New Delhi - April - June 2001
Gandhi In Kalkaji
There he was, on stage: Mahatma Gandhi, together with other Indian independence fighters. They delivered speeches to hundreds of children, dozens of parents and some VIP visitors at the Deepalaya School in Kalkaji Extension (South Delhi). The Gandhi performance was part of the school's Annual Day celebration on Friday 11 May. In the
auditorium, there was a performance full of dances, songs and speeches.
The main guest of the celebration, Opposition Leader of the Delhi Assembly Dr. Jagdish Mukhi, delivered a speech acknowledging the efforts Deepalaya has made in the field of education. He handed over the Best Student Awards and the Puzhakan's Award. Best overall performer of grade VIII was Amit Debmath.
Principal Visits Oxford
Ms Shikha Pal, principal of the Deepalaya School in Kalkaji Extension (South Delhi) has visited the Larkrise First School in Oxford, England. During her one-week visit in May she interacted with teachers and students to share experiences, teaching aids and methodologies.
The Larkrise School, having many students of South Asian origin, wanted to establish partnerships with schools in India and Pakistan. Deepalaya is the institution they linked up with in Delhi. Children and teachers from both schools have been in touch through e-mail since September 2000. In February this year, the head teacher from Larkrise visited the Deepalaya School. He brought with him drawings and letters from his students, along with many gifts. Shikha on her turn brought back ten sponsorships from England and loads of good wishes. The exchange programme has been made possible with the financial assistance of the British Council in the UK.
Japan Supports Technical Tnstitute
The Embassy of Japan, under its programme Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects, has extended its grant assistance with an amount of 95,053 US dollars. With this support, Deepalaya will build a double storey building for technical training of street and working children at the project site in Gusbethi (in Delhi's neighbouring state of Haryana). The foundation stone for the Technical Institute was laid on 19 May.
The Technical Institute is aimed at the street and working children (at the moment all boys) who have chosen to quit their old life style on the streets of Delhi and get educated by Deepalaya. For this purpose, Deepalaya has developed an extensive project in the middle of the Haryana countryside, some 60 kilometers from Delhi. The vocational training at the technical Institute will create better career opportunities for the children.
The foundation stone laying ceremony in Gusbethi took place on 19 May 2001. Present at the occasion were Mr. Kazuo Kodama (minister at the Embassy of Japan), Mr. Takuya Yoshida, (first secretary at the Embassy of Japan), Mr. Hans Jurgen Mehlig (second secretary for Economic Cooperation at the German Embassy), Mr. S.A.Khan (chairman of the Mewat Development Agency), the subdivisional magistrate, district officials and village heads. Mr. Kodama explained why his Embassy had decided to support Deepalaya. He said that he had noticed many children in Delhi who live and work on the streets. "There are three options to deal with this problem. The first is to ignore it. The second option is to give some rupees to the children. Both these options do not solve the problem. The third option is to equip the children so that they're able to build a future for themselves. That's exactly what Deepalaya is doing in its projects. That's why the Government of Japan has decided to fund this Technical Institute."
Mr. Kodama of the Japanese Embassy reveils the foundation stone for the Technical Institute
Interaction with other schools has always been an important opportunity for Deepalaya, especially with Delhi based public schools and international schools. The interaction will strengthen the mutual understanding between the privileged and underprivileged.
On Wednesday 31 January, grade VI students from the American Embassy School visited their counterparts at two Deepalaya schools in South Delhi. On Friday 2 March, grade VI-VIII students from Deepalaya visited the American school in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri (New Delhi). On both occasions, the children performed on stage and interacted with each other in games.
