June 17th, 2009- Wed
Today was a new level of comfort and familiarity. As soon as we walked into class, all the children screamed “Welcome Teacher” as they always do- puts a smile on my face as soon as we enter.
As usual, we had planned the day, with today’s focus being the team building activities and moving towards the specifics of theatre. We had taken a bunch of notes and suggestions from Manjul the evening before. We tried to implement these ideas into games of our own. I tried to get them into a ‘musical clapping session’ which didn’t really turn out to be as planned. So we switched over to another game suggested by Sriya which reminded me of Brandeis orientation week. ☺ The name of the game was ‘WAH’ which works on building quick thinking and reflexives. It also works on them building confidence and becoming loud in a theatrical sense versus screaming.
There was a lot more that I could write, I’m just exhausted more than anything today. All that’s very important is that I know that the children were much more comfortable today and we were building a relationship. One girl asked me to teach her how to write and read. She was one of the girls who didn’t come to school regularly.
A lot of these students haven’t been stopped from coming to school from their parents. The community has always been very inviting of us. Infact there is always one woman who asks us to stay overnight in the slums with her and her children. However, there are many underlying problems that I haven’t yet completely grasped.
1) Like although the parents don’t explicitly say that the children can’t go to school- many of the children come late (sometimes 2/3 hours late) to class because they had to cook food, clean dishes or fill water. A lot of the times its invariably the girls that have to do these things- hence they miss out.
2) Another prominent excuse seems to be the fact that the children are going to ‘Arabic school’ or the Madrasas. Being a predominantly Muslim society, they don’t feel the need to go to the other school since they’re already ‘learning’.
3) The students are from migrant worker families- since they’re always moving they don’t get a chance for continuous formal education.
4) Girls have to get married early.
5) The priority isn’t formal education. There are many boys that have been sent to work instead of studying.
6) Loss of hope: Excuses like- its too late to start school, what’s the point? etc
This experience reaffirms our thoughts and purpose everyday, at every moment. What’s hard is that the people themselves don’t really think of these things as problems. This is our purpose. To open up the eyes of the community, and the children themselves, of the issues that exist within their community. Only after they identify the problem would they be able to find the solutions. For me they have to realize that although they aren’t privileged and that they have limited resources and help- a lot of their problems are caused due to their own issues. We, as volunteers, have to help them find a permanent solution. Education and Health are two of them.