on Roundabouts in Delhi (India), 11/Dec/2011 05:57, 34 days ago
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‘Head, shoulders, knees andtooooes, knees and toooes, and eyes and ears and mouth and nooose!’Me, my best Indian-English accentand twenty children enthusiastically singing along to‘Head, shoulders, kneesand toes.’ Another day at Pagdandi.Pagdandi is a project initiated bySwechain 2009. It is runby volunteers and provides informal education and mentoring support to thechildren of Jagdamba Camp, a slum community in New Delhi. Twice weekly sessionsare held on weekends and an interactive library has been set up within thecommunity that the children can access. The aim is to provide the children witha safe and stimulating environment that allows them to become more focused,self-confident and ambitious. I might be biased because I volunteer with thembut I can honestly say it is one the best, most effective and most neededinitiatives I’ve come across since being in India.Pagdandi helps every child to explore their individualpotential and also teaches them life skills such as team work and leadership. Manyof the older children take on the role of mentoring or tutoring the youngerchildren and all of the children act as mentors for one another, constructingrole plays, dances, songs and games around the session’s theme for that day. Activities are built around a particular theme each week that focuses on teaching the children about the wider environment outside of their community and what their roles and responsibilities are within that community. The children are also given the opportunity to learn newactivities such as karate, bharatnatayam dance, painting, play writing and acting, all of which are led by volunteers, and there is an annual Pagdandi Festival where they get the opportunity to put on a show for the community and showcase these activities. Becauseof my limited Hindi I am often treated more like the new kid in the playgroundrather than one of the adults so that at times I am also not quite sure who ismentoring who. More than once I have been given an impromptu Hindi lesson by anexasperated child who is appalled at my bad pronunciation. At the start of oneparticular Sunday session I very confidently asked them all in Hindi what theyhad been doing that week. Their faces lit up and I was met with a stream of enthusiasticresponses,               ‘Banana!’               ‘Gulabjamun!’               ‘Roti!’               ‘Dahl!’ I’d mistakenly askedthem what they had been eating that week.Karate lessonPart of the reason for my writing this particular blog postnow is that the Pagdandi project needs funding in order to be able to continueinto the next year. Swecha is therefore raising funds through participating inGlobal Giving’s Open Challenge:   Through this challenge Swecha hopes to raise enough funds toensure the continuation and growth of Pagdandi in the coming year. If you arereading this post then I really would urge you to go the link above and make adonation. Having seen first-hand what this project means to a large number ofchildren I know how important it is that it continues. All the money raisedgoes directly towards Pagdandi project for the materials needed to run the Pagdandi sessions and thecommunity library. If you would like to find out more about Pagdandi please feel free to write a comment on this post or you can go to the Swecha or Global Giving page directly.