On Wednesday 7 March 2001, children from the American Embassy Elementary School visited Sanjay Colony School. "It helps our students to understand realities of poverty in India. Hopefully it also encourages them to find ways to make a difference", says Ms Karen Paul who is teacher-counselor at the American school. The Americans donated schoolbooks, stationary and other materials to Deepalaya School. Deepalaya has also been receiving regular donation of workbooks, exercise books and storybooks & old newspapers from Mira Model School in Janakpuri (West Delhi)
Disability Camp brings out 54 cases
On 29 April Deepalaya has organized a Disability Identification Camp in V.P. Singh Camp (South Delhi). Between 12 and 4 PM, the medical specialists present at the camp registered 54 cases of differently abled persons. The majority of them were children.
Deepalaya staff had made five stalls: one for registration, one for the hearing impaired, one for mentally challenged children, one for physically challenged children and one for epilepsy and general pediatric check-up. Present at the camp were specialists from different institutes. Together, they identified 54 cases.
The specialists issued disability certificates to mentally challenged children and counseled their parents, toke measurements for aids and appliances, did hearing tests and referred people to medical institutions for free hearing aids and medical intervention. The community gave good response to the camp.
Cricket involves youth
Deepalaya has been working in the relocated slums Sector 15-A and 16-A in Dwarka (West Delhi) for the last 16 months. The objective of this project is to improve the demand and access to health services, with a main focus on reproductive health. Various activities have already been organized to build rapport with the community. One such instance was a cricket match for adolescent boys.
The match took place on 16 May 2001. The two teams were the Badshah Group of Sector 15-A and a youth group from Shakurpur (North-West Delhi). Despite the spirited performance by the Shakurpur boys, the Badshah group won.
Through this match, Deepalaya could make its footing stronger among the youth to explain to them our project and initiate a process of sharing. The match also provided Deepalaya an opportunity to initiate exercises involving personality development, communication skills, leadership and team spirit and also gave a base to identify prospective peer educators for the project.
Deepalaya buys CNG van
A recent Supreme Court order bans diesel run vehicles in Delhi and makes the use of CNG (compressed natural gas) obligatory. Because of this, Deepalaya can not use her existing school bus anymore. This affects the children who live 6 to 10 kilometers away from our school and travel by school bus. In the best interest of the children, Deepalaya has decided to buy a CNG van. The German Embassy and the French organization ADFE have enabled Deepalaya to make this purchase.
Two foreign volunteers have recently joined Deepalaya. Since January, Dutch volunteer Frenck van Orsouw is working at the Communication & Fundraising Department at Deepalaya's head office in Janakpuri (West Delhi). Since February, the French volunteer Marie Revoux is working at the Gole Kuan project (South Delhi) to assist in the education of working children.
Kids bag prizes
Seven children of Deepalaya School Sanjay Colony (South Delhi) have won prizes in a drawing competition on 7 May. The competition was organized by the NGO Nehru Bal Samiti. Deepalaya was the only school bagging so many prizes.
Children make skit on TV
On 28 May, children of Deepalaya School Kalkaji Extension in South Delhi presented a skit entitled "TV Ka Bhoot Bachon Ke Roop" (something like "TV is an omnipresent ghost for children"). Chief guest at the gathering was Ms Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting. The play was part of a project called 'Augmenting Children's Right to Broadcasting'.
UNICEF has funded the project and the Delhi based NGO Centre for Advocacy & Research (CFAR) organized it. The CFAR team spent about a month interacting with a group of Deepalaya students. Together, they viewed good and bad programmes and discussed their views about television. The outcome of the discussions was the idea of a play. Professionals from the National School for Drama helped the students in preparing it.
Ball at Hyatt raises 2 lakhs
It is a hot evening on Friday 11 May. Desert winds are blowing in Delhi and the temperature rises well above 40 degrees. But inside the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel, it is cool. In the air-conditioned Ballroom, some 240 people are gathering for a special event: the annual ADFE Fundraising Ball. This year, Deepalaya is the lucky one: around 2 lakh (200,000 rupees) has been raised! The money is used to purchase a new van.
ADFE is an organization that works for French people living abroad. President of ADFE Northern India is Ms Anne Billard. She has visited Deepalaya projects and is truly impressed by their impact. "That's why we thought it was a good idea to donate the proceeds of this year's evening to Deepalaya," she explains.
