Friday, February 3, 2012

My first visit to a Balawadi

This was my first visit to a Balawadi center run by PRATHAM. There were two friends who were also coming and one of them was celebrating her birthday. Being North Indians to ease their communication with the children a center in a Muslim area was selected. The center was a one room operation but quite spacious with a high roof and a shady mango tree outside. All the walls were decorated with pictures and charts. There were about twenty children aged between 3 and 5. They all greeted us in chorus with a cheerful "Good Morning". I was surprised to see a German lady assisting the teacher in-charge of the Balawadi. I subsequently learnt that foreign volunteers (mainly German) come regularly every year. They do volunteering full time spending time at the Balawadi as well as Goverment schools as part of PRATHAM's programs. Soon there were several rhymes recitation by the children which was on par with any kindergarten in the city. Next one of the children gave a hand made greeting card to the visitor and this was followed by the "Happy Birthday" song. Evidently they had prior information of the visit! After sweets were distributed by the visitors and children had their fill, it was touching to see the German volunteer take a broom and clean up the place just as we Indians do. It showed the amount of integration with the local culture that she had imbibed during her stay.
After a long series of handshakes with each of the enthusiastic kids and bye-byes it was time to leave.
While we could not look at the mode of teaching, the specific aids designed by PRATHAM which are used, it was still a good experience which provided a glimpse of the workings of the Balawadi. Going by the children's enthusiasm I can say that the dedication and hard work of the staff is very much evident.

1 comment:

CM Reddy said...

interesting trip..