Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The journey of change

Day 14- 23rd June

When I woke up I was really excited to be going back to the school today. Juhi and Zohar came to my place like yesterday and we made our concrete plan for the day. Our focus was trying to find a way to get a script from the children. We had our activities planned out, bought the required stationary on the way and went to the school. Today was a rainy day. But we were really lucky that it stopped raining when we were walking to the school as well as walking back. The path was mucky and gross as expected. The garbage seemed more visible. We decided to meet gangadhar at the office on the way to the school and give him an update that our plans for the outing were canceled and that we planned to show the kids some videos of other plays instead. We reached the school and glad to hear the now familiar “Namaste teacher” with smiling faces! The kids had been learning the Hindi alphabets and words with Gayathri teacher. They all had their notebooks out which they showed us. The kids seemed really noisy today and Gayathri teacher had to spend time shouting at them and even hit some children. We finally got them into a circle to start. We did our ‘wave’, like we had done last week with the children in the circle. It was fun. Then we sat down and asked for volunteers who would come up and act out how their facilitators (i.e. Juhi, Zohar and I) have acted in the past week. Saima and her girl gang came up and acted out a scene where they wake up in the morning and the general things that they do when we wake up. This was similar to the play that the three of us had acted out the previous week. When we further tried to make them understand and act out our ways, they observed exactly how we were sitting at that moment and Saima chose 3 girls to sit in front of the 3 of us in the same positions we were. At one point I found it really funny that when I moved my hands about, Saima came up to me and said “Didi, aap aise karoge toh kaise hoga?” (what will we do if you keep doing such things?) She actually meant that I had moved my hands and so placed them back in the exact same positions. One thing I noticed at this point is that, this girl Rukhsana, who always stayed out of activities and never wanted to reply to my questions whenever I had tried interacting with her, actually came and sat by my side and put her hand on me. We exchanged smiles. It was really sweet. This was the first time that I had seen her come up and join an activity. After this activity we told the kids it was recess and told them to come back on time as we were going to paint. During recess, most of the kids stayed back and watched. We got everything ready for the painting activity. This was to create some kind of visual art that would get them express their thoughts and feelings. We had figured that since they were already good at painting and drawing, we would use this to get them to come out with their thoughts. We made 3 groups according to ages like yesterday and they also had the same topics. The kids also had the same 3 topics that were Gender discrimination, education and cleanliness. The kids had to be motivated and we had to keep asking questions to get them to do something. When the kids were doing this I started playing some games with Asheep and another kid. They asked me to join them playing some games with their hands and we had some fun doing that for a while. After painting, we played a game using props that the kids were extremely creative with. Their imagination ran wild. The group I was sitting with had a broom for the prop and they had to basically think of different ways it could be used. They used the broom as a fan, bat, umbrella, bottle, fish, bird, car, rod, wooden stick to even an airplane. They not only just said that the broom could be all these things but could actually use noise effects and actions to show them. After that we got into a circle again and were going to re-do the plays we did yesterday but then the children wanted to play this other game related to months of the year that was completely unrelated to anything we were trying to get at. Then we just decided that since we didn’t have much time left we would just sit down with the children and start penning down the script while we spoke to them. We decided the script should start in the morning when they wake up. Almost all the children agreed that the mother woke up first, showered and then made food. The father woke up showered and then asked the mother for tea and breakfast, the father then went to work. All the children then woke up and had their showers as and when they woke up one by one. The children then did housework and then went to school. As we spoke to the kids about all this some of them were getting fidgety as these were mostly the questions we had been asking them most of last week. We told them that those who wanted to go home could leave. Many children did stay back and speak to us. Finally Sahil, his sisters and another boy stayed till the end. Sahil spoke a lot about his different experiences at home and his thoughts. I felt really amazed, shocked and worried about all the stuff he said. The tone he used to say everything matter-of-factly was more surprising than the actual events he was relating. Hearing the stuff we did from a 10 year old like him was completely heart breaking. Then we said bye and all started waking towards the car to come back home. On the way we saw that the market was really really busy. Full of vendors with spices, masalas, toys, mangoes, vegetables, clothes and many other things. Some things we had been walking past the previous few days really got to me today. The cut chickens and cows we saw on the way along with the fish. I saw some blood on the ground and was disgusted an felt pukey. The smell of the meat and fish was unbearable. Added to it today was the sudden traffic of autorikshaws and taxis….the perpetually scary goats and DOGS and the people who stared at us all through the way. The mucky dirty conditons had gotten worse. We were lucky again that it wasn’t raining. On our way in the car we discussed the day and spoke to Manjul over the phone. We have decided to meet for a long meeting tom before we go to the school. We plan to make a final script that is definitely to be subject to change and then start working on the play. The kids today had been extremely sticky with us. Many children had spoken out more than usual while some of the loud ones had become a little quiet. The children were really loving and all over us. Fighting to hold our hands and to sit closest to us. Though it gave me a feeling of being loved and I loved that the kids wanting me to be there with them it was a little overwhelming at times having so many of them on me thinking I was some kind of game. At one point today I actually had 5 children on either side of me hitting my hand as I shouted! They wanted me to carry them while they stood on my feet and actually fought a lot over who would hold my hand. The girls definitely fought more than the boys but I also noticed some boys who came up and wanted to hold my hand. We have a plan for tomorrow and a general idea. These kids do actually have a lot of things to say and even though I feel that we should have started questioning them more in the beginning to get more ideas of their lives, it is only because they have spent so much time with us that they now don’t mind telling us and are pouring their lives out to us. They definitely do not realize what we view as “problems” in their lives, as they have never seen the other side to know about them. I feel a little hesitant in planting these thoughts in their minds that what they’re being made to do is wrong. I feel like this might create a lot of changes in their houses. This change can be good in terms of them getting hit less and having to do less housework and study more or also the families could dislike that the school they’re going to is encouraging rebelling thoughts like this and could stop sending them to school. We really have to plan out what we’re doing tomorrow and how the script is going to get this message across without creating controversies. So looking forward to tomorrow and hoping for the best…

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