Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Project Green Book- Week 8

This blog was written by Sarath S P.

I woke up early in the morning at 5 on August 7 2011 (Sunday) cursing myself. Sunday is my favorite day of the week just for the only reason that i could sleep till 12 ‘o’ clock. But today i have nominated myself for an Outreach program which hindered with my most enjoyable part of the week. I snoozed the alarm twice and at last got out of bed at 5.45.I got ready in half an hour. By the time my friend Aby was waiting for me. We rushed to MMC where joined my teammate Anand.

Anand was the person who told me about the program and he had already gone to the school once. We met the WWs coordinator Kiran and collected the books from him. Then I, Aby and Anand started our journey to Topslip in a white Tata Indica Cab. I was a bit excited as well as afraid. I had no previous experience of teaching kids and i was not sure what I will do there, this made me worried.The way in which I spoke Tamil added to my worries. I was also excited because i am visiting a new place which I heard is very beautiful.

Our Team

We reached Sethumadai at 9.30 where we met Mr. Sabhapathy WWS joint secretary who joined us in our further journey. He told me that he is a regular visitor of Topslip for the past 20 years. He also complained that he had not sighted a single tiger for all these time even if it is a tiger reserve. We reached the school at about 10.30 a.m. We met the new Range Officer. He informed us that most of the students are sick, have left for their homes and will come back only on Monday. We decided to spend time with the students who were present there. There were sixteen students in total and a classroom was opened for us. All the students assembled in the class. They were of different ages.  Some studied in second standard some in third some in fifth etc. But they were all very happy to see us. Sabhapathy was a familiar figure for them. He was a regular visitor to this school and was doing many things to improve the conditions of that school. I was inspired by his efforts. He greeted the children and they greeted us back. Then we invited the new range officer to start distributing the books.
Range officer distributing the books
We handed over a book to each of them. They were all delighted in getting a new book which made me think of my childhood days. I had everything that i wanted new books, new pen ,new pencil and never i was so excited about those, but always asking for those that I don’t have. But here these children are now so happy that they are getting a new book .I appreciated in my mind the effort That CTS and WWS put together for this noble purpose .Their happy faces showed how eager they waited for each visit to see all these new faces and to learn something more.  Some kids in the front row called me and asked "Anna unka peru enne?”. I told them my name and asked them whether they know the names of people who visited before. I was surprised when they started saying names of people who visited them last week. This showed how much they loved these visits.
Our team member Aby distributing books

After distributing the books Anand started taking some basic mathematics for them. I realized how good a teacher Anand was .He was able to get the minds of children very fast. Soon he started becoming their favorite teacher. With his extreme patience and care for the children he taught some basic mathematics. I was amazed by the way with which he was teaching them.Then we conducted a small quiz by dividing them into two groups.  We asked them to name a cricket player where all of them told 'Sachin '. This lasted for one hour. slowly I began to realize that language was not a great problem in communicating with them. I spoke to them with whatever Tamil I know and they spoke to me like a person whom they know for ages

Study Time, Anand teaching the kids
Then they told we will play some games. We joined them .Our team member Anand soon become one among them. I saw him being like a kid when he played with them, laughing making expressions. We all returned to our childhood days in each and every minute that we spend with them. By then it was time for their lunch but none was willing to go. They told they will go around 3 ‘o’ clock or even after that, All they wanted was to stay with us and make them a part of our life for some time. We played some songs for us in my laptop and asked them to dance . Initially they were shy but soon they come up and did some beautiful steps when Anand Aby offered them a chocolate . They were imitating the steps of Dhanush and were dancing so well to the steps of ‘Aadukalam.’
Back to Childhood days
 By now it was getting late for them as well as us. We asked them to go for lunch. Without full mind they went. By the time we did some discussions, took the remaining books to store room, and was about to close the room they came back. We told them that we ll come next week and said goodbyes to them. At about 4 we started our journey back. Sabhapathy bid Goodbye to us at Sethumadai. I told him that I will never forget this experience in my life and I was so pleased to meet him. On my way back from there I again started thinking about the kids. Yes we have so much but we still complain about what we don’t have. They have very little yet they are very happy with whatever they have.
I regretted for cursing the day in the morning. I decided I will go to the school again if I get a chance; this is something good that I can do for myself and my society.
We can do no great things, only small things with great love...

