Thursday, September 2, 2010

One International

I participated in my first volunteer position in the community at One International Wednesday morning. This agency was started by a Canadian, who came up with funds for a school in the Khar fishing village. It's located about a 30 minute walk or 5 minute rickshaw ride from my flat. I joined a parent group from ASB, who volunteered here last year. We all met up at the woman's flat who organized it all. A funny story of me trying to find her apartment! She had given me some directions to the area her flat was located, close to my favorite cupcake shop, Butterfly. I got myself there. Then, I looked up and wandered to some taller high rises. I asked the guards where her building was and they pointed to the building next door. I showed the guards at that building the address I had written down, they nodded and pointed to the elevator. I went up to the flat number I had wrote down and rung the bell. There were two doors, the main door and then the helps' door. The latter opened first and then she went around inside and the main door opened. "Ali?"I asked. The woman said, "no," in a heavy French accent. She thought I might be in the wrong wing and was very nice about the intrusion. I went downstairs and tried to find another wing, but couldn't. I called the woman up and she gave me walking directions from Butterfly. I was way off. Ha! Oh, well.

Four of us walked over to One International, which is a school that serves very impoverished children. They don't have a home, at least one that has an address, so they aren't able to get proper papers to get into a school. When we crossed a main road, we entered into a very different neighborhood from Bandra. The streets were narrow and blocked in by buildings on both sides. The people were much poorer, but still vibrantly dressed. We meandered through the maze to a door along an even narrower alleyway, enough for one person or two facing each other. We were told to go around front. The front opened into a dimly lighted room with many happy children clamoring over the two volunteers they already knew. They came up to me, shook my hand, said their name and asked for mine. They were wonderful. The students were finishing up their TV break then we were hearded up with them to the 5th form class. The room was no bigger than a walk-in closet and the floors and walls were a bit dirty, though I was told the rain had settled the dust that is usually milling around in the air. The upstairs was a maze of adjoining rooms of similar size, in which different classes were held. We had about 30 minutes to go over an English lesson. There were three students and four of us, which was nice to give them one on one attention. The three of them, about age 8, knew their alphabet well. So we worked on writing words for each letter and a puzzle to make three letter words. After our time was up, we moved on to 2/3 form class, 5-6 year olds. In this class we sang several songs, learned how to introduce ourselves and ask each others' names, the alphabet, and identifying colors. I worked with a little guy, Mela, who I helped teach how to write his name and worked on the alphabet. We used play dough to talk about colors and spell out our names.

All the children have boxes that double as a chair and storage for their belongings. Their names are painted on the box that belong to them. Many of them were very proud to show the work they have already done in their notebooks.

It was a wonderful experience and I'm excited to do this each Wednesday morning. I'm also eager to look for some of my own materials to bring to help the students. Learning English can help these children move up in the job market as it is a valuable skill and just being in the school helps these kids emotionally and physically. The school provides them with meals, which they might otherwise not receive. The four of us are hoping to move the kids from being able to repeat letters and the alphabet to applying their knowledge to have a grasp of English. We'll see how it goes!

1 comment:

  1. Twyla - what a fantastic experience and great that you can provide continuity by returning each week. At our org we use materials through the Curriculum Project for English teaching, as they were developed specifically for underprivaledged children from Asia (ie, topics & activities that are relevant to them and culturally sensitive). This was written specifically for Burmese children, but you might be able to find something useful, as your students progress from alphabet and such....
    -under "downloads"