Saturday, July 30, 2011

LEAD gets Ghansoli school too on track !!

Hi Amit,

Thanks for sharing this and most importantly for going head bravely as per our telephonic discussion.... ;-))

Many of us may not know this, but our Airoli municipal school teachers are still praising us and appreciating our efforts, as we could explain the right laws & practices to their school principal as this comes as a big relief (physical, mental and financial) for all the poor parents who were till now harassed to run after the notaries and get the affidavits of their wards done by paying/bribing them somewhere between Rs.200-500/- and all the related shit, which is not at all required as per by the bill that has become an Act now...

But the biggest disappointment is that even the school principals are not aware about this and due to their such stupid behavior, many kids are deprived of their basic right to education... This was one of the major reasons that I came to know from the parents, 3 years back, when I had asked them as to why don't they send their kids to school...and we too had unknowingly got the affidavits worth Rs.3500/- made for 35 kids....

But then, thanks to Arambh, who opened our eyes and we could finally set the things right in this school in 2009 and now even at Ghansoli municipal school !!  (I still remember the big fight that I had with the Airoli school principal regarding this matter, with the help of education officer ;-)))

So for all our new volunteers, this is what is LEAD !!  If we want to set the wrong things into right, we Can, provided we 'really' want to !!  ;-))

On Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 5:48 PM, Amit Rao wrote:

Hello all,

There have been many cases where the school authorities have been asking us to submit the satya-patra on stamp papers of Rs.100 denomination. I would like to inform you all that no such formality is necessary to admit a child. The satya patra alone is enough to secure admission in a school.

We faced a similar incident at Ghansoli . The Marathi medium headmistress insisted on the stamp paper documentation. Even though she admitted the children to the school she didn’t give them the supplies as we hadn’t furnished the documents yet. This continued for more than a month and the children were denied uniforms, shoes and raincoats.  When Rupesh sir came to know about this, he informed me that we have already spoken to a certain education commissioner , Mr.Balasaheb Mane, and confirmed that the stamp papers are absolutely not necessary. I conveyed this to the headmistress and after a few checks here and there she obliged and withdrew her request.

So lets all be aware that its due to the lack of knowledge of the school authorities that such mundane formalities continue, even after RTE.

Amit Rao
Bachelor of Technology
Mechanical Engineering
NITK Surathkal

On Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 11:51 AM, Rupesh Gesota wrote:

We will NEVER give Nor allow the parents of our children to give any kind of stamp-paper... Its not the issue about rs.50/-  Its about something else !!

And Avishkar knows very well what I am speaking about !  And Amit, I have spoken to you about all this in detail... Most imp. -- you have to sound confident and firm & educated before these 'so called educated' people...  My weakness is I get aggressive on such occasions and this may spoil the show... So if any help needed, plz call me or even Avishkar for this matter...

We will 1st make them realize about all the right practices with examples .. Still if they dare to defy, we will have to stand up !!!


On Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 11:33 AM, Amit Rao wrote:

Hey !

PFA a sample of how the stamp paper document should look. It can be done in english as well. One for primary students and one for balvadi students - marathi medium. The students would be getting all the stationaries only after the completion of this process.

Amit Rao


Friday, July 15, 2011

All Ghansoli children in school now !

Hi Amit,

Good Job !!

All this reminded me some of my experiences when I had taken a gang of about 20 children and their mothers/fathers from diff slum communities in our Airoli based Marathi based Municipal school...Arun too was part of this...Aug 2008....So I do understand, the kind of feelings of satisfaction & achievement that a person might experience during this activity....

Nice Job....But honestly speaking, this is not an achievement actually... Its just a beginning.. Beginning of a challenge !!  Achievement would be to 'retain' these children into the educational system, given their socioeconomic background and our municipal school education environment...If we are able to ensure this, only then we succeed... Or else, there is no much diff between us and government.... (No,, we would still be better than government.. because we did the ground work and got the kids into the school...Ideally, its the govt's job now to ensure their retention...)

I am proud to say that we have pretty much nicely succeeded in this endeavor in Airoli since last 3 years...And this inspiring journey full of ups and downs, smiles and tears,  backed by the support of dedicated and passionate team of volunteers like you, Jyoti Madam, Avishkar, Nilima, Shahenaz, Suman, and even our new enthusiastic volunteers Vibhash and Madhavi Madam can surely pull off much better and efficient outcome in our Ghansoli center now...

All the best for the patchy road ahead !!!  ;-)

I have attached the excel file with this email itself...


On Sat, Jul 16, 2011 at 10:40 PM, Amit Rao <> wrote:

- Hide quoted text -
Hey !