Project Green Book- Week 7

On 9th of July 2011, a fine Saturday morning at around 7am we started on this trip to Topslip from Coimbatore. Two days prior to the journey I was asked to join the team. Initially I hesitated as I had to spare my plans with my family but later the coordinator briefed me about the trip and the specialty of it. As it was associated with kids and social responsibility I was ready for it. If I hadn’t accepected his invite, there is no wonder that I would have missed an awesomely beautiful weekend.

We were racing through the highways and I was eagerly waiting to know about my cousins counseling results. I received a message from him that he got admission in his dream college, which was the last time I used my phone and we were phone free for the next two days, probably due to the signal strength there. It gave us a bright new start to the journey, helped us orient ourselves more with the scenic there and we enjoyed our journey getting ourselves prepared for our mission to motivate the younger minds, inspire them and help them dream big. Our journey through the woods lasted around two hours which gave us a refreshing break. Finally we reached our destination "TOPSLIP".

 We were four of us Ashwin, Kiran,Tamilarasan and I (Kaushik). Kiran was the organizer who invited us for the trip and he had a better reception from all the little ones, which we envied a bit in the beginning and was very curious to know why? But as time passed on all the little ones started getting along very well with us too. Later we learnt that Kiran had an upper hand because he visits them regularly and he had organized a similar visit the previous week too. We had a touch of compassion, a heart throbbing happiness something which we don’t experience every day.

We had a great beginning we started by introducing and getting ourselves introduced which also gave us a power packed refreshment after our journey. We learnt about their daily routine, their educational curriculum and the major role that CTS plays in their life. We felt really proud on being a part of such a wonderful organization which attends to its social responsibilities equally. With that bright start we focused on our agenda, we began with a general knowledge and motivational class which lasted for around two hours from 11am, we helped them imbibe the importance of general knowledge and their duties to keep themselves updated.

After an hour of lunch, we screened the footage of the movie ‘Taare Zameen Par’ with our own Tamil translation. We emphasized on the importance of being kind, being unique and excelling in education which was a playback of the motivation. We then addressed them about the importance of communication through English, playing a vital role in day to day’s life. We encouraged them to develop the    habit of communication through English.
Then we broke for tea after which we engaged ourselves in keeping the environment clean aspects. We enlightened them about global warming, air pollution and soil biodegradability. We also appreciated them on their part in keeping top slip clean and pollution free.

Then came the most entertaining part of all, the screening of a tamil movie. It was real fun when we asked the kid’s choice, with no surprise all girls voted for Paiya and boys for Singam. The slight higher attendance of girls made us all watch the romance of Karthi and Tamannaah. The movie lasted till 9:30pm and in between which we had our dinner with the kids. At the end of the day, we all retired to our beds with a great satisfaction and plans for the Sunday.
Sunrise at hill stations are really beautiful, it looks completely green everywhere we turn around, especially the little droplets of dew in the green grass blades when touched gives us happiness like bliss. So was the beginning of the second day, we enjoyed the coldness in the air, we also got a chance to inspect around the school’s kitchen and the other facilities. After a steaming bath and a hot breakfast we started our day with an early morning journey to Parambikulam. It was a real beauty to see the reflection of the huge Western ghats on a silent undisturbed lake. The journey covered various places through the forest and they were all awesome. This was the only time during the trip, we parted the kids to enjoy the nature.
After around 3 hours, we were back to address the kids about the importance of unity and coordination. We spoke to them on the importance of team work and how it works in planning and organizing things. We taught them how to plan up their daily work. The importance of time management and planning which would help them survive any hardship. We also spoke about the examples on self-confidence, motivation, determination and the spirit of leadership which will make them great personalities of tomorrow. We didn’t want to keep them bored so we kept narrating short stories then and there.
Then it was learning time for us. The kids really have lots of fun in store. I have never played such games even in my childhood. The last 2 hours was like PT period of my primary school. Except that we were not asked to do the exercises 1, 2, 3, etc., After all of the mutual sharing we bid adieu to the future of India with a snap to remember.
Things that I personally learned from those little ones were lessons for my lifetime. Their interest in learning new things were amazing, their way of sharing whatever that was given, adaptation to the difficulties, narrowing down their requirements and still excelling in their tasks were honestly great lessons. After all these we had to start on our journey back with a heavy heart. The two days were beyond awesomeness in my life, gave me a new energy to work and a great experience.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kick the habit! Towards lesser usage of plastics

Plastics indeed are a wonder material. We use it for almost everything. Unfortunately it is the most harmful trash because it does not readily breakdown in nature. In fact, the plastic that goes over the side today may still be around in hundreds of years to foul up the beaches of future generations. Careless disposal of plastics can have dire consequences. When plastic is burned, it has its own disadvantages. The only way to overcome the deadly and lasting danger of plastic pollution is to cut down the use of plastic, if possible avoid it altogether.
This World Environment Day (WED), Wild Wing Society along with Cognizant Go Green organized a three day plastic campaign at different Cognizant facilities in Chennai. The main purpose of this campaign was to create awareness among the associates about the adverse effects of plastic bags on the environment and provide ways for people to make a difference- reduce, reuse, recycle! Our short term goal is to reduce, reuse, and recycle but in the long run hope to achieve a zero waste policy.

