanliness, snitation, education and baove all the need for leading a decent life.
From a humble beginning way back in 1979 in the drawing room of a Chittaranjan Park house, Deepalaya school has come a long way brining light into the lives of thousands of children. From a modest total of eighteen in the beginning, the school grew from strength to strength touching the 450 mark by the year 1992. But the crowning glory came in June 1992 when DDA allowed land for the setting up of a formal Deepalaya school at Sanjay Colony. This beautiful cluster of red brick buildings added a fillip to Deepalaya's activities. The school which follows the NCERT pattern of education has its medium in English and has revolutionised the approach to education among slum dwellers. Today, the school has to conduct entrance examinations due to the heavy demand for admissions. "People are hell bent on getting their children admitted here" says Ms.Varsha Verma, Principal of the school and no wonder Deepalaya school runs two shifts a day and has a strength of 750 students. Besides transport facilities, the students are also offered uniforms, books and stationery free but a contribution is collected to ensure serious participation.
Deepalaya school has committed and qualified teachers who take special care and interst for the holistic development of the children. Besides academics, children are encouraged to take part in co-curricular activities such as Music, Dramatics, Dance, Painting and Sports. During the summer vacations special hobby classes are run wherein children are given specialized training in book binding, carpentry, electronics and bead work. For further exposure in these fields Deepalaya networks with National School of Drama, Bal Bhavan and Sahtiya Kala Kendra. In fact for this eyar's special project 'each one teach one' would be undertaken by the children to spread literacy.
The children are also not far behind in academics infact all the sixty children who appeared in 37th annual all India UN information test organized by USO cleared the examination in flying colours.
Ms.Varsha Verma, principal of Deepalaya school keeps on encouraging the students to strive tirelessly. "If you cannot be a pine on top of the tree, be a little shrub, but be the best little shrub," she tells them. All this and more have started paying rich dividends, for a good percentage of children have broken out of their shell. Today, Alpesh Kumar is a budding poet, Poonam, a graceful dancer, Hema a melodious singer, Mclena, a promising painter and Rajesh a brilliant student whose performance in academics and sports can match with the best of the public schools, small examples of Deepalaya's efforts.
Deepalaya school also runs a Special care unit for handicapped children, infact 20 children are studying here. Five year old Jyoti could not utter a single word when she entered the portals of Deeaplaya but a year of love and special care has brought her to the threshold of joining the regular stream, today its heartening to see her reciting nursery rhymes.
Today Deepalaya and its band of committed teachers together are transforming the lives of thousands of underprivileged children through their love and care, few years from now these promising children would reach to the rewer heights and would colour their dreams into reality.
ROC WORKSHOP: OF THE CHILD, BY THE CHILD, FOR THE CHILD
Making the deprived children aware of their rights and duties is paerhaps the most neglected aspect of child related development activities in our country.
So when UNICEF approached NGO's working the field of child development to organize a gathering of children where they can interpret their rights and make decisive statements about them, Deepalaya took the lead and organised a first ever workshop of its kind which turned out to be a huge success. More than 3,200 children drawn from 31 slum clusters of the capital drafted their own Charter of Rights as they perceived it and read it out to an august gathering which comprised of Mr.Jerry Pinto, UNICEF representative, Dr.Hans Hoyer of PLAN International, Mrs.Madhu Pant, Director Bal Bhavan and othe rdistinguished guests.
In fact a lot of hard work went into making this workshop a success. Children from Deepalaya's target area aged 10 to 18 years formed grou of tens and elected leaders fro class room discussions on the issue. With the relentless efforts of its staff, Deepalaya reached out to approximately 3,200 children in a group of ten each in a total of 320 groups.
A massive mass awareness campaign was launched in all our 31 projects where pamphlets, posters, wall writings and banners were the basic machanisms. The communication group of West Delhi project, Deepam enacted street plays on rights of the child at various community gatherings. Painting and poem competitions were also organised.
The culmination of all these programmes was the staging of the ROC convention at the sprawling Bal Bhavan lawns where 3,200 children prepared 32 reports on child rights as they perceived it. In the afternoon session of this first ever workshop of its kind the children congregated at the open air theatre of Bal Bhavan where all the 32 reports were read out. Some of the rights demanded by the children included Right to vote, Right to love and care from their parents, Right to take their own decisions and Right to equality among the sexes.
Finally these 32 reports were compiled into final draft report which was distributed to people from ress, child rights activists and representatives from NGOs. The final draft report reflected the true understanding of child's perception of his/her rights. This day long unique workshop concluded with the matic songs, poems and plays on the child rights.
ANNUAL SPORTS MEET HELD
Gaiety, fund and excitement marked the annual sports meet of Deepalaya which was held at the G.B.Pant polytechnica ground on third February, 1994. The Deepalaya formal school emerged on top and retained the prestigious Trophy with its excellent performance.
In fact, the cream of Deepalaya's talents were visible on this day as Inter Project competitions and group wise events were held earlier. Apart from the usual events like sprints, discus throws and pole vault, fund games like musical chairs, snack race and wheel barrow race generated a lot of excitement and baonhomie.
A NEW BEGINNING
The dream of a second formal school became a reality with the inauguration of the Ramditti JR Narang Deepalaya School at Khirki village on February 26, Mr.S.Raghunathan, Commissiner cum Secretary, Education, Delhi State who was the chief guest on the occasion lauded the Narangs for their generous contribution and said that other corporate bodies should take a clue out of this and come forward to help such organisations like Deepalaya who are doing wonderful work for the upliftment of the poor.
Earlier the children from the formal Deepalaya school at Sanjay Colony enthralled the select audience with cultural programmes which included Rajasthani dance, plays and group song. One of the major attractions was that the whole inaugural function was organised and compered by Deepalaya students.
Children from Khirki village as well as from Golekuan and neighbouring slums are attending the school. Ms.Anjali Ghate, Principal of the school said that the school would strive to inculcate an enquiring mind among, its students with innovative learning methods to fit Deepalaya's vision "lighted to enlighten".
DEEPALAYA CHILDREN PARTAKE IN SCOUTS CAMP
About fifteen children under the care of Deepalaya took part in the All India boys Scouts Association camp held at Okhla in the capital from 22nd February to 28th February.
The week long camp which attracted children from Patiala, Chandigarh, Himachal and Delhi not only gave emphasis to physical fitness and drills but also to debates and discussions. In fact the these of the camp was 'National Unity' wherein the children discussed on the various aspects of the issue. The children of Deepalaya led by Group leader Kishan Kumar took part in all the activities and even shared with the Scouts about the good work being done by organisations like Deepalaya.
TALENT DEVELOPMENT TEST HELD
Shalimar Bagh phase in project was the venue for Talent Development Test (Gyan Ranjan Protiyogita) which was held on 31st December. The competition was aimed at unveiling the hidden talents of the children from the slum clusters. Infact this phase in project which is still in its initial stages is striving hard to unite all the 9 clustes under the aegis of Deepalaya. The competition was based on subject interests of children besides general knowledge and test of reasoning. Participants were grouped according to the academic standards and all the responsibilities were borne by members of the community which made the event unique.
Around six hundred children took part in the cluster level competition which was followed by 200 selected children who took part in the final round of the test. The winners of the competition were awarded prizes by Mr.P.R.Arya, Deputy Education Officer. Mr.T.K.Mathew, Chief Executive and Secretary of Deepalaya was also present on the occasion.