Summer Program 2015

This summer, Asmat conducted a theme based approach in Soda village with three primary communities to focus on – women, children and farmers. This was done through sensitisation, awareness and teaching sessions on a multitude of aspects and in-depth surveys which would help in streamlining the work of our organisation for future programmes.

 

Children

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Childhood is a period characterized by innocent curiosity and extreme enthusiasm. The children of Soda are a very lively lot who take keen interest in the world around them. Thus, our focus areas this summer with the children were moral education, environmental awareness, English language, and general knowledge. Lessons regarding the same were disseminated through interactive games and activities, with some cases even involving documentary and movie screenings. As a result of the program coinciding with summer vacations in schools, a large number of children on holiday from Malpura, Diggi and Jaipur joined us for the sessions in Soda village.

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Hamlets covered were Gopalpura, Srinagar, Dadgeon ki Dhani, Nayakon ka Teela, Ramjipura, Ganeshpura, Maliyon ki Dhani, Indira Colony and main Soda.

Sessions Conducted:

THEME

ACTIVITIES

REMARKS (additions/ improvisations in individual hamlets)

Introduction

  • Sitting in a circle and exchanging names/ where we are from.

  • Ice breaking games: Simon Says; Big/Small; Antakshari.

Environmental Awareness

  • Nature Walk: The children took the volunteers around to show them their hamlets.

  • Topics discussed by the volunteers during the Walk included their homes, neighbourhood pets, and local trees and flowers.

  • Main Soda: The children often took a couple of volunteers to show them around the village on almost all days.

  • Nayakon ka Teela and Ramjipura: The children conducted very detailed and enthusiastic Walks, signifying keen interest in their surroundings.

General Knowledge

  • Indian states and capitals

  • Continents and oceans with the help of a globe

  • India’s President and Prime Minister

  • Sarpanch Rajawat’s roles and responsibilities

  • Main Soda and Maliyon ki Dhani: Names of India’s neighbouring countries, continents and oceans with the help of rounds of Hangman played after dividing the children into two teams.

  • Main Soda: Names of planets with the help of a short and interactive video; reading the time on a clock and four basic shapes- square, rectangle, circle, triangle with the help of paper cutouts and a game where the children had to name five things that resembled the shapes taught to them.

  • Dagdeon ki Dhani: Taught the children the concept of maps and made them draw one of their own dhani.

English

  • Alphabets (age groups 6-9) with games like Alphabet Association and educational videos.

  • Counting in English (age groups 7-12) with the help of the games Hangman, Find the Number and educational videos.

  • The Fruit Salad song (all age groups)

  • Maliyon ki Dhani: The children couldn’t grasp Twinkle Twinkle Little Star easily so the volunteers taught them a Hindi poem with actions which they picked up very quickly.

  • Ganeshpura: Individual English tutoring sessions with 4 boys in grades 9th and 10th covering tenses.

  • Maliyon ki Dhani and Ganeshpura: Taught them how to write their names and address in English.

  • Main Soda: Two girls attended the session from Indira Colony every evening and the volunteers worked with them on conversational English and Math.

  • Dagdeon Ki Dhani: The children in this Dhani were not at par with the kids in the other dhanis. The level of all the sessions was lowered to suit the kids. The volunteers taught them basic poem in both Hindi and English to teach them more words and increase their grasping power.

Moral Science and General Awareness

  • Stories with morals from the Panchatantra.

  • Health and hygiene sessions: Washing hands, brushing teeth, combing hair, bathing, healthy vs junk food, balanced diet, etc.

  • Sensitivity towards other people like their siblings, classmates, younger children, etc.

  • Maliyon ki Dhani: The children picked up “thank you” once we started thanking them after each session and would always wave us goodbye with choruses of thank yous!

  • Main Soda: Skit performed by the volunteers to teach the children about respect for elders, not troubling the didis and bhaiyyas, punctuality, etc. as the bunch had gotten a little too rowdy.

  • Nayakon ka Teela and Ramjipura: The kids performed skits on topics like ‘One shouldn’t lie’, ‘One shouldn’t be too boastful’, etc.

  • Dagdeon Ki Dhani: The kids and the volunteers performed short skits on topics like ‘respect your elders’, ‘Wash your hands before and after every meal’, etc.

Open Session

The volunteers were free to conduct anything they considered appropriate for the children on the basis of their experience with them.

  • Gopalpura and Srinagar: Role play skits; Eg. the children acted as the Sarpanch who had to solve the various problems that the others came up with.

  • Main Soda: The children watched the movie ‘I Am Kalam’.

  • Maliyon ki Dhani: The children watched MEENA (UNICEF initiative) videos related to child marriage, female education and empowerment, gender stereotypes, saving the girl child, say no to dowry and received the cross questioning posed by volunteers very well. They also watched I Am Kalam.

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Farmers

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Farming, as in other parts of rural India, is the chief occupation in Soda village. However, lack of exposure to entrepreneurial initiatives and prospects of sustainable and natural farming is depriving the farmers of the benefits that their efforts deserve. Asmat aimed to assess the condition and status of farmers and the farming scenario in Soda with an extensive survey.

The volunteers surveyed farmers in all the hamlets of the village. The survey gathered basic information about their land, farming methods, crops grown, awareness about organic farming methods, nearby markets, MSP received, and general comments regarding farming as their major occupation.