Collection boxes and bins were kept at a common entrance point in all locations where the associates dropped the plastic wastes.

A register was kept for entering their personal details and contributions.

WWS extends its heartfelt thanks to all the associates for their participation in  the campaign.
  •  Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide.
  • Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
  • On land, many cows, goats and other animals suffer a similar fate to marine life when they accidentally ingest plastic bags while foraging for food.
  • Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways.
  • In 1999, 14 million trees were cut to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans that year alone.
  • When retailers give away free bags, their costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
·    Each high-quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a $.05 or $.10 (USD) credit per bag for bringing your own bags
So, next time you do the shopping and carry home the things in a plastic carry bag, think and realize that you are contributing your share to a deadly plastic pollution.  There is only one planet, to care and share.
Help clean up the mess!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Project Green Book- Week 1

The spread of education among the weaker sections of our society is vital as education is a prime requisite for socio-economic development. A gap has emerged between the educated elites and the tribal people.

To bridge this gap, “Wild Wing Society” (WWS), a grass- roots group, was formed in the year 2009. With a passion to help the needy and aim to protect our Mother Earth, WWS has carried out various activities which include creating awareness on education, afforestation and tiger conservation among rural areas and distribution of solar lanterns among 100 families in a remote tribal hamlet of Malliamman Durgam in the district of Erode, Tamil Nadu.

Backed up by the enormous credits and encouragement received ,WWS has now taken up the project “Green Books” in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve which completely focuses on tribal education. To put the tribal students on an equal footing with the non-tribal, WWS has adopted a tribal school at Topslip. In the first phase, every weekend (from March 5, 2011- May 8, 2011) WWS volunteers will conduct teaching sessions in the topslip tribal school to improve the educational status of the children. They (5 volunteers + 1 WWS coordinator) travel from Coimbatore to topslip every Saturday morning and engage the tribal children with various assigned tasks for their development. On Sunday, volunteers either spend the day with tribal children or go on treks, wildlife safaris availed by forest department in topslip and return back to Coimbatore by Sunday evening. The first phase of this project was successfully initiated on March 5, 2011 with the help of 5 new volunteers of WWS who were directly involved in this mission and 5 volunteers who were indirectly involved, with various supports from the help of local WWS members in Pollachi which includes scientists and organic farmers.

The present scenario at the tribal school is as seen below

Water is the elixir of life.

As our first activity, on March 5, 2011, three RO Water purification plant were installed at Topslip tribal school, hostel and Parambikulam tribal hostel respectively .Topslip tribal school is the only school for 7 tribal hamlets inside the core zone of tiger reserve and the children studying in the school are very much prone to diseases caused due to high fluoride content in the water which the drink. Being a residential school, children will be able to access potable water which will sustain their health. Arrangements have also been made to use the same water for cooking purpose. The volunteers also conducted a complete survey on the status of education of tribal children with various parameters and created a profile of 30 students with the details of all the skills and education they have. A meeting with Mr. Vijayananad IFS (Field Director- Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary) was also held to discuss on activities in Parambikulam tribal school.

Our Volunteer with tribal kids

Only by providing better communication facilities, teaching materials and methods we can hope to bring about an attitude change in the tribal population towards education. Otherwise in the present state of affairs, the dream about tribal education would always remain a dream.

Join hands with us to make this dream come true.

Project Green Book- Week 2

March 12,2011(Saturday)

Top slip is a favorite tourist destination that is at a 3.5 hours drive from Coimbatore. But the WWS team was there on the Saturday evening for a different reason. A team of five people from WWS reached Top slip tribal school at 5 PM, met the students and staff of the school and had a discussion about engaging the students in different events for the following Sunday.

