Friday, January 8, 2010

This day - Five years ago

This write up appeared in the college magazine in 2005. This is the workshop that sowed the seeds for the new Pudiyador at Urappakkam which is now a little less than 5 years old!

The workshop
Vedik B
Final year, Mechanical
What would fifty children be doing on a weekend? Play, have fun and enjoy themselves? Two more words Teach and Learn, which are seemingly incongruous to the situation, added to the above, was what made the workshop, organized by the Social Service Cell of our college, a grand success.

*Pudhiyadhor* is an organization situated at Ramapuram. This organization nurtures the children of the nearby slums by exposing them to a plethora of activities. Art, crafts, dance, music, yoga, karate and what not! Good Life Centre, at Tambaram, houses orphaned as well as mentally challenged children. The centre cares for 72 children, of whom 40 are challenged. The Social Service Cell of our college, recharged and rejuvenated this year, is a bunch of enthusiastic and dedicated students. It was during one of our meetings, where all members put on their thinking caps, that it was decided that we could act as a bridge between Pudhiyadhor and Good Life Centre. The idea of a workshop emerged and it was decided that it would be a two-day affair where the kids from Pudhiyadhor would share their knowledge of the various forms of art and craft with the kids from Good Life.

A question that was frequently posed to our team was, *Of what use is this workshop, where you plan to share a bit of art and a bit of craft, going to be?* We answered that we intended to give the kids *A whole new experience* - An experience that the children from Good Life Centre had never had the opportunity to be a part of ever before; An experience that the children of Pudhiyadhor had always been waiting for, *Each one teach one, Each one Reach one* being the motto that they were growing on. Little did we realize then, that during the two days, it would also be us, who would learn a lot.

Planning started well ahead and it was decided way back in October, that the dates would be the 8th and 9th of January 2005. The activity of the cell reached a frenzied pace during the final week, when all plans had to be finalized and timings confirmed.

Then the D-day arrived. No formal procedures being involved, the ice-breaking session, intended to create a bonding between the two sets of children, was a instant hit and work started off in a jiffy. After a bit of play, the children (and those of us who were artistic or just plain curious) learned to make a beautiful garland of beads. Before lunch another creation of the kids was getting ready. This time it was a lovely golden tree made with the simplest of materials. 

The Principal came in the afternoon and spoke to the kids and presented the first book of the library that the social service cell proposed to set up at Good Life center, to a volunteer from Good Life. He also announced that we would be presenting Pudhiyadhor with a DVD player. As the day came to a close the list of things that the kids taught and learned included the garland, a golden tree, 2 little songs, miniature flower-pots and a pen-stand. 

Day two started off with great gusto. Three events that started simultaneously were marble painting, making of greeting cards, and paperweights. A bowl of water was taken and a few drops of kerosene poured into this. Drops of paints were then put on the water and mixed carefully. Each kid then floated his/her card on the colored water and lifted it up within seconds. The result was a marble like effect on the card and a successive bright smile on the kid's face. Our college students too were trying their hand at this, with immense pride, by mixing the colors in different proportions so as to get the weirdest effect of all.

Many of us thought that piles of stones used for construction were fit for only that purpose but it wasn't to be. And in matter of an hour, the stones were glittering paper weights. *There wouldn't have been a better way to spend my week-end*, said a volunteer, during the transformation. With brushless painting the kids' imagination crossed all barriers in making a greeting card. When the kids finished with this, they went into another room and had loads of fun singing and dancing to their own tunes.

Later in the day, the founder of Pudhiyadhor, Mr.Narayanan, came and spoke to our team about his reasons for starting Pudhiydhor and told us his views about the whole event. We were filled with pride when he told us that we were the first college to conduct a workshop like this and that we were capable of doing many more meaningful things. He spoke about the country's plight and what we, as students, could do to make it a better place. As his talk ended, Mr.Baskaran, the secretary of Good Life joined us. 

The finale was a one and a half hour entertainment session. A Half hour performance by each of the participating groups: Pudhiyadhor, Good Life and us. This over, mementoes were shared. The two-day event had come to a close and it dawned on us that it was a bigger success than we had imagined. The concept *Each one Teach one*, was the focal point around which everything revolved for the two days. We learned a lot from the  event and do intend to put to use, what we have learned. The commitment of our team and the sustained efforts that needs to be and will be put in will take the Social Service Cell places, and the members to a higher plane than ever before.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Looking ahead

In Nithya's post on Pudiyador entering its 5th year we reflected on what Pudiyador has done for this tiny hamlet and also briefly discussed on the more pressing issues before us.

