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Smiles indeed for children in need

Newsletter May to December 2016

Efforts on collective community strength

The work in the communities has been gaining pace with a dedicated team, towards building a collective community strength to understand and respond on the issues of working class. There have been efforts to have collective meetings at basti level and over 10-11 bastis. There have been talks over on what issues or problems of basti people come together to understand and get to realize the strength of collectives, read articles on poverty following discussions and came to know that reason of poverty is external, not internal. Sangita said, " We produce wheat and still dying from hunger, we are poor because of the conflicts of our panchayat and political parties" and Tanuja says,"Rich people don't let poor come forward and suppress them on basis of caste, color, creed".Campaign on violence held in 6 different basti naming Gautam Nagar, Rajeev Nagar, Baghmugaliya, Banjari, Shabri Nagar and Gandhi Nagar.During this campaign, we discussed what violence is, what kind of violence do we see every day around our locality and what might be the cause of this violence, from where is it coming. And also how does it transfer from one person/community/ society to other person/ community/ society, how does it take political face at the end.
Multilingual Education
We have been experimenting in classrooms over four settings to use children's first languages (tribal languages) for learning a foreign language. Lesson plans were developed around concepts of question words; children engaged with different sentences, written and spoken, to decipher what kind of answers does a specific question word imply (so 'where' for a position or place). We also learned to go gradually into drawing a concept from the first language and then trying to transfer this concept to the second (Hindi) and third language (English). It was also intriguing and engrossing to draw out the rules for the use of 'who' in Gondi. 
Struggle for filing POCSO Act against a school warden
In November, we got the complaint by parents from Gandhi Nagar that their children had been assaulted by the warden of a government school situated nearby. They said that Ajay Sharma (the warden) not only beats and punishes children but also harass them sexually by touching their private parts on the pretext of applying medicinal ointment for their infection. Once this was revealed, around 25 children opened up with detailed narratives of these shocking incidents. They said that the warden used to beat them for silly matters like when he was not around he used to make one child write the names of children who talks in class on the classroom board, and then in the night he used to punish children by undressing them, throw cold water while they slept in bed, make them stand under fan in cold winters and also beats them up with anything that comes in his hand at that moment. After all this, he kept them naked, abused, touched their private part, clicked their photos and made videos and showed it to his other colleagues and made fun of it.
Initially, parents of these children also went to the DPC(district program manager) to file the case against him but nothing happened. Geeta and Anjum who are working in Gandhinagar when came to know about this they called childline, they came and talked to inflicted children and their guardians but Childline didn't respond rather they insisted on reconciliation and told parents to let children go back to the hostel assuring that this won’t happen again. After then we (Anjum, Neelam, Saba, Maheen, Geeta, Suman, Fareeda for photo and video shoot) went to Police station on different days along with the parents, again they met with disappointment only. Press was called by the alliance of all organizations that are working on child rights for the conference to talk on this issue to build pressure on the police department to file FIR and put POCSO on it. Next day, many newspapers covered this—after this police transferred this case to the concerned SC/ST police station where FIR under JJ act was filed which is for beating children brutally but POCSO still was not applied which deals with child sexual abuse/violence /harassment.  After many investigations comprising of many interrogations with children, witnesses, statements of Anjum, Neelam, Saba and Maheen 9/10 11/12 sections has been laid on Ajay Sharma. We are pushing it forward so section 13 could also be applied to him and get him arrested.
Youth's Theater Workshop
Three workshops have been held over a period from May to August in Muskaan’s residential hostel in Gandhi Nagar. In this workshop, 30-35 youth of Pardhi community which is actually a marginalized community which is presently based in Ehsan Nagar were present where they got to learn about history of their community and its real existence in present day. This was a workshop to connect those who didn't even see each other while living in the same colony/place and also helped youth to develop an understanding regarding problems faced by their society after implementation of forest laws. In morning session we discuss on different subjects or issues and try to develop a common understanding and in the evening session we used play a skit.
Above play was displayed in Rajiv Nagar, Ehsaan Nagar and Gandhi Nagar basti’s.
Jasveer : “In the beginning I was afraid whether I can perform or not on front of my father. But later on I enjoyed a lot”
Priya: “I was the only girl in this group, initially I was not comfortable but later on with the help of didi (Anubhuti), I gel up with the boys”.
This play was little different in sense that it was  played in Pardhi language which is youth’s first language...even the song in this play was in Pardhi which got so popular among the people of this community.
