Listening to Ninety Dreams

In the past few months, there have often been moments where I have traveled through green fields in a ‘fatfati’ with my teammates, thinking about the smiles we had just bid good-bye to. These moments are usually characterized by awe, of what we are surrounded by, and a certain oxymoron-like sense of fulfillment and a desire to do more. 
Working with SwaTaleem has given me the chance to step into the world of ninety little girls and has presented me with an opportunity to learn so much.

While I have learnt many things such as how an NGO is set up, how to work with government officials, how to work with children and teachers, how to design and implement session plans and much more, the most important lesson I have received is how important it is to listen. We listened to the children and their dreams, teachers and visions, and the higher authorities and their guidance. I have learnt that it is okay when things do not work out. All you have to do is take a step back, breathe, and try again. Not only those at the school and my seniors at work, I have had the incredible opportunity of learning from my peers. Watching so many people put their heart into their work, just so that they can leave a better place than they found it, is the motivation which fuels you when you need it the most. 

And just like that, eating food prepared with love, dancing in the middle of nowhere, and talking to these beautiful souls makes travelling for 4-5 hours worth it. With girls who gift you their smiles, hugs, adoration and roses, KGBV Jalmana will always hold a special place in my life. 

About the Author: Kavya Mohta, Young India Fellow-2019

Pursuing History Hons has taught Kavya incredible lessons and has motivated her to create a positive impact in this world. Building a school in a basti and working in various NGOs has led her to meet, and work people who have restored her faith in humanity and personify hope in her life. She looks forward to keep on learning, getting inspired by those around her, and do her best to contribute to the well-being of the society in whatever way she can.  She has been an integral part of Swataleem in capacity of  ELM team member from Young India Fellowship, Ashoka University since September 2018. 

Collaboration – NCERT and SwaTaleem

Mewat, 27-28 February, 2019

A 2 day workshop was conducted for 50 government teachers (KGBV teachers, special educators and other government school teachers) in KGBV-Nuh, Mewat on the issues identified after visiting KGBVs in Mewat and talking to district education officials in a 3 day need assessment (conducted by Prof Anupam Ahuja and Arunima from NCERT and Arzoo from Swataleem). The issues that were picked up during the workshop are:

  1. Inclusion – Need, Rights and Creating platforms in Schools
  2. Reproductive health
  3. Locomotor Disability
  4. Visual impairment
  5. Intellectual disabilities
  6. Autism
  7. Hearing Impairment
  8. Minority Education

This was spearheaded by Prof Anupam Ahuja and Arunima from NCERT. The things that teachers appreciated and mentioned in their feedback forms were:

  1. Experiencing peer learning and group learning
  2. Reproductive health discussed in a mix group of males and females
  3. The sensitization on children with special needs were not limited to just special educators and involved all the educators.
  4. Techniques for inclusion in schools

Teachers really appreciated that NCERT training is happening in their school rather than in NCERT.

The learning for us to improve upon as a group is to ensure to pick up less content and have more continuous engagement through various means for an effective outcome.

What was fascinating to see was to see an NCERT workshop happening in premises of KGBV in Mewat. It was a collaborative effort of KGBV teachers, special educators other government school teachers  and District education officials.

Looking for more such collaborations to make KGBVs as examples of excellence.

THE FIELD- My Experience at KGBV Jalmana

The field has been a space full of conversations, curiosity, laughter and learning – a KGBV school, in the village of Jalmana, Panipat District. My experiences on the field have been taxing but also enriching, tiring but also mesmerising, exhaustive but also oh, just wonderful. Working with girls (aged 11-14) studying at KGBV, Jalmana, has taught me many lessons in many ways. Ranging from learning the tricks of the field on the field, interview techniques, and honing my observation skills, to conceptualising, preparing and organising educational workshops in an interactive way such that I can hold the attention of these young imaginative and creative minds and be ready to answer to their curious questions. Some of the workshops conducted so far have been on the topic of Menstruation, Consent, Good Touch-Bad Touch, Arts, Toy Making, and Scientific Experiments.

Working with them as a team member instead of assuming a position of a hierarchical team leader has been instrumental in opening doors to more questions and discussions. In these close exchanges, I have learnt a lot. They have helped me understand the plays of hierarchy, power, and gender roles. They have sensitised me to the life of privilege I have been living, all by the virtue of luck. They have helped me better understand where I am positioned, what change I seek and what action I am capable of, and, have added more meaning and relevance to my education in Liberal Studies by grounding it in its larger social context.

About Author: Mahima Jaju, 24, Communication Designer • Young India Fellow 2019

Mahima sees her education in Design as a privilege, to be used to fulfil her social responsibility as a concerned and sensitive citizen, as a well-rounded designer. As a student of Communication Design for four years and after having worked in the industry for one year, she has great confidence in the good that good design can do. Currently pursuing the Young India Fellowship, Mahimais exploring the many realities that make up this one world. She has been an integral part of Swataleem in capacity of  ELM team member from Young India Fellowship, Ashoka University since September 2018.