Thursday, 30 August 2012

Reality Gives supporters...The books of the 5th grade of the Cambridge Primary School in Australia

English teacher Kavita shows the students of the 2nd grade a Kangaroo called Joey. The story also contains a dingo - both very alien but interesting animals for the Dharavi kids!

In March 2012 the primary school teacher Kelly Hardy from Melbourne Australia posted the following on the Reality Gives facebook wall:

"My parents, are booked to come on a tour with one of your guides, David Jones on 3/06/2012. I am a teacher at a primary school in Melbourne, Australia and the students would like to do something for a school in Mumbai or the NGO's kindergarten. We were going to do a school fundraiser and my parents were going to bring the money with them to Mumbai however I have read some other posts on your Facebook page that say that you only accept donations through Paypal. 

Could you let me know what other donations are needed for school or kindergartens? 

The students were thinking of making some books for the children to look at and perhaps that something that would be worthwhile?"

Sujata shows the 1st standard students how
wombats live in Australia
And her parents came and brought great books made by the kids of the 5th grade of the Cambridge Primary School in Melbourne. The books contain great self-made fiction and non-fiction stories on native animals to Australia like the kangaroo, the emu and wombat. 

Is it a bear? Or a mole? No it's a wombat!
The students of the 1st and 2nd grade of the English Language Program at the municipal Kala Killa school in Dharavi were a little bit confused learning about these strange animals. "That's a peacock" was one child shouting when he saw the emu on one of the pictures. The teachers who all are from Dharavi as well and who went through the one year long Muktangan training to learn the very modern child-centered teaching methods explained the young kids that these animals live in a very far country called Australia. 

Mujassum explains the other 2nd grade
group the emu
The students from Melbourne and their teacher Kelly Hardy now think about organizing a fundraiser for Reality Gives in the next year. We appreciate their support a lot and just love the cute books as much as the Kala Killa students love them. Thank you so much! 

Reality Gives stories #5...Our Dharavi Runners Neelam, Mohsina, Zaiba and Mayur

Last week we introduced you two the four Dharavi runners and YEP students Rakesh, Afsha, Sheeba and Anand. This week we introduce to some of the youngest students and enthusiastic runners Neelam, Mohsina and Zaiba plus our caretaker Mayur. 

Also Ashwini and Tushar who are two of the current YEP students and whom we presented in another blog article will join the Dharavi Dream Run Team. We are so happy to have so many dedicated students who enjoy to be a part of Reality Gives. 

Eight of our Dharavi runners are already sponsored by our very generous supporters. Find out how you can sponsor our remaining enthusiastic participants from Dharavi including the YEP students we will introduce below on our website.

Neelam (17)

Neelam studies for her BCom and Guru Nanak Junior College in Dadar. She spends her mornings in lectures and comes to the YEP in the afternoons. She has no difficulty understanding English but lacks confidence when it comes to speaking. She would like to become a bank manager in the future. Neelam is creative and makes greetings cards for her friends and family in her spare time. 

Mohsina (17)
Mohsina would like lots of opportunities to practise her spoken English! She has a good understanding of English but she struggles to express herself. She hopes that the Youth Empowerment Program will really help her with this. She has passed the SSC and has since been doing a Mehndi (Henna) course. She loves to create beautiful designs and practices frequently at home. In the future she would like to take a tailoring course and she would ultimately like to have her own tailoring or Mehndi business. 
She will definitely stay in Dharavi, she says. 

Zaiba (19)

Zaiba is Sheeba's younger sister. She came to the YEP to improve her English and computer skills after completing the HSC in commerce and a tailoring course in Dharavi, both at the same time. Zaiba hopes to enroll on a telecommunications course at Bhavans College soon. She is a talented painter and wanted to become a graphic designer but her parents would prefer her to find a job in computing. 

