New Delhi - January - March 1997
SUMIT, TAKING THE ODDS IN HIS STRIDE
Struck by polio at the age of two and crippled for life, struck back to inspire many by his dauntless courage.
His sense of dignity never allowed him to join a stream of shabily clad begging children whot ry every tactics to evince the sympathy of the passer-bys.
Sumit's ordeal took a painful stride when his mother passed away, followed by regular beating and maltreatment at the hands of his father and step-mother, which finally led to Sumit setting out fo the home. Meanwhile, his studies were also caught amidst the whirl of misfortunes, thus resulting in discontinuing of studies and joining a 'bindi' making factory to earn bread for himself.
At the age of ten, his maternal aunt was moved by the sad plight of her newphew, and gave him shelter. Sumit used to help her manage the tea-stall. Perhaps, her aunt's feeling was no short lived that within next few months she disburdened herself by letting her newphew to fight alone in a world of alienation. Left with very few choices, Sumit started living on the streets, after some irregular jobs at various factories, finally he had a change of fortune, when he met Sitaram, a tailor by profession. Sitaram not only taught him skills of tailoring but also gave him shelter. Masterji, as fondly called by Sumit, said that he has certainly not gone out of his way to help this boy, but he is morely fulfilling his moral responsibilities towards a boy, who won't have any option other than to beg on the streets.
Since then, Sumit has not looked back, he with encouragement of Masterji and social workers of Deepalaya dreams positively to set a tailor shop of his own, and wants to help disadvantaged children to earn their livelihood by giving employment in his shop.
Today, sumit is a proud-owner of tricycle which he got from Delhi Government, he proudly narrated how he went to Chief Minister's office and how he could manage a tricycle for himself.
Perhaps, he is experiencing the better days of his life but he does miss his childhood, School and his friends. He wants to learn English and Mathematics because he feels these two subjects are elementary to run a shop. so he wants to join National Open School (NOS) in the next session and at least complete his secondary level education.
Sumit does not consider his disability to be a hurdle, he feels one should have faith on self and God to overcome the odds. Perhaps, it was his confidence and tenacity which has helped him to overcome his handicap to look at the newer heights of life.
PULSE POLIO CAMPAIGN
Polio, one of the child disability diseases that has afflicted the children fro many centuries might get a place in the history books with Government Bodies and NGO's joining hands in eradication of Polio.
On 7th December, a campaign was launched country wide to immunise children below five, to protect them from this fatal disease. Deepalaya also geared up to make this campaign a success in locations catered by Deepalaya. Samity members made a fortnight long survey to identify children below five and an awareness drive, through posters, pamphlets, films was launched to animate the community. Dr.Harsh Vardhan, Health Minister of Delhi paid a visit at Pulse Polio campaign organised by Juggi Jhompri Uthan Samiti in Raghubir Nagar area and he personally immunised ten children from the project. ON the dya nearly 30,000 children were immunised in South, West and nOrth West Delhi Project locations of Deepalaya.
BAL UTSAV CELEBRATIONS
Deepalaya has always aimed at giving the children from the slums an opportunity for all round development. Keeping this in mind Deepalaya organised Bal Utsav from 21st to 22nd November in its West Delhi Project. The event focussed on unveiling the hidden talents, be it Sport Fancy Dress Competition, Debates, Song & Dance Competition besides exhibits were on display on subjects ranging from child development, child rights to educational tools.
Nearly 900 children participated in this two day long event, which was made possible with wide support and active participation of 20 samities working in the West Delhi areas.
THRIFT AND CREDIT-MEANS TO ARREST POVERTY
An important means to overcome poverty is to make the community realise their potential to generate its own resources. There is an inceasing need for inculcating community with concept of self help rather than depending on formal & informal sectors for help. To educate the community, an awareness programme on "Thrift and credit" was organised from 18th to 22nd November '96 at Tagore Basti, Gandhi Basti, Indira Camp, Karpuri Thakur, Golekuan, V.P Singh and Sanjay Colony prejects in South Delhi.
Documentary films highlighting the benefits of thrift & credit groups and case studies were presented on how to create such group and likely problems one can face while forming such groups.
In the end a quiz based on the iflm were put to the participating groups and successful participants who gave correct answers were given prizes.
So much inspiration was drawn from the film that in Tagore Basti and Transit Camp one group each was formed and two groups were also formed in Indira Camp, thus making the awareness drive a success.