One of the long term aims of Pudiyador @ Urappakkam was to achieve self sufficiency. By self sufficiency what we envisioned would happen is that the community would accept Pudiyador as a way of life and take up ownership and ensure the smooth running of day to day activities. The inputs of the Urappakkam team may still be needed but we would not be involved in making day to day decisions. Some incidents do seem to tell us that we are getting there. The snacks which are provided in the evenings at the center were being prepared by Durgaiyyppan's mom. This was a pretty good arrangement and most of the times it went on quite smoothly. Unfortunately they had to move and the supply of evening snacks was interrupted. Other parents stepped up and have been taking turns and are now making sure that the snacks are made and distributed to the children every evening.

While stuff like this is encouraging we still have a long way to go. The center still heavily depends on inputs from people from the Urappakkam core team at Chennai such as Vinodh, Ronald. That sort of dependence on people is definitely not feasible in the long run. The best case scenario would be a few people from the community (maybe womenfolk) take charge and are able to handle day to day activities. I invite suggestions from all you folks on how best we can improve participation from the community.

One idea we had was to bring in the parents - the moms of the kids, one or two of them everyday, and make them see what goes on at the center in the evenings. They can even help maintain discipline and a semblance of order which would be too much to ask of just one coordinator. The benefits would be two fold - I am sure the parents, with a greater awareness of Pudiyador, will make sure their kids attend regularly, also a sense of ownership can manifest itself leading to our greater aim, that of Self sustenance. This is but one idea and just a vague one at that. Chip in with your ideas in the comments section and I am sure you guys can do a better job than us :)

Lets make this work!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Valediction & Exhibition on May 31

Its that time of the year again. Another great summer camp at Pudiyador Urapakkam is drawing to a close and if you want to find out how great it has been please drop by on Sunday, May 31, 9 am onwards. There will be a valediction as well at 4 PM.

Drop By. It ll encourage the kids enormously and it will help you see what a difference you are making in their lives.

update: all pics here

Friday, May 22, 2009

SSLC results - 2009

We have a 100% pass in SSLC also this year.
Listed below are the total marks of each student on 500.

Abir - 261
Annamalai - 438
Durgaiyyappan - 292
Jayaprakash - 293
Selvam - 231
Sridhar - 360

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Entering year 5

May 19th, 2005 was when we started the first summer camp at Urappakkam. As of today, May 19th 2009, we have come a long way and we see a long way ahead of us.

Some of what we see as our achievements this year:
We have a good number of girls coming regularly to the center. This was a major issue that we needed to deal with when we entered the scene. Employing women facilitators has helped loads in taking care of this issue.
No girl has dropped out of school in the last one year. A girl who dropped out the previous year, got back into school this year!

Areas that need immediate improvement:
A seeming lack of parental involvement in the activities at the center is very disturbing.
The fact that we still have not found feasible metrics to track our progress, because the "confidence level" that we seek to improve is such an intangible objective.

Our vision when we started the center 4 years ago was:
To make Urappakkam a culturally rich, economically sound and a well-informed area through the holistic education of children, literacy programs and vocational training for women and health care for entire families.

We have made a little progress. We have miles to go before we sleep.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

12th results - 2009

Anbarasi is the first girl in the community to attempt and pass her 12th standard exams!

Subject Theory Practical Total


PHYSICS 072 050 122
CHEMISTRY 070 050 120

Subject Theory Practical Total


PHYSICS 065 050 115
CHEMISTRY 053 050 103

Update (Jul 2009): Both Seenu and Anbarasi are in College now! Seenu is doing his B.Sc Statistics in Presidency and Anbarasi is doing her B.Sc Mathematics in SNDB Vaishnav College.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Summer Camp - 2005

Day 0: 18.5.05, Wednesday
It was found that buying lunch rather than getting it cooked by the womenfolk would work out to be less expensive and much more convenient. Renting the vessels, getting the fuel ("veragu"), buying the material, managing inventory and the actual cooking and serving would consume too much of our time and we might be unable to do what we want. There was this hotel which was known for quality vegetarian food at the right cost. So we arranged for food to be delivered in the sangam at 12:00 noon everyday of the camp. Tea would be delivered at 4:00 p.m.

