The Buds to Blossoms Project 2011
Chaulgola Community, Kolkata, India
28th October - 6th November 2011
On 28th October 2011, 18 brave and enthusiastic volunteers travelled to Chaulgola, a small rural village south of Kolkata to build a resource centre for this community. For six straight days they toiled alongside the local community and in this short time completed construction. The handover of the school was a day filled with emotion with the community rejoicing with them on this accomplishment.
Testimonials from the 2011 Project
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"Very rewarding experience, beats lying on a beach! Great fun, craic and comraderie and sense of achievement when it was all over." Barry Flynn
"Thank you so much for an incredible week and making it so easy for us to make a huge difference"
Click here to see a short video of the trip and here to read a daily blog of the 2011 Project
SAMPURNA LOTUS CHILD CENTRE ("SLC Centre"), CHAULGOLA, WEST BENGAL, INDIA
The Chaulgola community has come a long way since we built the SLC Centre last November. The presence of the Lotus Child Builders and their active participation with the entire construction work has motivated the entire community. The community has well and truly taken ownership of the SLC Centre and according to our teachers, the slogan in the community is “when they (that’d be us, the Lotus Child Builders!) can do so much for us why can’t we take a small step and send our children to the SLC Centre”. The community has been embolden by a sense of pride, encouraged and empowered.
The building has withstood the monsoon rains well allowing classes and our programmes to continue during the monsoon season. The SLC Centre is in constant use and has truly become the hub of the community.
The response to the school by the children, parents and the community has been incredible, far exceeding expectations of Lotus Child and our Indian partner, Sampurna. Attendance continues to remain strong nine months after its opening with up to 130 students attending. The teachers and students are motivated toward their common goal of education and the children remain safe within their community satisfying one of the key principals of this project.
The SLC Centre continues to successfully act as a feeder school to the mainstream government schools, educating the children in the community to a level that they can attend government schools, where possible, and a number of students have already been admitted to these schools. Those children who cannot travel the distance to the government schools or where these schools are unable to accommodate them continue to be educated at the SLC Centre.
The SLC Centre has also evolved in line with the needs of the community. In addition to teaching those students who are unable to attend government schools, it is also being used for extra tutorial support for the older students and those attending government schools by providing follow up classes, homework assistance, extra- curricular activities and any guidance the students may need.
It’s not all work and no play! Carefree play and games are a key part of the holistic education we wish to provide for these children. Extra-curricular activities are arranged by the teachers and all the students were treated to an outing to a Carnival in Loreto, Sealdah enjoying a magic show, puppet show, snacks and games.
A typical day at the SLC Centre will see the older students and those enrolled in the government schools attending from 7am – 10am. The younger children and the pre-primary students attend classes from 10.30am-1.30pm. The mothers programme runs 3pm-5pm each day and the tutorial and homework classes run from 6pm-8pm. The entrepreneur programme, training and health camps are also held at the centre.
Adult education programmes
Our programme for mothers in the community is up and running every day at the SLC Centre from 3pm to 5pm. This includes adult literacy classes providing basic reading and writing skills. These programmes also provide awareness of their rights and health practices to improve their lives and the lives of those around them, influencing generations to come.
In addition to the health awareness programmes being run as part of the Adult Education Programme, one of the members of the community is being provided with First Aid and Emergency Medical Services Training and a First Aid Kit to facilitate initial and immediate response to emergencies within the community. The health camps are being introduced to the community gradually. Recently a free medical camp was held at the SLC Centre in association with a Vision Care Hospital with the children being checked by Doctors from a number of different specialities and where necessary being provided with medicines free of charge.
The ultimate aim of the Entrepreneurship Programme is to enable the women of the Chaulgola community to become self sufficient. Not only do these programmes result in rural self employment and reduce migration to the city streets and slums but they also provide the participants with esteem and dignity. Many of the women of the community are already skilled in the production of Shola products (a hindu handicraft of carving a spungy plant matter) and have been provided with training for the development of a community business around this traditional handicraft. Training has also been provided to some of the participants in other traditional handicrafts such as jute (a coarse woven fabric) bag making. The programme also encourages and supports the participation of the women in local and regional exhibitions to display and sell their crafts.
A community empowered
A fundamental principal and objective of this project is the empowerment of the entire community and the creation of a sustainable project. Through the funds you have raised we have been able to provide the community with the training, resources and support to enable it to flourish. With the continued supervision and support of Sampurna and Lotus Child members of the community have been trained as teachers and field workers and have taken responsibility for this project within their community.
Amiya Gayen: Amiya has overall responsibility for the SLC Centre and its teachers. He is responsible for the evaluation of the centre, monitoring and reporting on the attendance of the students and teachers. He also acts as a liaison with the local leaders, attending community meetings and ensuring the SLC Centre is fulfilling the specific needs of the Chaulgola community.
Swapan Kumar Halder: Other than teaching, with the support of Sampurna and Lotus Child Swapan has responsibility for organising the free medical and health camps within the community. Swapan has also been entrusted with providing emergency medical support as and when required by the community and is receiving training in First Aid and Emergency Medical Services to help him deal with emergency situations within the community.
Hira Gayen: Hira has primary responsibility for the Adult Education programme. She is completing a course in Adult Literacy, organised by the State government and she is responsible for maintaining records of attendance and following lesson plans for these classes.
Anuradha Halder: The pre- primary children (aged between 3 and 5 years) are directly under Anuradha’s care. Apart from teaching them using innovative child centered methodologies, with regular lesson plans, she also does home visits to follow up on any drop outs and absenteeism.
Rina Gayen: Rina is responsible for the solar light programme, following training on the solar equipment and repair. The SLC Centre are receiving solar lamps from the Enlighten project sponsored by German Consulate. Each child will have their own solar lamp which will be charged with the Solar panel installed in the centre, at 2 rupees (about 3 cents) per child. These monies will be utilised for maintenance and future requirements.
Anurupa Gayen: She is in charge of the Entrepreneurship programme. She is a skilled Shola artist and active participant at the State and Regional Level Exhibitions. Anurupa also received training in paper bag making and jute work and on training others in her crafts. She has become a trainer and motivator within the community. She has conducted a training programme not only to women within the Chaulgola community but also to women of another remote community - a true example of empowerment…your reach spreads further!
In partnership with Sampurna and the Chaulgola community Lotus Child will continue to ensure the money you raised is effectively and efficiently used to ensure our mutual objectives of prevention, partnership, empowerment and sustainability are achieved.