From 8 PM till after midnight, the guests from many countries enjoyed themselves with dancing, eating and talking. After the cocktail, seven girls from the Deepalaya School Kalkaji Extension (South Delhi) performed. It was deadly quiet when they danced their Dance of Light in the darkened Ballroom. The applause afterwards thundered. This successful evening was sponsored by the Hyatt, the French Embassy, Air France, Gaz de France, Bio Mérieux India, the Imperial Hotel, McDowell & Co, Suez, Neemrana Hotels, Himalayan River Runners, Flavours of Italy, Nestlé India, Alcatel, Ravissant, Raj Creations, Sofema and Charms Cards.
No more teasing
"She looks so pretty," repeats Ms Ethel Lowen again and again. The pretty girl is Durga, a student of class II at Deepalaya School in Sanjay Colony (South Delhi). Durga used to be cross-eyed, but thanks to Ms Lowen, she has been operated last May. She now faces the future with confidence.
Ethel Lowen spotted Durga on a trip to Deepalaya School in January this year. She knew the problems the child would have to face because she was also born cross-eyed. "Apart from the difficulty in focussing, I found the teasing of my siblings and classmates unbearable. I knew that Durga would face a miserable childhood." Today Durga is a very happy person. "My brothers have stopped teasing me. I enjoy being with my friends now!"
Become a sponsor That is very easy: just call us or send an e-mail. See Colophon for more details. An annual sponsorship for one child is Rs 4,000 within India and Rs 4,500 / $ 100 outside India. A perpetual sponsorship is Rs 40,000 / $ 1,000. This takes care of a child's needs forever. General donations of any amount are also welcome!
New greeting cards From August onwards, the new Deepalaya greeting cards will be on sale. You can choose from more than 40 designs by prominent Indian artists, including designs for Diwali and Christmas. They are only 6 rupees each (discounts are possible for bulk orders)! Call or e-mail us to get a catalogue.
Let's Go to School!
Deepalaya East Delhi Project organized a special drive between March and May to admit children who are not enrolled with any school. The drive called "School Chalo!" (Hindi for "Let's go to school!"), was organized in collaboration with the funding partner HPS Foundation. The programme covered all the twelve project locations in East Delhi.
The drive started with a survey to identify children in the age group 5 to 11 years. Deepalaya social workers made house to house visits, organized meetings in the community, held counseling sessions for parents and helped the community with preparing birth certificates that are essential for school admission. Towards the last week of March Deepalaya staff organized a series of programmes at the community level, which included rallies, street theatre and wall writings.
On the whole the programme reached out to a population of 16,500. The survey indicated 687 children in the age group 5 to 11 years that did not go to any school. Deepalaya will make efforts to enroll as many of these children as possible.
In the concluding "School Chalo Abhiyan", a march to the municipal school, some 500 community members participated. Mr.Vinod Khanna of the HPS Foundation addressed them. Both he and other speakers underlined the need for education, documents required for admission and procedures followed for school admission and fee structure. After that, Deepalaya's theatre group Abhinay Samuh staged a play on illiteracy.
To the editor
"My association with Deepalaya started about a year back. Since then it has been a pleasant discovery for me. A couple of months back, I had the opportunity of visiting Deepalaya schools which ended up leaving an indelible impression on me. Guided by friendly Deepalaya people, we were taken around. What we saw was a concerted, dedicated effort towards creating an educated, more socially and economically apt society of tomorrow.
As our association with Deepalaya grew, we had a chance to visit one of Deepalaya's workshops on 'Women's Health' organized in a slum cluster in Delhi. The patience and effort with which Deepalaya workers persuaded the slum women to attend the workshops and the confidence these workshops bring about in underprivileged women is laudable.
I have found Deepalaya to be dedicated and professional in its aim of bringing about social transformation through education. I wish you all the best!"