TRAINING WORKSHOP FOR NON-FORMAL EDUCATION TEACHERS
From time to time Deepalaya organises training workshops for the non-formal education teachers in order to develop a better understanding of teaching the students who are either drop-outs or have never been to a school.
One such training programme was held at Sanjay Colony project from 4th to 8th November '96. Through the workshop teachers were given an insight into importance of non-formal education pattern, need for classification of students based on their awareness and intelligence levels, and to what extend teachers can mobilise community support besides obtaining outside help from Government institutions, need for understanding the child psychology, environment in which child is growing. Facilitators for the workshop were from district level education and training institution, they also trained the participating teachers on study materials, language & moral education and also pattern of evaluation that should be followed.
Thus the workshop was of great benefit for the twenty three participating teachers to improve their skills and method of teaching these special children.
HEALTH AND NUTRITION TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR WOMEN
Divya Samiti in West Delhi Project of Deepalaya organised a training programme for the women on health and nutrition. The programme was orgnaised with Centre for Growth Alternatives from 25th to 26th October, 1996.
The programme aimed at educating mothers on how to take care of the new born baby and importance of balanced diet for the mothers. Facilitators took help of picture charts, by means of which they could teach the participating 18 women on various growth states of child development. Training programme also attempted to remove some of the misconceptions regarding birth of female and male child.
Facilitators followed a participatory approach in which participants were drawn to discussions on importance of Vitamins and Proteins in their diet. Deepalaya plans to organise similar training programmes at other project areas to lay importance to the healthy development of the new born and the mother.
FLIGHT OF FANTASY
For many Saturday, the 7th December shall remain fresh in their memories. Why not, it was like a fairy tale for children who perhaps would only have seen an aeroplane flying over the slums, and perhaps few could have dreamt to travel in one!
But for 46 children from Deepalaya School it was flight of fantasy indeed, it was made possible courtesy British Airways, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of UNICEF.
According to Kevin Steel, who was the inspiration behind the "flight of fantasy", they could bring joy into the lives of these children, may be for a single day, but it gave him and his crew an immense satisfaction.
The children narrated their maiden experience of flying, some fo them were frightened when the plane took off and some were more involved in fun & frolic. Sunil, who stays in Transit Camp, a slum cluster in Captain David Meggs, but little could they understand of each other except for language of emotions. For Shamim & Anjali, they were busy looking at the world from the skies, and for Harvender, Pavitri, Shiv Sagar, they could master steps of Makerena and were too busy sipping coke and playing with ballons.
At the end of the day some children if not all said with strong voice that they would work hard to make this maiden flight a beginning.
DEEPALAYA ON GLOBAL FORUM
October and November proved to be fruitful months for Deepalaya, as Mr.T.K.Mathew, Chief Executive & Secretary accompanied by Mrs.Mary Mathew, Sponsorship Officer brought home 100 new sponsors and 25 donors form Canada, U.S.A, Germany, Holland, U.K. and France.
During their trip to Canada they attended International Forum for Child Welfare Workshop Forum '96. The forum was attended by 158delegates and experts from 32 countries. They met and discussed with aprticipants key issues influencing Child's development. Delegates were also given an insight on Deepalaya and the developmental work undertaken by the roganisation.
The trip which began with a note of optimism continued to earn tremendous response and recognition in Canada, Germany, USA, Holland, U.K and Fance. It paved way for networking and fund raising with Institutions, schools and individuals, it also opened vistas for shcool to school project, for cultural and educational exchanges.
We take the opportunity to put on recored our sincere appreciation to all those who supported Deepalaya by donations, sponsorships as also for the hospitality, care and concern extended to both of them.
An exercise undertaken by Deepalaya each year gives the children from slums a chance to exhibit their latent talents and also gives them an opportunity to converse on friendly terms with children from higher rungs of the society through medium of acting.
Abhinaya stepped into its fifth year with children from Happy Model School (Janakpuri), Cambridge School (Srinivaspuri), and Deepalaya School and Projects putting upa spectacular performances on 3rd December at Shri Ram Centre, after a month long workshop, where the children imbibed skills ine xpression, articulation and music.
The programme began with an invocation, followed by the lighting of the lamp, then welcome address by Mr.T.K.Mathew, Chief Executive and Secretary and release of the commemorative Souvenir by Hon'ble justice of the Supreme Court, Mr.K.T.Thomas.
Then it was the time for the first play "Alladin Ka Chirag" a popular fable from the Arabian Nights about a little boy and a friendly Jinni who with their supernatural power could rescue their kingdom from the enemies. The play received wide applause from the well attended audience.