Mayur (18)

It didn't really surprise us when Mayur said he wants to run the Half Marathon of 21km. Mayur is our non-stop caretaker of the Reception Centre, who never seems to spend more than 5 minutes in one place. He is the youngest member of staff, and also the most busiest, with a job description that can be described as 'varied'. Most of the evenings you will still find him at the Reception Center's computer to learn how to use photoshop. When he does have free time or for a chance takes it, no big surprise he likes to play some cricket and since some months also Aussie football, and in the future, he wants to be a software engineer. He was born in Mumbai and stays in Kumbharwada, the pottery area, with his family, originally from Gujurat. Without Mayur Reality Gives and Reality Tours and Travel would loose one of its most important members! Unfortunately we couldn't fullfill his wish to run the Half Marathon since he has no timing certificate. But he is also happy to represent Dharavi in the Dream Run Team.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Reality Gives stories #4...Our Dharavi Runners Rakesh, Afsha, Sheeba and Anand

Some weeks ago we already introduced you to our Dharavi Runners and football girls Pooja and Mansi as well as Mahalakshmi and Christeena. Now we would like to unveil the rest of the team. 

Eight of our Dharavi runners are already sponsored by our very generous supporters. Find out how you can sponsor our remaining enthusiastic participants from Dharavi including the YEP students we will introduce below on our website.

Rakesh (18)

Rakesh is a student on the Youth Empowerment Program for the second time! He really enjoyed it the first time but he felt that he could use some extra practice so he is back for more. He has just taken the SCC but need to clear three more subjects: Hindi, Marathi and Science. Rakesh loves music  and dance and would like to be a professional choreographer or dance teacher when he is older.

Afsha (18)

Afsha has just completed her HSC in Commerce. She joined the YEP because she wanted to learn more about computing. Afsha is very creative and she would loek to become a fashion designer, designing ladies' clothes. She is currently searching for a suitable course in Mumbai and plans to apply once she has completed the YEP course. She finds the English Language on the YEP course quite easy but shewould like to improve her speaking skills and feels thats this is a really important opportunity. 

Sheeba (22)

Sheeba joined the YEP together with her sister Zaiba. She is a Bachelor of Commerce graduate and would ultimately like an accounting job in a bank. Her parents will let her fo whatever makes her happy but her older brother doesn't approve of her career choice. In her free time Sheeba enjoys reading English storybooks and teaching small children in the Community Center of Reality Gives. She provides the tuition classes to a group of local children in English grammar, song and poems. 

Anand (23)

Anand is our head coach of the Dharavi Girls Football Program. Originally from Jharkhand in North East India he joined the football program of our partner organisation Yuwa three years back right at the start. He is passionate about providing opportunities for girls through football and believes you can empower them and work with them to prevent forced early marriages and dropping out of school. He is an experienced football player and coach and would like to continue to work with girls teams in the future. He joined the YEP to improve his English skills, particularly his speaking fluency and accuracy to also speak to the Yuwa founder Franz in his mother tongue. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Reality Tours and Travel News...Students Welcome!

Krishan with the students in the school bus after the tour
The students of the Cumballa Hill School in Malabar Hill didn’t know what to expect from a tour through Dharavi. “Usually we take our students to malls, the beach or in museums. But we never took them to a place like this although they can learn so much from the Dharavi community”, says the 4th standard teacher Mrs Preeti.
Krishna explains the recycling process 
of plastic wats
The tour leads through 
narrow allies
During the week of August 13th 250 students from the 4th to the 7th grade of the Cumballa Hill School participated in the 2.5hrs walking tour through the industrial and residential areas of Dharavi of Reality Tours and Travel. They learned about the vibrant industry that powers Dharavi including the recycling, leather and pottery industries as well as about sanitation, water and social issues.

Kids make notes during the educational tour
Reality Tours and Travel started the "Students Welcome"-campaign to invite high school and college students to Dharavi to educate them about the challenges, issues as well as the potential and opportunities of one of Asia’s biggest slums in the heart of Mumbai. We hosted already tours for the students of the American School of Bombay, Dhirubhai  Ambani International School, Oberoi International School and Ecole Mondiale.
Guides Chetan explains the recycling process of Veg Oil Cans

The girls of the 4th grade on the roof top of a factory
“The people in Dharavi work so hard in so difficult conditions – we should actually salute them” said one of the students from the 5th standard on Monday during the tour. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Reality Gives Volunteers... Rose and the football girls

Rose has been volunteering with Reality Gives for around two months to research for a project about empowerment through sports. This is her story, telling also the current happenings in the Dharavi Girls Football Program:

When the Dharavi girls’ football team took to the field for their daily practice earlier this week, two of the players hauled a giant bag in between them. The other girls sprinted ahead to the designated practice area, some bouncing up and down with excitement once they reached their destination. I met them there, curious about the reason for the extra enthusiasm today. 