Classroom Experiences
In an activity, only a name is given: “Sudeep” and asked what does it mean ...everyone said Sudeep is a name and nothing more could be understood by this. Then a girl Rotisna made a sentence in her language (Pardhi) “Sudeep inwa gayo je” ( Sudeep went for rag picking). The children explained how in Pardhi language, noun(name) comes first followed by name of a thing related to the work and then the verb is placed. Like this, we tried to give them some sentences in English and identified the structure of the sentence and got them to write sentences from their language in English.
Workshop on Municipal Administration
4 days workshop held on Municipal Administration in November by Mahesh, Deepak and Chandni to make an understanding of the structure of government departments, its hierarchy and know which department to reach when some sort of problem arises in
basti (communities) so it could be solved soon.  Around 25 youth from 6 basti’s naming surat nagar, Sewaniyan Gond, Berkheri Khurd, Rajeev Nagar, Shyam Nagar, Beelkheda. Youth also visited different governmental departments electricity office, ward office and SDM office. During the session, youth listed problems that frequently arises in basti’s  as difficulty in getting ration cards, safe drinking water, sewer, garbage etc.  Some youth after this workshop shared their views as
“Now we got to know why they (government employees) always ask us to go from one office to the other”
“When I will go to my village I will tell my  elders where to go for which kind of problem ” 
Inter basti youth meeting
27-28 youth participated in this meeting from Baghmugaliya and Shyam nagar to talk on the original infrastructure of basti’s what it has and doesn’t has and what it has in common. During discussion 3 different groups were made  to draw the picture of basti’s and give presentations over it. Towards the end, youth realized that whether the basti’s are similar or not in anyway but their problems are almost the same so they all from different basti’s need to come together and help each other to solve the problems.
Workshop on superstition(1-5 December)
There is so much belief on superstition and black magic in communities that people never hesitate on giving money or anything which is been asked by those fraud monks because they believe that some god comes on these monks, hence they have the power to treat any kind disease or guide people through their lives, shoo away the ghost.
Through this workshop in which around 70 people came from all communities, an attempt was made to be aware people of such things and to see these are some strategies for political profits. This workshop was taken by a Maharashtra based  group named “Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti” in which they showed all such magic (which is usually shown by the monks) by using some chemicals and special things used in magic, they also went to ganga Nagar basti to investigate the whole facts regarding magic in this basti and convey to the people. After this, most of the youth were convinced that no such magic happens, its all lie but some adults didn’t seem so positive as it was against their belief and it was hard for them to accept the this fact. Punjab singh from Ehsan nagar said ” All such monks make us fool, we know they use chemicals” ..
Shekhar from Rajeev nagar —” Trishul (a holy stick)sticks to the bottom of a closed vessel because air vacuum creates inside”
During this workshop
A discussion held on discrimination they (Pardhi) faced in government schools while their schooling. Some said in school also i.e. besides police  they were in impression  that they used to stole something and sometimes teachers called them thief which made them quit school and hence quit studying.
Some sharing are here:
Raj :“When I was in a school we were 15 children belonging to pardhi society. School management gives us totally separate room to sit because we belong to this community. This kind of discrimination makes us very uncomfortable, that’s why I left school.”
Poster Making
From 26-7-2016 to 28-7-2016, three days poster making workshop was organized in the direction of Manoj Kulkarni. In this there were total 60 participants belonging to nine bastiis. In this session importance of poster making why it is necessary to make posters, what object can be achieved through this , all such questions were discussed in detail.Youth came to the conclusion that poster making attract people in visual form also. With the help of posters an illiterate man can also understand with the help of picture one of the youth said informative posters contained more words in comparison to awareness posters which contained less words.Youth discussed their problems related to basti’s and accordingly decided what kind of posters they want to make on the basis of awareness or information. Then as per their basti needs they made posters.
Different Sessions has been conducted on menstrual cycle and sexuality with around 150 girls and boys from all the basti’s at different times in April, November and December. Sessions held separately for girls ran by Saba and Geeta and boys by Pallav,Mahesh and Brajesh so that participants feel comfortable while sharing. When the sessions started it was seen that there was hesitation and huge curiosity among both girls and boys. We discussion about why menstruation comes to girls, what is its significant and how do we see it in our lives. On this Gadar said “when my mother cook food during menses we used to eat but our father refused because they believe in following traditions. This habit of my father is not good. I make sure not to do this with my wife ” and Akshay said “we did so much injustice with our family members but from now onwards I will take care of this. ”
In next topics we discussed about sex by showing different pictures like two pairs kissing each other, hugging each other and doing other activities. We discussed we should respect the way of different love making as it is matter of personal interest. In this discussion we also included topics like homosexuality and transgender concept. During this workshop we came to know that for youth it was very difficult to acquire knowledge regarding sex in educated manner, they used to watch some video and clippings before and learnt and develop some risky way of having sex. As their age grows so as the desire of sex and to fulfill this desire they are ready to take risk for unsafe sex.  Here, they also got to know about safe sex, what are the precautions that could be taken. An assurance of confidentiality was given to these youth if they come with any kind of queries or concerns regarding sex and menstruation.
