“For in the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
— B. Dioum
My Community Action Project- Amaani, an Urdu word, signifies the different aspirations of an individual and takes its inspiration from the above quote of B. Dioum.
Article 26 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to education to everyone. This has been reiterated in Article 21(A) of the Indian Constitution. India has a population of over 1.9 billion and also, has the largest illiterate population in the world. There are many thousands of children in this country who are deprived of learning. Moreover, in families living below poverty line, children are seen as extra hands to earn a living for the family. They lose their years of playing and enjoyment and are engaged in child labour from a very early age. Most often, they come from families with a lot of violence. Seeing such extremities of life, they are burdened with a web of poverty and the inability to break the shackles of this burden.
Amaani therefore wishes to open new windows of ideas and opportunities for these children.
Amaani is a collaboration with the educational NGO Leaps and Bounds based in Delhi and envisions being able to break past this capability deprivation and introduce the children from such financially weak backgrounds to all that the modern education system has to offer. The CAP breaks from the conventional class room teaching to conduct classes outdoors with hands on models and experiments. Creative and innovative methods are used in order to facilitate growth in the child’s knowledge and imagination.
The workshops for children are divided into three themes –
(i) Regular classes- Albert Einsein said – ‘if you cannot explain it to a six year old, you don’t know it yourself’.
Thus, in the regular classes, subjects like astronomy, space and galaxies, botany, zoology, history, geography are taught. This is done through the means of activities, storytelling, experiments, visits, movies, quizzes which help the children to gain an in depth and clear understanding of the topic being explored.
(ii) Nature Walks- Nature is endlessly fascinating for children. Despite Delhi’s urban sprawl, there are still pockets of wilderness and greenery in the city where nature can be experienced firsthand. With this focus of introducing children to their natural environment, sessions on butterflies and other insects, nesting resident birds, visiting migratory birds, trees and flowers, frogs and toads and the varied micro-ecosystems are conducted.
(iii) Heritage walks- Delhi has been inhabited for more than 3000 years and the children peel away the layers as they travel through the myriad settlements that were once ruled by the Tomars, the Slave Dynasty, the Lodis, the Mughals and finally the British. Murder, intrigue, plotting in the harem, treacherous generals, fratricide, all powerful emperors and queen-every monument in Delhi has a fascinating story to reveal. The children are acquainted with the era, the belief events, and the architecture of the heritage. They learn to take pride in it, to value and cherish it.
It takes roughly a month to a month and a half to complete one concept.
Thus, these classes serve as a discovery model where children learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction.
Because the classes require a lot of inputs, planning and research, about forty volunteers from Delhi University are trained to conduct and assist the children in the workshops.
For children who grow up witnessing a lot of violence and trauma, these workshops and classes act as a great way to heal some of their painful and emotional wounds. It also equips children with essential life skills which they can use for the rest of their lives.
Though this project is running in three different centres at present, I wish to further expand this project in the coming months to reach out to more number of children and introduce as many children as I can to the joys of learning.