 

Hamlet

Number of Farmers Surveyed

Main Soda

59

Maliyon ki Dhani

20

Indira Colony

10

Ganeshpura

08

Srinagar

16

Gopalpura

09

Dagdeon Ki Dhani

11

Naiyakon ka Teela

06

Ramjipura

12

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Women

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Both elder women and adolescent girls of the village haven’t known the kind of exposure that comes with an urban upbringing- while many of us may discuss feminism and gender equality, a lot of rural women are still living with menstrual myths and a subdued, dependent way of life. While there can be a thin line between broadening a person’s perspective and dismissing their beliefs, this summer Asmat aimed to hold healthy discussions with the women and slowly alter the way they look at life day-to-day.

The target group of women was approached in a twofold manner.

THEME

OBJECTIVE

ACTIVITY

REMARKS

Gender Awareness

To provide participants with a better understanding of the attitudes of men and women, to examine notions of the nature, origin, extent and effects of gender, and to develop better understanding of the term gender.

  • This was done through an activity which was built on responses given by the women when they were asked what they believed to be the differences between men and women.

  • A discussion on the nature- culture binary followed.

  • It was heartening to see how some of the women acknowledged that they could do all the work that men could, even more in most cases.

  • In main Soda, a woman explained X and Y chromosomes using the extremely relevant analogy of jowar and bajra seeds!

Menstruation

To explain the functioning of female body and the anatomy behind menstruation, to clarify common myths regarding menstruation, and to impart knowledge regarding how to maintain hygiene.

  • Puberty was discussed, and volunteers explained the biological processes behind menstruation through verbal explanation and diagrams.

  • Myths were dispelled using logical arguments that the women could relate with.

  • The need to use pads was reiterated and a demonstration was given where a pad was compared to a piece of cloth in its soakage capacity.

  • Hygiene practices were also imparted.

  • While most of the adolescent girls used sanitary napkins, many of the elder women stuck with cloths.

  • After our sessions, some of us saw change unfolding before our very eyes- a women asked her husband to get her a very first pack of pads, a young girl sat down at a temple while on her period, and there was a general feeling of relief as the women began to believe that being on one’s period did not mean being ‘dirty’.

Education and Discrimination

To imbibe in participants the inherent need for gender equality, particularly the necessity for females to be self-sufficient and be equipped to earn a living on their own and to reinforce the call for education particularly that of the girl child.

  • The session was conducted with a variety of interactive activities.

  • One such activity involved the volunteers enacting the dissimilar treatment which is expected and received by boys and girls when they are young.

  • Discussions supported by personal experience and examples around the same were held between the volunteers and women.

  • Volunteers shared the examples of their own mothers and grandmothers who had learnt to read and write later in life.

  • Many of the women had stopped their education midway due to various reasons, and we convinced them that it was never too late to pick it up again if they wished.

  • Most girls were enrolled in schools, but many families didn’t see the point of pushing for higher education.

Female Leaders and Entrepreneurs

To clarify the reality of female capability by providing participants with relevant case studies of women from rural backgrounds who have moved to launch successful enterprises and/or have become frontrunners in their respective spheres.

  • Singular cases of female leaders and entrepreneurs were discussed, and short documentaries were shown.

  • On a closer tangent, female volunteers also shared their personal experiences on striving for independence and equality in society.

  • Stories of women who started enterprises on their own, such as Lijjat papad and others from villages, opened up their thinking and convinced them that it was really never too late to do something for oneself.

  • Sarpanch Rajawat was a prime example of female leadership to be cited.

  • We also spoke about other female Sarpanchs who had abolished practices such as wearing of the gunghat.

  1. Sessions:

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Firstly, awareness and sensitisation sessions with the women and adolescent girls were conducted by the volunteers in eleven locations in the village namely Main Soda, Holikoot, Indra Colony, Ganeshpura, Maliyon ki Dhani, Rajendar Nagar, Srinagar, Gopalpura, Dagdeon Ki Dhani, Nayako Ka Teela, and Ramjipura.

To gain a receptive audience and break the ice between the volunteers and the Soda females, a foundational session was initiated.

11722243_662639880534332_9070336628643429979_o When a rapport was established, the bonding was unlike anything that could have been imagined. We were entrenched in their lives and struggles as we visited them in their homes every day. There was laughter and tears on both ends, and there was mutual give and take of ideas and values and above all, there was receptiveness and sensitivity on both ends. Our core gender sessions were held as follows:

Impromptu activities did pan out, as is always the case when we start working on-field.

  • The volunteers gave a demonstration on making one’s own sanitary pads out of cloth and cotton for the lighters days of menstruation.

  • Family planning was also brought up in some hamlets and contraceptive methods were discussed.

  • A career awareness session was also held under education, wherein with the help of the volunteers, the girls noted down the names of various entrance exams, deadlines, degrees, and the preparation required in the main Soda area.

2. Surveys

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Secondly, in-depth surveys were conducted to gauge the inclination and skills of the Soda women in order to help us to narrow down on a possible entrepreneurial project which would be well suited to their capabilities and also be feasible in the long run. The survey consisted of questions on the following themes:

  • Childhood

  • Education and skill

  • Work

  • Family

  • Aspirations

These surveys were held in every hamlet of the village and a total number of 152 women were surveyed.

Hamlet

Number of Women Surveyed

Dagdeon Ki Dhani

07

Srinagar

34

Gopalpura

19

Ramjipura

19

Nayakon Ka Tila

07

Ganeshpura

21

Holikoot

22

Indra Colony

07

Maliyon Ki Dhani

16