Children's Collective
Various meetings held on basti level with children’s group “Azad Jugnoo Club” for making an outline of further work to be done against child violence. In relation to this, children decided to do a survey in which they will try to understand from children’s point of view what is violence , how does it affects  the children and what steps could be taken to stop this violence in which they also prepared questionnaires that would be asked from children while surveying and also planned to share the outcomes of this survey to parents.
They all did the survey and shared among themselves. During this survey, they talked to 55 children of Rajeev Nagar. When they all gathered on 30 June, they shared all the data and how they collected the data. They said that “We should talk to parents and school teachers also to stop hitting children”. “Police also should not beat children for that adults should come forward. Sargam basti’s children said. Sanjana and Harshit suggested conducting a rally for awareness to protect the child from any violence.
  • All teachers sat together in guidance of Seema to make changes in existing Balwaadi’s curriculum to get more organized curriculum that would help teachers as well as children to follow. While preparing curriculum they talked on new ways of teaching Math's, doing physical exercises,  language development, imagination, sensitivity, creativity. Like for language development, we identified 3-4 poems that were already enjoyed by children in class..we picked them up and tried to take out some question out of those poems that would help children to guess the answers and learn fast. This curriculum was a result of combined efforts of all the Baalwadi teachers.
  • In these months, teachers worked with Anganwadi (ICDS) workers especially on the concept of creativity and imagination so the children would also sit at Anganwadi centers for a long time.
  • After introducing this curriculum in class, teachers shared some of their view and observations.
    Rekha(Rajeev Nagar Baalwadi teacher) said” While doing poems and related activities to the poem, so many concepts are being cleared ”
    Jyoti (Ganga
    nagar Baalwadi teacher) says ”By these methods or ways, children are sitting for longer period and they are recognizing the sequence of numbers easily”
    Suman (Gautam Nagar Baalwadi 
    teacher): “ Children takes interest and participate in the activities now”.
A make-believe fair for Baalwadi children of Berkheri Khurd was organized in which children made some corners where they sold their hand made drawings, imaginary food and clothes. For this children used artificial notes (money) and called Adults/parents of basti to buy something from them and where children not only fix the prices for their stuff but also bargained for their stuffs, in this way they learned addition and subtraction.
Health Monitoring
Weight is monitored every month in which 4 children identified as malnourished and under weight. We met with their parents and talked about this and told what could be fed to these kids so they gain weight fast and what are the ways to stay healthy, these children were also referred to nutrition rehabilitation center and got admitted there. 3 of these 4 children recovered and came back to normal weight. They were 2 children from Gautam Nagar , 1 from Rajeev Nagar, 1 from Gandhi nagar.
Several exposure and capacity building workshops have helped in opening horizons and expanding skills for different team members. Shivani participated in a workshop on the concept of 'restorative justice'. Applying the concept of 'Restorative justice' is a way of life, but more than that, it is a way of allowing the victim of any crime and the perpetrator to heal. The resource person, Ted and Jean, demonstrated 'conferences' wherein all the people affected by a 'crime' come on the same platform and show their emotions. While there is no justification for a crime, there is a need to move on from it. The criminal justice system further victimizes and isolates the victim, and demonizes the perpetrator. The tribal system of justice usually involved the concerned parties to sit together and ended with a (reconciliation) party. While this has gotten distorted over the decades, communities did have alternative justice systems to the present judiciary.
Group of 14 women went to the ward representative office and complaint in written regarding construction of more rooms in school for their children to study. Gandhi Nagar is a big area where there is only one primary school of 3 rooms in which 168 children study from grade 1 to 5.
In Gandhi Nagar women group along with youth involved in the full 
process of organizing rally. They invite the Sarpanch (head) of their community to participate in the rally. It was an indirect process to pressurize the community and sarpanch to take some actions to minimize any form of violence on Women. In this rally People from Gaurvi organization (works on women’s issues) also came to inform the legal issue related to women’s violence. Women group also visited  Gaurvi. 
School Building for children
As it must be known by all of us that the construction of school building at Neelbad is made up of mud bricks that would give affinity to children and is eco-friendly also. You probably would love to hear that it 3/4 of its construction is done and expected to complete in next 3-4 months ifpace of work remains as such and no hurdle comes in between. Also, a short movie on this school has been completed. Please click on the youtube button at the bottom of this page. 
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Muskaan · Bhopal · Bhopal 462001 · India

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