India’s 70th Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!

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Leading up to our official celebration of India’s 70th Independence Day, the AIC Education Centre was brimming with excitement and patriotism all of last week. Staff and visitors alike were treated to unofficial concerts and mini performances as classes rehearsed their songs and dances to practice for the big day. Meanwhile, teachers spent time organizing activities like flag-making to gear up for the main event and squeeze in a lesson on Indian history and civics. Read more…

The AIC difference

Little Priya, affectionately known as Piyu, is 3 years old and just completed the year-long playgroup program in April. She will now be starting nursery school in June. Recently, we sat down with her mother to discuss her feelings about AIC, the playgroup program, and the Waghri community with which AIC works.

Priya at playgroup (© Sarah Lauzé Photography)

Priya at playgroup (© Sarah Lauzé Photography)

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A New Beginning and a Fond Goodbye

February was a busy month here at AIC, with a new class being launched and a bittersweet farewell to one of our longtime staff and friends. Madhavi has been with our team for nearly 3 years as the Health Outreach Director, and has been such a blessing during her time here. She is leaving not by choice, but for medical reasons, and wishes to stay connected with the AIC community as much as she can. Madhavi’s last day on site was one filled with a surprise party, many tears, and even more laughter. She stated that, “it is a day I will cherish forever, to see all four aspects of AIC represented in one room, all come together to appreciate and acknowledge the work I have done. I felt such a sense of accomplishment in that moment, to see everyone there together.” 

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Read more…

The Fight for Change

AIC team members had no idea that Thursday, February 18th, would be a particularly eventful day when they prepared to head into work that morning. However, around 8:45, Education Program Director, Bunty received a call from teachers at Krantiveer Lahuji Vastad Salve E-Learning School (a nearby government school where 34 AIC students are enrolled) informing her that several AIC students were believed to have been involved in a theft earlier in the week.

SL-6621Since we are making an active effort to encourage families to take an increased role in their children’s educations, Bunty told the parents of the children in question to head to the school to get more details, and that she would be over shortly to sort things out. Read more…

My Children will be Different

Happy International Day of the Girl Child! As everyone who is familiar with AIC undoubtedly knows, the rights and education of girls are central to the work that we do. Although change is happening slowly within the Waghri and Sikligar communities, women and girls still bear the brunt of inequality, violence, illiteracy, malnutrition, child marriage, and early parenthood.

One such girl is Archana, a student in AIC’s Education Program, who has decided to speak publicly about her experiences fleeing her husband earlier this year.

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Archana in 2008

Archana was a student in AIC’s Education Outreach Program from late 2007 to mid-2012 when her parents covertly arranged her marriage. Read more…

A Child who Reads Becomes an Adult who Thinks

International Literacy Day, according to UNESCO, is a day to celebrate and promote literacy, a “basic human right and fundamental building block for learning as well as a personal empowerment tool.”

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As the underlying themes that underpin our work are the education, cultivation, and empowerment of the next generation of Waghri and Sikligar community members, this occasion is quite significant for us here at AIC. Read more…

The Gift of Water

This spring, our Education Centre received a tremendous gift: clean, pure drinking water. The preciousness of this gift cannot be understated. Reliable water connections are hard to come by in the slum area that is home to our Education Centre, and the water that flows through the government water pipes is of dubious quality and cleanliness.

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Although we had relied on a water filter to provide clean drinking water, Read more…

Au revoir, Claudia!

It hasn’t all been fun and games here in Pune. At the beginning of January, we said a very sad goodbye to Claudia didi. Claudia started her AIC journey in 2010 as a residential program volunteer, then returned last year as director of the Education Outreach Centre. Read more…

More Diwali festivities

Pooja, helping with the rangoli design

More rangoli
Note that almost all of the children are the same height as Sangeeta (or taller!)

Spending time with AIC’s new CEO, Christie Pettitt-Schieber

Tushar, Geeta, Poonam and Santosh

Organizing the CD/movies cupboard

Cleaning out the water filter (no need to call a professional when you’ve got a Tushar in the family!)

  

New Diwali outfits

  

Pooja and Rahul

 

Awww…brotherly love (this probably didn’t end well)

 

Geeta, Poonam and Kajal, looking so…OLD!
Everyone has been enjoying some much-needed time at the Residential house this week!  And of course, Diwali vacation wouldn’t be complete without the activities that have become annual traditions for the AIC family – firecrackers, lights, diya painting, rangoli, getting to pick out a new Diwali outfit (seriously, the children start planning their Diwali outfits six months in advance!), not to mention lots of cleaning, organizing, and some good old fashioned time together as a family.  
More soon from our other programs!

Unsung Heroines

Being a maushi (“aunt,” or, the generic term for the cleaning women/before-school supervisors/kitchen manager/pre-school aides at AIC) at the Education Outreach Centre is certainly not the most…glamorous job imaginable.  


Paru maushi, supervising

Cleaning the centre multiple times a day, food prep and service, maintenance work, hauling water, bathing unruly children, combing lice out of said unruly children’s hair, taking out the trash, washing an endless stream of school uniforms by hand – the AIC maushis are truly the backbone of the program’s day-to-day functioning. 


Laundry, never-ending laundry
Hauling water from the underground tank
Swati maushi

Claudia, Education Program Director, had been looking for an opportunity to show them a little appreciation, and when she heard that a full-scale replica of the Taj Mahal was coming to Pune and would be on display not far from the Education Centre, she decided that a maushi excursion was in order.  


In front of the Taj replica

Having rarely been outside of Yerwada, and certainly never to a world heritage site, seeing the Taj Mahal replica was a rare treat for the group! 


Admiring the details
With Claudia didi

Thank you, Pinchu, Anju, Paru, Rekha, Swati, Chhaya and Sarika maushis for all that you do at AIC!