Next was "Andher Nagri Chauput Raja" which is a satirical depiction of King, who with his corrupt depiction of a King, who with his corrupt deeds masterminded the downfall of the Kingdom in order to satisfy his vested interests.
The children from public schools did have some inhibitions, Ashish, IXth std student from Happy Model School had some resrvations towards the children from slums, but when the workshop progressed he could find how indifferent were his impressions. He could fill friends Suraj, Krishan and many others. Bajrangi from Deepalaya could never think of a day when he would perform before the packed audience and for young Priyanka from Cambridge School, the workshop taught her the importance of team work.
For Happy Model School this was the first time they participated in Abhinaya. According to the teacher incharge of play, Ms.Astha,
there is a need for the children from public school to interact with and understand the hurdles the under privileged children encouter daily, they could have been no better forum than play-acting. Mr.K.N.Dhar, Principal of Cambridge School, he has only words of appreciation for this kind of integration effort and underlined that this was the single most reason behind their schools participation in Abhinaya since its inception.
Indian Express has always come forward to be the media sponsor for the event, Ms.Reena Sundereshan, Deputy Chief Manager (Corporate Relations), feels that the thought behind Abhinaya itself is quite aspiring, and Indian Express always encourates such novel exercise which aims at narrowing the gap between the two classes of school children.
School is a place for living and preparing to live in future. The students of our school had an opportunity to take aprt in Abhinaya '96 along with the children from Deepalaya, through the medium of acting.
Each society consists of communities who posses distinct collective characteristics that separate them from other paying dichotomy between two groups. The bridge the gap and re-establish access to equal opportunity, the students of Happy Model School came out of their "Ivory Tower" and joined the hands with the children of lesser God. This project enabled the students in cultivating a spirit of togetherness and opened access into the deepest core of our society where children irrespective of their economic and social-disparities collaboratively and naturally learned and discovered each other's interests, talents and aspirations.
Though there were a number of inhibitions in our minds, with directorial efficiency of our play Director a permissive atmosphere was created among the childre. It helped us to carve a niche for the deprived lot in our hearts. In this rpocess, we could develop and share a closer rapport with each other.
Now I wonder why the children of slums have been neglected and considred inferior. Like us they too have the same world of dreams, aspirations and talents. What they need is an attitude of democratic acceptance, warmth and opportunity. Wuth everything so skillfully performed, it is only natural that every participant felt perfectly, enlightened with the spirit of service, love and respect which ensures a healthier, harmonious and happier society.
DEEPALAYA FORMAL SCHOOL AN INTROSPECTION
The school is a cradle where childrenare introduced to act with understanding, where behavioural pattern and knowledge are integrated and reflected in their actions. It is the school which in course of time moulds their attitudes, interests, likes and dislikes towards individuals, society, issues and problems they are likely to face in their life.
Deepalaya school is an unique illustration of Deepalaya's effort to reach the unreached. Today Deepalaya runs its own schools at Sanjay Colony and Khirki Village.
From a modest number of five children in the beginning, when Deepalaya school was housed in a drawing room of a Chittaranjan Park, it now educates nearly 1100 children in the age group of 3 years to 14 years and is located within the Okhla Industrial Belt. The second Ramdittin JR Narang Deepalaya School which is relatively new, is also reaching out to 200 children in the age group of 3 years to 8 years enrolled in two classes each of U.K.G and L.K.G.
Deepalaya school follows education of a comparable standard and follows guide lines of minimum level of learning, which lays focus on equity and removing the existing disparities. The NCERT curriculum is followed and the teaching is designed keeping in view the developmental needs of children from deprived sections.
The school has a committed band of qualified teachers, who always follow methods of teaching and learning in a participative approach. Teaching methodology is specially designed keeping in mind that most of the children have no support for learning at home as parents are not literate in many cases and who are consequently have complete dependence on school. Thus teachers try their level best to help these children acquire basic competencies and skills by which they can pursue studies to higher levels.
The school help these children to imbibe qualities of punctuality, cleanliness, sense of responsibility, national identity through class room education as well as co-curricular activities.
Deepalaya school also has a special unit for handicapped children, where through love and care these children are being trained to join the main stream education. In fact some of these children have successfully overcome their disabilities and have entered the threshold of mainstream education.
There is need for more such schools of this kind which would perhaps improve the literacy records when our country has the dubious distinction of having 50 million children for who "schooling" remains an elusive dream.