These are extraordinary times and it calls for extraordinary people and extraordinary measures. Parikrma has tried to rise up to this challenge for one reason only. We care. We care about our children and what is happening around us. The terrible inequity in opportunities that exists in society has always troubled us and for that very reason Parikrma was created in 2003. These last few weeks have been challenging learning times for us all. We have realized how poor the public health care system is and have further confirmed how fragile and vulnerable our children are. We got propelled into action when news through the lockdown reached us that our children were not getting food. Their parents are daily wage labourers and had stopped earning.
What are we doing?
Food & nourishment
We first began with the distribution of cooked meals on a daily basis from the third week of March but then slowly transitioned to giving weekly rations to 1500 families. As I write this mail to you, we would have provided nearly 700,000 meals in the 87 slum communities that we are working with. We have also reached out to additional households in the neighbourhood and nearby refugee settlements, since sharing resources for everyone’s wellbeing is very important for us.
We commissioned our mothers to stitch cloth bags to carry the provisions home. We paid the mothers a small amount per bag. This was our way of giving them some cash in a dignified manner so that they could recharge their phones, buy medicines etc. This was also to ensure that no plastic bag was being used.
Teachers get online
Parikrma schools began on 2nd of May 2020 with an Induction Program for the new teachers. We shared with them the purpose, philosophy and culture of Parikrma which we call the Parikrma Way. The new teachers are now going through an intense training program at the Parikrma Education Transformation Centre on Blooms Taxonomy, Multiple Intelligence, and Class Management Techniques that have been customized for our children. And needless to add, all this training is being done virtually.
On the 4th of May we did a never-done-before virtual Orientation program for about 123 teachers. It was good to see all our teachers in the tiny little squares in the laptop screen. It was not as great as hugging them, like we normally do, but good nevertheless.
The Reach V initiative
These have been very challenging times but we revel in the challenge that this opportunity presents to take education to the next level. Our children do not have computers but most of their parents have a cheap Smartphone. We decided that we would reach out to our children through their parent’s Smartphones. We are also doing a drive to collect used and spare Smartphones to give to those children whose parents do not have any. Our parents have signed a commitment form that they will allow their children to use their Smartphone for a few hours everyday to start the ReachV School. We have also empanelled our alumni that live in the same area to supervise and monitor the younger students and help the parents when required. We have to all work together.
Counselling for children
We have also opened a helpline called Covid Listening Post where children can dial in and get counseling and help from trained psychologists. We realise that many of our children will be feeling claustrophobic having been cooped up in their 100 sq. feet homes and would need some release. They would also have been privy to a lot of domestic violence and abuse. Our psychologists know the children well and can connect the dots easily for them. They will be there to listen to our children and their parents.
The way forward – our philosophy
With what has been happening around us it is evident certain permanent changes must be made in education even post Covid 19. We plan to slowly move from industrial education to nature education. We need to develop a curriculum that is more linked to nature and the natural way of living. Visits to forest must replace visits to malls. Education is for not just knowing and doing but also being. We believe it is time to switch roles between a student and a teacher and we are going to be experimenting with that. We are looking at developing a curriculum that will encourage active learners, curious learners, independent learners, and continuous life long learners. This work has already begun.
Here are a few of our observations, experiences during this crisis that we would like to share with you:
I have got to do what I have got to do:
My observations during a crisis:
Social ills of the daily wage system:
How can we build our lives with less addition and more subtraction?
How can you help?
We are currently raising funds for:
- – Smart phones for our children to be able to make the Reach V initiative accessible to all 1500 children
- – We have got access to refurbished 200 tablets – costing 2000/- that we will be giving to our junior college students
- – Laptops to all our teachers to be able to make the online teaching possible
- – We have not laid off any of our staff and don’t intend to. We are however, trying our best to be able to raise enough funds to be able to pay all our staff during this crisis when a lot of our budgets have been nipped due to economy meltdown
Be a Parikrma Champion:
Through you social media handles, you can raise funds for any of our initiatives. We will be more than happy to help with any document, information, images you would require for the same.
Spread the word
Do share our stories, initiatives with your friends and family