Thursday, October 02, 2008

Defining and Seeking Mentors - An ear to listen, thoughts to share

How often do we find ourselves perplexed? - our beliefs questioned; in need of help to find an answer; having too many options to choose from; no one who can listen; tracing the thin line between right and wrong. The answer can't be "never" ! If as grown-ups we are caught up in the illogical haze at least rarely if not often, what about children ?

DSF's HeadStart programme currently connects with 75 such children, as the number grows, at their learning centres in Yeshwantpur and R.T Nagar. HeadStart is an initiative to assist, mentor and monitor children who are susceptible to dropping out of school at the Higher Primary stage. The programme strives to reach the most vulnerable groups like children rehabilitated from Child Labour, orphans, with single parent, disabled etc. - from dire socio economic conditions who have finished their higher primary schooling from a government school and are eager to continue education.

While the programme is committed to financially support 3 years of High School Education for a child, it is strengthened by volunteer-involvement to mentor and track the performance of the participant students and motivate them through these years. A mentor's contribution to help with the academic learning one -on -one with at the centre is a much superior experience for the child than typical classroom teaching. Over the years, several of the DSF volunteers have actively sought classroom teaching opportunities and helped the cause of improved learning. HeadStart, especially, continues to need such a forthcoming effort from all its partners. It certainly helps a child to interact with someone outside class and outside their learning environment on the softer issues of career counseling, academic improvement, identifying interests and honing particular skills- in short bridging the gap between idealism and realism, which can only be achieved by personalized mentoring.

DSF is offering a platform where useful mentor-mentee engagements can be facilitated. For 6 months to an year, the mentor should be able to meet the child once every week / fortnight. We are seeking mentors with the commitment to listen, understand and advise the children during this period. A mentor-mentee relationship can be managed better if the mentor does not get too emotionally involved with the child or provide additional financial help or rewards. The organization will support rapport building activities to ensure the relationship being built up is sound, beneficial to the mentee and self satisfying to the mentor.

It helps to know Hindi, Tamil or Kannada to be able to bond with the children. The organization provides the generic baseline structure, the programme, however, is specific to the individual being mentored. It heavily depends on the creativity and involvement of the mentor to be successful, even while DSF provides him/ her support and guidance throughout.

If you think you have the commitment and want to contribute positively to DSF's energy pool that works towards a more secure and informed future for these children, do contact us through or call on 9844060478, to schedule an orientation session.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Notebook Distribution Program at HD Kote

Dream School Foundation, and iQuest India together had co-ordinated a notebook distribution program for underprivileged government school kids in the HD Kote taluk on Tuesday, 29th July 2008, as they have been doing so for about 7-8 years now in various places in Karnataka. I happened to be a part of this exciting program this year.

We started from Bangalore on Tuesday morning at 6:15 am, and reached Sargur in HD Kote taluk by 11am. HD Kote happens to be one of the most backward regions in Karnataka, and is mostly habituated by the tribal population around backwaters of Kabini reservoir. There are many government schools and few tribal schools in this place but lack sufficient infrastructure to cater the needs of the kids here for good education.

A pile of notebooks for distribution
A pile of notebooks for distribution

About 12500 notebooks were obtained for distribution from the fund raised by Infosys. The notebook distribution was organized in a marriage hall with the support of a local NGO, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement. SVYM is a very inspiring organization started by a bunch of doctors from Mysore, about couple of decades back, for the development of health care and education in the tribal settlements of HD Kote, around Kabini backwaters. They've grown phenomenally in the last two decades, now having a good hospital, tribal school and lots of other activities.

The program went well, and i've included few pics of those kids here.

A classroon in VTCL, Hosahalli, HD Kote
A classroom in VTCL, Hosahalli, HD Kote

After the notebook distribution program, we had a look at the Vivekananada memorial hospital built by the local NGO, and had our lunch there. We visited a tribal school, Viveka Tribal Centre for learning (VTCL), in Hosahalli, about 30km from Sargur. The school is around the Kabini back waters, and we could see the full flowing Kabini dam on our way from Sargur to Hosahalli. Terming it as a beautiful school would be an understatement. Sprawling in the forest region, this school has both residential and non-residential students from the tribal settlements around that place. Children from tribal communities like Jenu Kurubas, Kaadu kurubas, Yeravas and Soligas attend this school which has good Computer, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry lab for classes from 1 to 10th. I was pleasantly surprised by the efforts of SVYM in providing such wonderful facilities in this part of the world.

Tribal girl portrait at VTCL - my best shot in the entire trip
Tribal girl portrait at VTCL

Just when we finished looking around the tribal school, the dark grey clouds opened up. The jungles look the best during monsoon. A couple of weird species caught my eye, a millipede may be, and another one i can't identify. This unidentified bug was racing away from the spot across the road, i managed to get a quick snap of him, and tried to put him in the open for a better shot but he just rolled up and started rolling down the road!
Embracing self with a million legs
Racing across the road

The trip was a very enriching one for me in various aspects. Saw, met and interacted with different people with different views, all striving to help create a better tomorrow for the people around them. I just have played a minuscule role in this program and the returns surely were a lot. Reached Bangalore by 11pm, and someone was surely very annoyed for the delay. But was still smiling. (it's not me)

Below are few pics worth a look.

'What you wanna become when you grow up?'

Bala scaring kids
A peek into 2nd std tribal class
A peek into 2nd std tribal class
Tribal kids in class - excited to see some alien with cam
Tribal kids in class - excited to see some alien with cam