This is less of a report and more of a narration of the admission scenario I faced few days ago.
It was only a week after I joined LEAD foundation at Ghansoli that I met Avishkar. He was to meet Geeta’s and Rajesh’s parents that day so he called me and I tagged along. This was the first time I had been to a shanty and my first time I would be meeting the parents of the children whom I had been meeting and teaching for a week. Avishkar did all the talking. I just smiled and reassured the parents that their kids are doing fine. On the way back Avishkar told me that few students had to be admitted to a school nearby and that this task had been procrastinated since a month now.  We went to the school after that, just to talk to the headmistress (Marathi medium) and  to check on how the kids were doing in the classrooms. She was very supportive and understanding of our kids.

Around 3-4 days after that Avishkar called me up in the evening saying that I had to get 5 kids admitted to the school. He also said that Jyoti Madam would accompany me. I was happy that I would be a part of this crucial task and so I readily agreed. He mailed me the details and a document which had to be filled as a replacement for their birth certificates. Even Rupesh sir messaged in the night regarding the admission of 3 other kids of Hindi medium and explained me the process and wished me luck. After a while Avishkar called and said that Jyoti ma’am was not free and I had to undertake this task myself! Honestly, I had headed few student projects in college but somehow this made me a little nervous, this was a bit different.  This might seem silly but this was the first time I had to get anyone enrolled to a school! The sight of me entering the headmistress’s room with 8 kids and their parents seemed a bit daunting. I discussed this with Avishkar and he told me something that I wasn’t aware of; according to RTE no government school can deny admission to any child, whatever may be the reason. I knew about this but I never thought I would have to use this one day. This definitely boosted my confidence.

Monday. I pack my shoulder bag with photocopies of the document ( satya patra) and a pad and I left for the bastis at Ghansoli. First I went to Deepali and Sheetal’s place. Their father was pretty enthusiastic of his daughters going to school (hopefully it continues), however, he was busy so their mother agreed to come with me to the school, after a bit of coaxing of course. Then I went to Manish’s basti. Same procedure but here his elder brother said he would come. Here I came to know of Maya and Akash (Manish’s siblings) who wanted to join the school as well, and whom I got enrolled the next day. Then I went to Rohit’s house and he was ready with his previous school mark sheet, his sister came with us. This is when I called up Rupesh sir for some reassurance, because seeing their attires and mannerism I was quite sure that any school would not entertain me, even with the RTE, as there are other children in the classroom too who are exposed to our kids and their parents won’t be that understanding. Finally I found Mahima’s mother and she came with us too. Filling the satya patra was a task as well. I never knew I would have to con so many fake birthdays in one day! ;-)  Then we left for the school, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Prathmik Vidyalaya, Koparkairne Sector-2. On the way I told the parents and the children about how to behave in the headmistress’s chamber and what all questions she might ask. As I knocked the door of the headmistress’s chamber I was happy she recognized me and gave me a smile but was quite surprised at the 12 member gang following me!  I told her about the students and their profiles. She spoke to each one of them, consulted two other teachers who were present in the room and decided on which standards to put them. Rohit was probably the only one who had been to a school before for more than 2 years. After that the teachers spoke to the parents and students regarding how they need to come to school and other necessary classroom etiquette ,the headmistress spoke to the parents again and then we left the school premises. I went back to our center (temple) after that I took the usual class for the Hindi medium students.Then a man from the basti behind the temple came and told me that he too wants to get his son Prem admitted to the school. I told him to come the next day as I had to go to the school for Akash and Maya anyway. He showed me where he lives and gave me his phone number.

Tuesday - Rupesh sir called in the morning and told me that Dishendra sir had taken care of admitting the Hindi medium students to the school in the morning and so relieved me of that task. I went back at the same time and went straight to Prem’s house and got him all ready to go to the school. On the way back I went to Akash and Maya’s house and got them all set too. They were a little reluctant initially about the school timings and cost. Manish hadn’t gone to school on his first day! He badly needed a haircut and said he would go the next day (which he didn’t!). After a small pep talk the family agreed and the elder brother came along. When we reached the school but it was the lunch hour so we had to wait for a good 30 minutes outside the school.  When the bell finally rang I went to the headmistress again. She was a little taken aback that I had got more students to her school. She joked if this would turn into a daily affair. This time after the usual admission processes she took down mine and Avishkar’s phone number for just-in-case purposes. But this time I was prepared too. I took a receipt from her with her signature on it, citing the children’s names and the fact that they were admitted to that particular school. So in all, a day well spent.

10 days Post-admission analysis- Most of them are pretty regular to the school. We have given them the necessary stationary required. Manish has gone to school only once. Maya and Akash have been to school thrice! I have spoken to Avishkar regarding this family and something needs to be done. Its not about the school cost, they are just plain indifferent. We will surely work on it, and soon !! 

My experience- I never thought that even by participating in such a small step, would change a child’s life so much. Now, I realize, that he/she has a purpose in life and motivation to do something. At least 5 hours of his/her day would be worthwhile. I am grateful that I could experience this.