It was Mahalaxmi who answered my question before I had asked it. Grinning broadly, she nodded to the large bag she was helping to carry: “SHOES!”

The next forty minutes or so were spent sorting out sizes, passing out knee-length socks, undoing and redoing laces, and trying to convince the youngest girls that yes, cleated shoes are supposed to feel tight around their feet. The older girls were unanimously thrilled with the acquisition of true footballers’ gear, and immediately began dribbling, kicking, and passing with new fervor. The younger ones, accustomed to playing barefoot, were a more skeptical—they squirmed and made faces upon first feeling the sensation of athletic shoes. The practice turned out to be more of an introduction to football shoes than a real practice, but the girls left the field with the same joyful, chaotic energy with which they had arrived.

I’ve been attending the Dharavi girls’ practices about five times a week since I arrived in Mumbai on June 20th. And in fact, these girls are the very reason I came to Mumbai. I am a recent graduate of Hendrix College (Arkansas, USA), and I am conducting an independent project on the use of team sports to empower girls. My project is being funded by a grant called the Walker Odyssey Fellowship. Over the next six months, I will be meeting and volunteering with different organizations that specifically use sport as a foundation for girls’ development throughout India and Cambodia.

When I first encountered the Dharavi team, it was difficult to see beyond the obvious challenges that the group faces. The players are bold, curious, and occasionally unruly girls (plus two boys) ranging from ages 7 to 19. The Yuwa coaches, who have come all the way from their rural homes in Jharkhand to help found the Dharavi team, do a truly admirable job of leading exercises and drills every single day—but it can be challenging to channel the girls’ energy into a structured practice. Additionally, the monsoon has created an extra obstacle by turning their playing field into a wide expanse of muddy puddles. There’s not much open space, and practice matches are usually cramped.

As I got to know the girls, however, I’ve come to understand how significant this team really is for each of them. Before the team existed, the girls would stay in their houses (which usually consist of either one or two rooms) after school and help their mothers with the chores or watch television. They didn’t go out, many of them didn’t have a group of friends, and their parents didn’t like them to wander around the neighborhood for fear of them straying too far. The Dharavi team has created a safe space for these girls. It is an outlet in which they can run, play, have fun with their friends, and act as leaders during drills or stretches. It is something consistent that they can look forward to every day.

It is bittersweet for me to say goodbye to the team, but I’m grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to befriend such a welcoming and spirited group of kids. Each one of them is testament to the potential of sport to enrich and empower lives. I’m happy, too, that I was here to see the distribution of the shoes—I know that they’ll be put to good use, and I hope that the players’ mothers are forgiving of the mud that’s certain to cling to this new footwear. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Reality Gives Stories #3...Youth Empowerment Program Students

Ashwini (21)

Ashwini is married with a five month old son, Dhwaj. She joined the programme because she wanted to grow as a person and she'd like to be able to heach her children English. She has and HSC pass in Science and she wants to train to be a nurse in the future. Her ambition is to become a military nurse where she would have a good salray and a permanent job. It is important to her to be able to support her family finacially

Tushar (27)

Tushar worked in the billing department of an air conditioning company for six years. He left his job a year ago because he wanted to improve his English skills. He has lived with his family in Dharavi his whole life but he's planning to get a place of his own in the near future. He is really enjoying the programme, but he finds speaking English especially difficult. In the future, he would like to work in and office, or find another job that allows him to use English Language and computer skills. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Reality Gives Stories #2...Our football girls Mahalakshmi and Christeena

Mahalakshmi Sounderrajn (14)

Mahalakshmi is in 9th Standard. She joined the Dharavi team because she likes football and running. Although she had not playing football on a team before, she does play carrom board. She comes to practice every day. Her favorite drills include dribbling and heading. She would love to play a real match soon! At school, Mahalakshmi’s best subject is math. In her free time she likes to watch cartoon movies. In the future, she wants to work in a beauty parlor and visit America.

Christeena Jogan (19)

Christeena joined the Dharavi team because she loves playing football, and did not have a chance to play since she last played on her school’s team. Christeena played defense on her last team, and also played on her school tennis team. Her favorite drills now include heading and kicking. She makes sure she comes to practice everyday, because she gets bored otherwise! Christeena also enjoys dancing, carrom board, and Snakes and Ladders. She plans to marry very soon, but wants to keep playing football. Someday she would like to visit America.