School´s First Steps
In August-September 2010 our school was already functioning well. Eleven students got the chance to attend; all of them are girls, aged 4 -9. We don't have more specific info on their ages, because none of them has a birth certificate. Our teacher, Ceema Hirvani, about 30 years of age, is a mother of two little girls and very excited of her work. She has gotten things to run smoothly, even though the school year has been running for only two months.
Ceema is a joyful person, and the kids like her very much. Ceema uses Indian method of teaching, which means all the students repeat after her when she is teaching. Our teacher is very kind and takes good care of the whole group of girls. I got to follow their schooldays starting from the morning's teatime.
Four of the smallest kids couldn't follow the teaching, and the teacher also thought so. They weren't mature enough to go to school just yet. I sent them back to their homes to wait for a few years and then they could come back. Some of the kids are much smaller than other kids of their age, most probably because of malnutrition and lack of care. Still, all of the kids did have clean clothes; they had gotten them via donations, and wore sandals.
The school has one classroom, with a black and red striped rug in the middle, on which the kids sit on. The teacher has a small desk, and then there are three chairs. For teaching there is a wallboard, books and notebooks.
All of them have written letters in both English and in Hindi, and the older kids even some words. They have also been writing numbers, and older kids even have made some small calculations. The kids are really excited about different games and ballgames. They are very eager to learn, their eyes are blinking with learning excitement!
Kids have learned well to wash their hands. I was visiting in August-September, which is the monsoon season. Sometimes it was pouring rain, the bumpy roads turned into huge puddles of mud. The homes in the slums are very dark, wet and under a high risk just because the lack of hygiene. The kid’s homes are located in a slum, where the houses are surrounded by water, and the residents have been sick with a very painful eye infection that usually lasts for five days. The disease struck the girls in our school, and all the time some of the students had to stay at home. Sometimes there were only ten kids present.
I was visiting during a season of several different religious festivals, during which the kids' parents left to their home villages for as long as five days, and took their kids with them. For health reasons, the kids will get all their vaccinations after the monsoon season.
Dinner time at school went smoothly. Before eating, the kids lined up for a hand wash. The food is eaten by hands, as it is custom in India. The kids sit on the floor and wait for their food to be served on metal plates. The food is vegetarian, chapati-bread and rice, with water for drink. When the school started, the kids ate huge amounts of food, but now the situation has normalized. They are also offered more food.
All the kids have been dewormed. When the dinner was over, the kids all got up and thanked nicely for the food. After that they washed their hands again. The opening celebrations of the school were held at September 19th 2010, and we put Indian and Finnish flags up to the flagpole. The kids were so happy, when they got miniature flags, and they were waving them!
Present at the opening ceremonies were the Chairman of our associate Chaudhary welfare society Balbir Singh with his family, the India-Finland coordinator of Agran Koululaiset Jasvinder Singh and the chairwoman Pirkko Hellstén. After the ceremonies, kids, teacher and cook were offered Indian tea and barfi-candy.