Our day began with a visit to the marginalised community which was an experience of hope despite the horrific surroundings.The sights and smells of the conditions in which these people live in the 21st century is profoundly shocking. Yet there is no clearer place to see how education can make the difference for the lives of children. As we walked the mud–clad streets, with the pigs in the gutters and the sewage and detritus seeping through our flip flops, we gagged and despaired inside. We passed the children who don’t go to school. They stand forlorn with hair matted, scantily clad and empty eyes. They are unable to communicate.
We turned a corner and all of sudden the pied piper of SNEHA, Nadesh was surrounded by smiling, happy children with their hairs combed, their shoulders held high, greeting us with cheers, ‘The Saphara people are here, come and see!’ On Saturday, we had met with the head of TearFund in India and he shared with us the plight of many children who are trafficked or sold into forced labour. When they disappear, nobody even asks ‘Where have all the children gone?’ In contrast, in this marginalised community, all the SNEHA children appeared and talked enthusiastically about their love of school and their aspirations for the future. The work of SNEHA through its partnership with Saphara is ensuring these children don’t increase the statistics of forgotten children.
With it being a Hindu Holy Day, all the children were off school and their parents were off work. Many were dressed in colourful Indian dress and we had the delight of seeing the Sally of Govindgahr meet the Sally of Fortwilliam. Her exuberance was infectious despite her challenging circumstances and we were all invited to lunch.
When the rest of Dehradun were off on holiday, the staff of SNEHA, Kaplani and Donk engaged in personal and professional development. They considered how each of them are special with their skills and qualities reflected in lotus flowers, peacock feathers, handprints and hearts contrasting with negative messages that make us wilt, hide away, keep us enchained or break our hearts. We provided a range of workshops on the importance of plan, do and review as a process, different ways to reward pupils, characteristics of effective learning, active learning strategies and leadership skills. The quality of interaction with the teachers was excellent and their questions were profound and insightful. We celebrated all the learning and reviewed the day with one of the teachers stating, ‘God has been here today and I see God in all of you’. What a way to end a staff development day!Posted in Principals Trip 2015
on Tuesday 17 February 2015