Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Nature camp at Samagodu School which made me redefine Giving back

This nature camp was conducted in the Samagodu school (One of the YFS adopted schools) in Hosanagara taluk with the intention to bring the awareness about the conservation and wildlife in the kids and also we thought the kids can relate it very well as they live close to the nature and also they can appreciate what is around them. 

This time I reached out to a team called Naturalist By Choice (NBC) who are experts in this field, have already conducted many nature camps in different schools.And they happily agreed to conduct the camp at Samagodu School. We planned for bunch of activities related to conservation. 

This time I couldn't go to school and interact with kids to prepare them for the event. I was just having some discussions with teachers over the phone once in a while on the activities and how kids can participate etc. Since the kids are from very remote place and they hardly have any exposure, we had assumed that they may not open up very well and they may shy out. But at the end they completely proved us wrong!

Total about 20 volunteers (NBC + Cisco Sambrama volunteers) were all set to go and conduct the camp.
When we reached the school , the kids were eagerly waiting to welcome us with the natural bouquets which they had prepared for us.They sang and welcomed us. This was the first surprise for me :)
Kids welcoming us with bouquets which they had prepared

Then we had the first activity for kids which was drawing competition for the kids from 1st to 3rd std based on the theme Wild life and conservation. Kids were so involved and did an awesome job.
Drawing Competition

We had Poster making for 4th and 5th std kids which again was related to conservation. We had assigned each volunteers to help the kids think out of the box. But you believe it or not kids hardly gave any chance to the volunteers to help them out. They had much more ideas than us and again I was stunned to see these kids involvement in this activity.

Poster Making
Next we had the Charcoal sketching session on conservation by an amazing Charcoal sketch artist Mr.Prasad. The kids were amazed looking at the drawing and when they were asked to explain the conservation message of the drawing, before we could give any hint ,kids started explaining about the sketch and the message which it was trying to convey and made us stunned !

Charcoal sketching by Mr.Prasad
We also had the workshop for kids by teaching kids on basics to sketch and make drawing a means to express their passion which was well received by kids and they all enjoyed drawing the sketch which Mr.Prasad taught them.

Sketching workshop for kids

After lunch we had role play by kids where in kids showcased small role plays on conservations which again was unbelievable.

Kids Role play on stories related to conservation

Then we had the Interesting and wonderful Sessions conducted by experts from team NBC on:

Personal hygiene and its importance for all : Kids response were so good and the kind of questions which they asked during this session impressed the Doctor who had come along with us to give this session. Even parents did participate well in this session.

Birds as natures companions and birding as a hobby : Kids received this very well and I am sure it brought them different perspective and curiosity about the birding.

Butterflies and its ecological importance : They were so excited to know more about these tiny beauties.

Snakes and the need to co-exist : We were thinking that they would get scared about the snakes and may not respond well. But believe it or not they did know much more than us and their responses made all of us spell bound!

Interesting session on birds,butterflies and snakes

Apart from this our Dharmendra engaged the kids in various creative games and made them think out of the box in all those games. Kids had lot of fun playing them and singing with Dharmendra :)

Dharmendra engaging the kids in various activities

​After all our activities they took us on school tour and I am sure all the volunteers who had come had something to learn from these kids and they all stunned looking at the creative ideas which they have implemented in the school.

School tour by kids

​Now it was time to showcase their cultural talent. Almost all the volunteers were tired by then. But kids were so enthusiastic to showcase their talent. The  performance started and went about 2 hours. And only 24 kids performed 2 hrs continuously which included various events like Songs, Skit , Folk Dance to Gangnam style dance :) You believe it or not their energy level was so high that all the volunteers got back all the energy looking at their enthusiasm and couldn't stop cheering them for entire 2 hrs. Finally they ended their performance by the Skit which had the conservation message for all of us! 

Kids performing various cultural events.

Finally when we were about to leave in the night around 8.30 pm , each kid came and presented each of the volunteers with the gifts which they had prepared from the things which they have around them. I dint have any words to express my gratitude towards them!

Sample of the gifts which kids gave us

This was the most satisfied giving back I have ever had which had the equal participation and involvement both from kids and the volunteers. And the dedicated Teachers  (Deepa,Jyoti and Shurti ) and the School SDMC committee head Mr. Rajashekhar (The man of innovation) did show a lot of interest and had put their effort to make this event grand success and memorable one. 
Volunteers and teachers with kids

And also I feel very lucky to have parents who support me in all my passion and interest. They were more than happy to host all the 20 volunteers and they were back bone for me in planning the logistics. Felt awesome taking the volunteers to our home and getting them introduced to my parents and spending 2 days with them. 

