Through the American Women’s Association (AWA) Outreach Group which I have become involved in, our family was given an opportunity to join three other families last Saturday afternoon to volunteer at the NGO, Nai Disha.
This organization began with some professionals wanting to start a preschool for the upper and middle class families in the area. As they were trying to market their business, they were approached by many poor families wanting a preschool for their children. It was not long thereafter that these founders realized what the real need of the area was and they closed down their business and reopened as an NGO (a non-profit organization) to provide supplemental education to those families with a great need. Nai Disha has about160 children that they serve ages 9-16. These children attend the government schools here which is a half day schedule Monday thru Saturday. Half of the children attend morning, the other half afternoon. During the half of the day that they are not in school, they are at Nai Disha. It is here where they really learn. Nai Disha teachers sit with the children and help them learn and understand the concepts and help them with their homework. The government schools are not a place of great learning. Those families that can afford it do not send their children to government schools. These children come from the families where their parents are the drivers, the cooks, the maids, etc. which are professions where they are away from home until late at night. The women who run the organization listen to the children and their needs. They had enough children wanting to help their own families where alcohol has taken over, that they have created a class on Saturdays where about 10-15 children attend. It is similar to an Alcoholics Anonymous group and the children learn to cope with an alcoholic parent or even some of the older children have found it becoming a problem in their own lives.
We had 4 different stations as a group. Three of the groups taught simple science experiments such as catapults, levers and inclines and slopes. The children were given opportunities in these groups to do “hands on” learning which they do not get at all in school. For example, the catapult group made newspaper catapults. Our family was given the “game room” assignment.
The purpose was to give the children a chance to practice their English and learn through games. We brought very simple games from home — UNO, Candyland, Zingo, Blokus, Charades, Spot It. Most of these children have not had many opportunities to even play a game. We had each group for 30 minutes and we had fun. It was a little crazy because we were down two family members — Conner had soccer practice at the high school and Thomas had been leaning over the toilet all morning sick from something he had eaten the day before.
At the conclusion of our two hours there, we watched the closing routine where they gather in the courtyard and do some simple yoga-like poses to end their day. The children were so friendly and nice to us.
Tyler wanted to show up with some type of treat for them, so on our way over we stopped at an Indian sweet store and purchased a treat for each of them that we distributed as they left that afternoon. In the picture below, you can see Hailey and Tyler giving them away. Education is the key to changing these children’s futures. Nai Disha is a very well run organization that encourages these children to stay in school, work hard to pass the exams each year and provides a safe haven for several hours each day.