I had taken just a few snaps as suggested by Rupesh Sir and this is the link ;-)

Amit Rao
Bachelor of Technology
Mechanical Engineering
NITK Surathkal

LEAD Foundation

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fantastic visit to Anugraha children's home and Clay Workshop at Lavhali

Dear Friends,

Plz find below the wonderful experiences shared by one of our volunteers Ameetha... Special thanks to our beautiful volunteer Geeta for playing the role of typist. ;-) (Ameetha doesn't have PC at her home and so she wrote this essay on a paper & Geeta took the pains for converting it into the digital form for all of us.. Two snaps-links are included within the report... ;-)

Cheers ;)

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: geeta kadam
Date: Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Subject: Fantastic visit to Anugrah and Lavhali
To: Rupesh Gesota

Dear Friends

 I decided on Sat 3'rd July to go with Rupesh to Lavhali Village in Badalapur. I decided to take a car so that we could carry the moulds and nutritional powder for the children. Rupesh always wanted me to visit Anugrah, home for children at Ambernath but that day we decided we will go straight to Lavhali as Rupesh had to return by 3.00 for an imp. meeting; but it seems there was a great pull ;-) As we were passing Ambernath and Anugrah on the way i felt like just dropping in for first 10 min and just see the kids and meet Dr Ila Paul. Rupesh and i decided to do that and when we entered Anugrah Dr Ila met us on way to school.

She asked us to join to join us to visit their school - Anugrah Vidya Mandir with 4-5 classrooms for all grades. I am telling you friends looking at the little kids, I could not resist urge to tell them a story that I had prepared " Chena and Mena". It was a beautiful story with great illustration of the elephant and the pumpkin.

As I narrated the story, the children responded so well, though little, they had so much intellect and enthusiasm and span attention. I taught them concept of beautiful, fat, small big, long short etc. The kids giggled and enjoyed.

I also showed them a colorful pop-up book about beautiful garden, puppies flowers, snails having raced crows catching worms ants carrying leaves dogs burying a bone, frogs swimming, bird feeding her chicks. Oh My God !! Their facial expressions and joy has been captured by Rupesh. Do check the snaps.We were just amazed by their learning zeal.

We then went to the higher classes. there I played a creative games of "Do this" and "Do that" game that got them to shed shyness become alert and focused and have fun.

I also got the boys and girls to conduct the game themselves to instil leadership quality and confidence. Through that game I tried to impart some skills. The students enjoyed and found it refreshing from their academic routine.

After interacting with the students we interacted with Dr.Ila and learned a lot from her about the working of her organization and about her challenges & her strategies. She also told us couple of personal inspirational stories about herself and work that really motivated Rupesh and me. It enriched us. We were there for about two hours so you could imagine how engrossed we were and happy to be there.

After Ambernath, we picked up Subhash Gowarikar sir at Badalapur and proceed to Lavhali with our volunteer Sunita. Subhash sir was going to teach kids clay modelling.

We reached Lavhali at about 2pm and were just surprised to see the now-almost-completed community hall of this village. Rupesh was in high spirits on finding this and then even went full-on voicing out his big dreams for the village kids -- computer center, library, fun-center, etc. He and Sunita zipped away into the village to gather the younger kids and then I showed them the ‘Popup book’. They were very fascinated. Meanwhile, Rupesh had already disappeared out of the village. Wish, he could witness the fun unleashed...

I then got the elder students to handle that book because it needed hand coordination to make the objects move. They were shy but soon couple of them came out and tried and I encouraged them to speak out aloud and they picked up some English verbs like swimming, carrying, feeding eating, flying etc

When Subhash sir’s session of clay modelling started with the kids they made a lot of things out of their imagination and creativity. They focused and were proud to display their creations. They were happy and joyful to create with their hands It was a great learning experience for them. I felt such hands on learning help them to develop life skills that cannot be explained by text book alone.

The girls there at Lavhali would need a lot of interactive activities and learning games to pick up the language.
Sunita and Subhash sir too interacted with the students in Marathi so well and taught their own set of values to the students.

On the whole it was a very soul satisfying awesome day spent. I felt good and peaceful that even it was just a trickle in the ocean I could contribute something.

I look forward contributing more for joyful learning of the kids at the LEAD foundation. Thank you Rupesh and god bless all the volunteers. You guys are doing a stupendous job.

At the clay modelling session there was a boy who made a wonderful mask ( like Alian ), My God! It was so creative. The kid also made hand fists using tools to carve out the shapes.

There was also a child Deepak, I met who was dumb and deaf (Rupesh told me that we are working on his rehabilitation) and he was so excited to create and show it to me. It really touched my heart and I realized Subhash sir’s clay modelling had added a zing to his life.

It is commendable to do these little acts of kindness. Keep it up LEAD!!

Thanks & Regards
Ameetha Singh
LEAD Foundation