With the sangam structure not enough for even 20 children, the need for a covered area which could accommodate atleast 35 was urgent. We were promised a structure with light roofing by the 22nd, so we needed to put up a temporary structure. A "pandhal" was quickly decided upon after considering putting up a shamiana which did not seem cost-effective since we had to pay on a per-day basis. There was also the possibility of the light roof structure not coming up at the right time. The "pandhal" in front of the camp was completed at 2:00 a.m, 19.5.05 !

Day 1: 19.5.05, Thursday
Camp inaugurated at 9:30 by lighting the lamp. Our Chief guests were Dr. K.Subramaniam- former manager of Asian Development Bank, Mr. P.N.Devarajan- Director of Krishnamachari Yoga Mandiram, Mr. Chellappan- Director Asian Bearings, Mr. Mohan Ram- English Professor Nanadanam Arts College, Mr. Narayanan- Founder "Pudhiyadhor...", Mr. Inquilab- Poet & Playwrite and Mr. Immanuel- Head of the sangam.

The audience were mainly children who would be attending the camp and very few elders. Narayanan uncle had brought bags made at Pudhiyadhor Ramapuram to be distributed to the kids. Each contained a pencil, an eraser, a sharpener, a pen and a box of crayons. Dr. K.Subramaniam had given us biscuits to be distributed and when this was done, we had the first taste (not of the biscuits!) of what we had to deal with. The kids were highly restless and were fighting for getting a packet of biscuits. There was complete chaos. This done, they were taught a song, "Aasai patta ellaathayum...". They were then split into two groups. One consisted of the 6th and 7th standard kids and the other of 8th, 9th and 10th standard kids. This was how we would manage the kids for the rest of the camp.

Ms. Latha from Ethiraj College was the resource person and she taught the senior kids to play a game called "Challenge".

Lunch was next and it was difficult. Shabana from Pudhiyadhor organized the whole thing and the kids were starting to learn that enough was available for everyone and nobody would be left out.

Post lunch, a Bharathiar song, and a talk with the children on why we are doing this and what they should do to get all the good things that we want them to get. And what they should not do. The kids were given tea at 4:00 p.m.

The kids were extremely protective about their bags and would never let it out of their sight even for a very short while. This was proving to be a hindrance while we had to teach them something which required their bags to kept away. Even little things like this had to be changed.

Mr. Lara, the resource person from Yoga mandiram came at 5:00 p.m. The kids learnt yoga till 6:00 after which they left, excited and bewildered.

[Yoga pic comin up]

Day 2: 20.5.05, Friday
Ms. Latha taught the senior kids to make paper bags and to decorate them with thumb prints using red and green ink. The juniors were learning a Bharathiar song.

Lunch was a bit easier. Volunteers from AID-India came and screened a short film on Bacteria and Virus.

Yoga for an hour from 5:00 to 6:00 and then tea.

Day 3: 21.5.05, Saturday
Made the kids talk about what they felt about the past two days to find out what they had understood and what they had not. "Vaazhga Pudhiyadhor!" was what a lot of kids repeated at the end of their little speech! Some kids said that they liked the bags that they were given, some talked about the food, the biscuits and some talked about the CD show. They did not seem too mindful of all the advice that was given! Resource persons from AID-India came. The kids were taught many games that would improve concentration and alertness.

Lunch was a more peaceful affair, with not too much chaos.

A metric-mela was organized by the volunteers from AID during the afternoon session where metrics for length, weight and volume were learnt joyfully. The focus was on visual inspection. Yoga 5 - 6.

Inquilab uncle came at 5:30. Interacted with the children and promised to come everyday at around 5:00

Day 4: 22.5.05, Sunday
Mr. Immanuel was scheduled to come at 9:30 but was caught up with other things unexpectedly. Instead the kids were made to practise the songs that they had learnt. Pronunciation was corrected and the meanings of the songs explained in more detail.

Lunch was becoming more and more orderly everyday with no major hiccups.