PS: Thanks to Sandeep and Bhanu for wonderful pictures!

Monday, 3 March 2014

A school which is an inspiration for all of us and which makes us spellbound!

This school is in Hosanagara taluk, Samagodu village. The school is amidst nuture and  is about 1 km from the main road which connects Shimoga - Kollur. About 8km from Nagara and about 25 km from hosanagara town.

We (me and my dad) took a shortcut from my house (in KaraNagiri, Hosanagara taluk). We crossed the beautiful Sharavati backwater and rode about 7 kms in the forest to reach the school.

School kids were about to finish their classes and go back to home. When we went and told that we would like to know more about the school and some of things which they have done which we had heard from local people, they happily welcomed us. Kids were very enthusiastic to show us what they have done along with their teacher Jyoti who is a guest teacher there. Total there are 19 kids (1st to 5th std)  and 2 teachers (one of them was on leave).

They started with their garden!
They have made a 8 division in their garden. Each division is owned by a group of kids(2-3). and The group will be responsible for the plants of their respective division.
The plants include Vegetables, Fruits, Roses and other flowers, Medicinal plants and each plant has a name board and You believe it or not the Kids know the names of each plant and the medicinal value of each of them.
They took me around their garden and explained about each plant. I was stunned.
They use those vegetables/medicinal plants for their mid day meals

Then they took me to the next place where the borewell water is being used for the sprinklers in the garden.
Here is the interesting thing they have done.
They have connected the borewell to the seesaw through the rope. And whenever kids play, the borewell water will be pumped to a tank nearby. And one more pipe is connected to the sprinkler system through a cycle. Whenever kids do cycling, the water will be pumped from the tank and passed to the sprinkler system.
Isn't it simple and yet amazing thing!

Next they took me near to their sintex tank.
There was a huge funnel to the tank! Yes it was the old unused Dish which we used to have long back before these DTH and cable connection came.
They had done this to store the rain water in the tank.( heavy rain fall happen in western ghats and saving this rain water is one of the best ways of utilizing water) 

Next to that there was another dish, and a small cable wire covering the dish in multiple circles and which in tern connected to a tap. Yes they had done this to work like a simple solar heater! 

Next they took me to their open air auditorium! The entire stage was covered by the plants. The "AvarekaLu" which was grown there was used for their mid day meals. and hear and their I saw small wires tied from on plant to other plant. When I asked what is that, they told me that they hang their library books on those wires in the evenings or during their study hour. So that they can pick up the books they want and read it amidst nature! 

Next they took me to show their waste management system.
These kids know better than us! They do waste management better than what we do (i doubt if we are doing :P ) here.
Some of the unused vehicle tires they have collected from near by villages and made a dustbin out of that to put the waste. And they have separate place for plastic waste and organic waste.

Next they showed me their  "Malnad Mane". This is a small shelter kind of a thing made of bamboo and the dead arecanut plant stem (we call dabbe in kannada).Which had shelf as well
The local people have donated their ancient antiques which they used to use olden days.
This will make the kids learn the history better by seeing those things also in this way they can preserve these beautiful things for the future.

All the dead plant stems and bamboos they have collected from the forests and they have used like a pot to plant the different medicinal plants. Here is a small look how they have decorated through that. 

Also they have used the tubes and connected to small pipes to form a drip irrigation.They have made multiple "Ingu Gundi" (water sinking pits for rain water harvesting) as well

And also they have used those paper plates , paper glasses and some of the stuff from the farm in their classes for day to day learning!

Couple of kids walk 8km in the deep forest to come to the school everyday and rest of them walk 4-5km everyday. Even the teachers come from 20 km far ( you know how the bus frequency here in remote places) . These amazing 19 kids made my day today!

In this today's speedy world where people are busy in preparing their kids for mechanical life, I feel this school teaches a lot of lesson! Simplicity, Creativity , Awareness what not.
This school is motivation for rest of the schools and also all of us.
This wouldn't have happened without the teacher's interest. They are putting their heart and soul into the school. Also amazing school committee and parents support and help. Feeling very proud of them! 

Came back with lot of lessons and thoughts!