So I was a volunteer to Pratham Books initiative for 100 readings across India on the World Literacy Day September 8th.
I spoke to Swaram, asking her if she could suggest and NGO in Bombay where I could read to a set of kids..I didnt want to do it in a library or a book store..dont ask me *rolls eyes*
Anyways, she was sweet enough to connect me to her contacts, but unfortunately things didnt work out from the guy’s end in Bombay, and Pratham books were sweet enough to suggest ‘Project Crayon’
So, I got in touch with them, and they were sweet enough to agree.
So I went there, with R and my office friend SDT in tow to click pictures..RD was caught up with some work and couldnt come, anyways, next time.
First – Thanks to both Project Crayon and Pratham Books.
Second – Maya of Pratham Books is an absolutely doll! I pestered her like 100 times since I didnt get the book on time, but she was patient every time, went out of her way to help me get the book and finally the courier didnt arrive and I got the address of distributor from her and then managed to get the book 🙂
The book was Susheela’s Kolam.
And so I spoke to the lovely lady at Project Crayons who gave me the teacher’s name and then we agreed to read the book between 11 to 12 in the morning..My friend SDT agreed to come to take pictures….RD was a bit skeptical about the distance and didnt know if we would get ricks, so all three of us, R, SDT and I reached at 10 instead of 11 heheheeh 🙂
Anyways we enjoyed just standing there for a while and then the teacher UN came to pick us up.
We walked through the slums to reach the place a small room, where the kids were there…we reached there walking through extreme conditions honestly…there were very very small shanties with not even a pakka roof, definitely no sanitation facilities with the water flowing through the road, houses just put together right next to each other, often separated by plastic sheets…It was an eye opener…I really give it to UN and the teachers there who slog tirelessly to ensure that the kids attend school..I am sure for them to get the kids to attend school is a very very difficult task…please go take a look at their website, I salute the teachers there…
Anyways, we reached there by 10.50 and teacher asked me to wait for a while before starting because they were sure some kids would come in..and they came in slowly…on the total there were about 22 kids who came in from the age of 6 years of 12 years…R was first a bit silent, but slowly opened up and came to her brattish self 🙂
First the kids started with the prayer and then told all the lovely rhymes…R recognized quite a few..and trust me they were GOOD!
Anyways, so I started, first introducing myself, thanking Pratham and thanking Project crayon and then told them that I will tell the story in English and then in Hindi.
So thats exactly what I did….I think they liked it, at least no one yawned 🙂 and they were looking at me with a lot of interest…A few of them were amazingly smart…they helped me translate words from English to Hindi…and I finished the reading…
Then I asked them where all they thought ‘Kolams’ could be made…and they come up with super duper ideas…and they translated the English words to Hindi and vice versa..some of them were shy and spoke only when I coaxed them to answer…
R was the brat running here and there and telling me to if she could start distributing stuff!
Anyways, after we figured out where all Susheela could draw Kolams including the top of autos and doors, and side of the bikes, and cars, and where not! I distributed blank greeting cards to the kids..and told them that I will draw a simple kolam on the board and they can copy it and then colour it and give it to their parents, grandparents…one kid asked ‘meri sister ko dena hai’ and I was like okie 🙂
Anyways, I must admit perhaps the kolam I chose was a bit complicated, but guess about 10 kids got it right 🙂 I helped the others..and then R had brought in all her crayons…the kids had a slight fight on who would take which colour, till the teacher’s genes in me kicked in and I was like everyone take only TWO colours…
While the kids were doing the colouring, I drew a simple kolam comprising of diamonds and then asked each kid to colour one diamond each, starting with the brat who was the youngest 🙂
anyways all the kids got a chance, and I had an assistant among them who told me which colour should be put where 🙂
We also decorated it with some flowers…and then came the highlight..my friend SDT was so sweet, that while the kids were doing the kolam on the floor, she walked through the place again and then came back with a big box of chocolates…
We distributed that, thanked the teachers, the kids..and I asked them if I could come back..and the kids were like ‘yes yes teacher’ and one of them tells the teacher ‘Please dont tell her no, let her come again’ :):)
So there, I wasnt a flop I guess!
Special thanks to my friend SDT who was absolutely amazing..engaging the kids, taking photos, handling R, being a big support system in all 🙂
Here are a few pictures 🙂