Jayabharathi from HCL arrived and the kids sang all the songs that they had learned. She taught them "Jaya Berigai...", a bharathiar song.

Yoga. Tea.

Inquilab uncle came and the kids shared some stories with him.

Day 5: 23.5.05, Monday
Volunteers from AID came. The senior kids were exposed to a lot of science funda which they had already learnt in the school, but now in a very different way through some practical experiments. Meanwhile the juniors were making fishes, boats and frogs with paper. The kids were so excited that they actually said, "Anna, we'll have lunch a bit later." After lunch they were taught some math. Then song practice. Inquilab uncle told us a story about Buddha and a few other interesting stories and the kids would have to enact one of these. He then went through some poetry writing basics for the senior kids who were interested in poetry.

Day 6 : 24.5.05, Tuesday
TNSF Volunteers engaged the kids with origami. The kids learnt to make 9 different types of hats from a single sheet of paper.

[Hats... pic comin up]

Dramatics was scheduled next and the stories which they had to enact were chosen. After lunch the kids were split into three teams. Each would enact one play. The plays were, "Kannirundhum Kurudanaai...", "Vaendaam Sandai!" and "Thaai". After the first group had finished practising their roles, they came up with their own play on Pudhiyadhor! They were finding their own reasons of why they need to come to Pudhiyadhor and what other children were missing out on. It was surprising. All the plays were enacted for Inquilab uncle.

Yoga & tea.

Day 7 : 25.5.05, Wednesday
Started preparation for the valediction. Voice hunt for the choir! Selected 11 out of the 32. TNSF volunteers kept the kids busy with various games. Post-lunch the kids went to map their area, counted the trees, shops, pucca houses and thatched houses. Came back to draw the area using match sticks. Turned out looking great.

Day 8 : 26.5.05, Thursday
Had another review. Each kid came up to say what s/he felt. One said, "We will all study as much as you, and then come to Adyar and Ambattur (where a few of us volunteers were from) to set up a pudhiyadhor there" !!! Another said the "If we go to the beach or a theatre, we will spend a lot of money and get entertained for a maximum of 4 hours. But at pudhiyadhor we are learning so much and this will be useful for the rest of our lives" !!!!

Mr & Mrs. Immanuel taught the kids to make roses out of paper.

[Our Flowers! pic comin up]

While the juniors were doing this, the seniors were taught math funda by volunteers from AID. After lunch, the seniors were taught some geographical facts with a globe and a lot of questions were asked. The juniors continued with making the flowers. Mohan Ram uncle came and interacted with the children. Found them to be bright and was teaching them the basics of conversing in English.

Yoga, Tea

Day 9 : 27.5.05, Friday
A personality development workshop was to be conducted for the children of both Pudhiyadhor Ramapuram and Urappakkam together at Urappakkam on 29th, Sunday, the last day of the camp. As our place was not enough, we tried a few places and finally got help from Mrs. Immanuel for an appointment with the headmistress of the Government High school which was a 5 minute walk away from the sangam. The headmistress was very impressed with the Pudhiyadhor concept and as all the children were from the same school, she let us access to a big hall which could accomodate 300 people. Seniors made Flower vases with ice cream sticks. Ravi Shankar, an IIT prof associated with TNSF and AID, performed magic with playing cards and taught them how it works. Also threw some light on basics of Light. He then went on to some math games. Very well recieved by the kids. After lunch, a volunteer from AID conducted the Science mela.

Yoga, Tea

Day 10 : 28.5.05, Saturday
Made earrings. And more flower vases. Preparation for the valediction. Practice. Practice... More Practice.

Day 11 : 29.5.05, Sunday
Personality Development from 10:00 to 3:45 for all the kids from Pudhiyadhor Urappakkam and Ramapuram. Arrangement for the Display. Function started at 4:50 Most kids came with their parents.

[Proud Display pic comin up]

Address by Inquilab uncle, J.K uncle, Narayanan uncle, Immanuel uncle, MohanRam uncle, Oor Thalaivar, Udayan, Samu and JayaBharathi. And one thing that gave us immense happiness was that our Principal turned up for the valediction. The performance by the kids from Urappakkam and Ramapuram was great. Function over by 7:00

All the parents and kids were happy. And so were we! :)