Here he is post-surgery, rocking some very stylish protective glasses while his eye heals! We are happy to report that he is doing quite well after a two-week hiatus from school and tutoring (straining his eye during the recovery period could have led to irreversible damage), during which he continued to receive nutritional supplementation like milk and eggs from the Education Outreach Centre. (Many of AIC’s students, like Arjun, face daily food insecurity at home, and truly suffer when the Education Centre is closed or they are unable to attend.)
Arjun’s family is extremely grateful that the surgery was successful and is finally over. As for Arjun, well…Arjun blows bashful kisses and looks like a rockstar in his glasses. And that’s thanks enough for us. 🙂
Happy almost-weekend from AIC!
However, this back-to-school transition was different from all previous years, as the children were headed to a different school – a boarding school on the outskirts of the city, about 20 minutes from the Residential house.The decision was made to shift them to nearby boarding facilities as a temporary response to reports of government changes in residential institution licensure and registration regulations. Although this action was pre-emptive, we feel that it was the best way to ensure minimal disruption to the children’s educations, while giving our organization the opportunity to continue to investigate proposed/pending regulation changes and pursue compliance in conjunction with independent trust registration.
|Ashwini, Jyoti, Pooja and Geeta with their new friends|
Whether this arrangement will be a temporary placement or a longer-term restructuring of the Residential Program set-up is still being decided and we will continue to evaluate all possible options that are available to best meet the needs of the children. As always, our absolute highest priorities are the security, stability, happiness and overall wellbeing of the little family known as the AIC Residential Program.
|Hanging out at the new school campus|
The children are adjusting well to their new school and dorms, though they miss the AIC home and family unit. Recently back home for the 5-day Ganesh Chaturthi holiday, they were brimming with stories from their new school – moaning and groaning about bland food and early morning wake-up calls alongside tales of state level athletic competitions, cultural excursions, new friends and extracurricular activities such as horseback riding, drumming in the school band and lots more. It has been a major change, but everyone is adapting, learning, changing and growing as we make the most of the new situation.
After summer holidays in April and May, School began again in June, and the Education Outreach Centre is as busy as ever these days, particularly as the 34 new students enrolled in the program during admissions week in April continue to adjust to their new schedule and routine. In June, 10th standard Board exam results were announced and everyone was thrilled to learn that our little class of 10th standard Education Outreach students beat the odds with a pass rate of 100%! This was particularly exciting for us because last year was the first year that we decided to forgo sponsoring external tutoring classes for this group, and created our own in-house 10th standard tutoring program instead. These students have since moved on to college (11th standard) with AIC’s support.
|School supplies, waiting for distribution|
|Aman, being measured for his uniform|
In October, six members of the teaching staff attended the much-anticipated inspirED 2012 conference in Pune, a coming-together of visionaries, professionals, government actors and educators committed to the transformation of education in India. The conference was hosted by Teach for India and even included a featured session by Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America. It was truly an inspirational event for the AIC teachers, who returned from the workshop invigorated and ready to bring about change in the field of education. We can’t wait to see how they put to use what they learned in their own classrooms at AIC!
Rashmi is already dreaming of one day being able to hire an in-house doctor to treat our patients and cut costs, as well as completing the construction of a large open lecture/class hall on the first floor of the new building, funding permitting.
|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|
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!
|Arjun (in red) and his new friends at the AIC Education Outreach Centre|
Arjun’s parents are masala (spice) sellers from the Waghri community, earning about 2,000 rupees ($40) per month to support him and his four older siblings. Last year, his oldest brother Umesh was the only one in his family who was granted admission into the AIC Education Outreach Program, due to limited space. Umesh worked hard as a 10th standard student, and, with the guidance and support of his teachers at AIC, has now graduated from secondary school and moved on to college (11th standard). This spring, his four younger siblings, including Arjun, were excited to be offered spots in the Education Outreach Program as well.
Shortly after his admission into the program, it quickly became apparent that Arjun has a problem with his right eye, and after some initial medical investigation, we scheduled a cataract surgery to correct the condition. As is often the case in these particular slum communities, Arjun had never previously attended school at the time of his enrollment in the Education Outreach Program. This means that in the span of three months, he started school for the first time (1st standard, English-medium), began attending the AIC Education Outreach Program for daily meals and tutoring, and – last but definitely not least – will be having cataract surgery later this week!
It has truly been a busy three months for this little guy, and we can’t wait to see how he continues to grow and develop once his eyesight improves and he settles into his new school and tutoring routine!
Today, September 5th, was Teachers’ Day in India, so we wanted to take a minute to celebrate the hard-working staff (teachers, caregivers, social workers and support staff alike) at the AIC Education Outreach Centre. We are fortunate to have a group of truly dedicated men and women working together day in and day out to help us provide high quality educational opportunities to the children in the Education Outreach Program.
It’s that time of year again! After a 2 month break from school (mid-April through mid-June), all of the children at the Education Outreach Centre are now back in school. To ensure that they didn’t forget everything they learned last year (and since so many kids rely on AIC for their meals and medical treatment), we only gave them a 2 week holiday at the Centre. So despite the fact that school was on break until mid-June, the AIC Education Outreach kids spent the month of May attending their daily tutoring classes.
While it is hard to leave so many names on the waiting list, we at AIC have to be realistic about our ability to offer the highest quality of education and care to those in our Education Outreach Program, and must make admissions decisions based on that ultimate goal. Furthermore, even though we moved into a new (bigger) building just one year ago, space continues to be a limiting factor for the program, and classes run non-stop from 7am until 8pm every day to maximize our use of the facilities!
|Poonam at the “painting party”|
|Home visits to confirm new students’ admissions|
With more than a month of tutoring and preparatory studies under their belts, the AIC students were excited to go back to school in the middle of June. They have received all of their school supplies and books and are now being outfitted for new uniforms, school bags and everything else that they need to get off to the best possible start to the new year.
|Happy to be back at the Education Centre!|