March 13,2011(Sunday)

At 9:30 AM, WWS reached the school. The students had their breakfast and were expecting the team. We were amazed at the students’ enthusiasm to come to school on a Sunday. We had kept our expectation low because we were visiting a school at a remote location where schooling was not considered as an essential part. But we were surprised at the increase in strength to the last time we visited the school!.

Our team got introduced and chitchatted with the students for a few minutes. We started off with screening a documentary video - THE PLANET, that ran for 30 minutes.

                                                      Screening of the documentary

Following it we made a statistical report on 46 students who were absent last week, the report included their name, name and occupation of their parents, goals, handwriting, reading ability in Tamil and English. One first standard kid said his dream was to become conservator of forests and many kids had their own dreams of becoming Collector (IAS officer is what they meant), Doctor n so on.At that moment whatever doubts we had vanished and we were determined to do all it takes to assist them in making their dreams true. This report would help to improve the educational status of the children.

                                          Our volunteer making the statistical report

Following it, we screened funny animal videos for 20 minutes and the kids enjoyed the videos.

After lunch, kids who were interested in dancing and singing performed 8 solo dances and 2 children drew beautiful picture of Goddess Saraswathi and sceneries. It was an incredible sight to watch a kid who has the talent of walking with his hand!

Our team then discussed with the students and teachers about their requirements for school and hostel, sports facilities,etc. When we left the school by 6:00 PM the students and the staff there told us it was a memorable day for them and so for us. This is the second activity from the WWS’s Green Book project.

We need all your support and encouragement to go-ahead and help these children find a better way to live. Join hands with us, let us make a difference.

Project Green Book- Week 3

My mind was kind of occupied than usual when I was nearing Pollachi in the bus on Saturday morning. I wanted to make one thing for sure, when I leave Topslip by Sunday evening, the imprints that our team was going to leave behind in the school should be fulfilling to us. May be the imprint is not a tree, but atleast a seed and a few drops of water to it.
Met Karthik, Aruna and Haritha for the first time, accompanied by Sekar. We were all strangers to each other but the ice was broken in few minutes, thanks to our common intention for the trip.

 A camp elephant welcomed us to Topslip by noon.
“Its time, we go straight to the school, no checking in to the dormitory now!” claimed Velavan, one of the finest teachers to my knowledge, whom I took with our team and Manoj,one of our good friends ,who works with the Education department.
But we settled down and walked towards the school in few minutes.
“Are you like the people who came last week?” asked  Shivanesh, one of the toppers in the school, from Std 6.
“Oh ya.. how many of you are there?”
“A lots.. wait I’ll go get the classroom keys” Shivanesh ran away. He was not actually running, but jumping and moving with joy.
Smile was the only answer from most of the girls, on what ever we asked.
“heyy vaanga vaanga vaanga..” howled one little girl on the ground, pulling in people to the classroom. Vow, what a way to communicate, no mailing, no pinging, just a shout, and they are all there.

      One of our volunteer interacting with the students

We came to know that few of the kids in the lower grade were struggling in counting numbers, in English, just one to ten. We started off with a song, one little stanza for every number up to ten. Not just singing but dancing for every English word they pronounced. They were told about meaning of each and every word.
“Five is Sky.. skyalaka skyalaka skyalaka sky”, the plesant noise hit the whole class. The way each and every kid sprouted out, opened up themselves and sang and dance was worth the watch a thousand time

  A session on English

 After a bit of some more classroom work, we hit the ground for seven stones. We couldn’t match their energy level, while we were gasping after a game, one of them smiled on us and his look said “How about one more round?”.
“Sorry buddy, we are done!”

    Kids enjoying after a classroom session

The next day started with the Mathematics session. A 7th std kid was struggling on a basic two digit addition. At a point I realized, temporary workshops like these will help them in the short run. Let us all come up with a well planned structure, a plan based on their current level of exposure, which would make a sustainable impact on their lives.

 Enthusiastic responses

Visiting them every week would certainly help them in a way, but we are capable of touching their lives even deeper and stronger. Ain’t we?
Separate session went on for girls, about basic hygiene, and the good touch and bad touch. A lot of myths were cleared. Courtesy: Haritha and Aruna
Kids asked our signatures on their notebooks!! Truly embarrassing for me but such a joy.

Looking forward to strengthening ourselves in the way we approach the project. Let’s make a sustainable impact on their lives. We owe those kids a lot; they are making us to introspect

Project Green Book- Week 4

I started for the trip to Topslip on March 26, 2011(Saturday) along with my batch mates Illakiya, Gangai, Vinoth and Anand (a new friend through this trip) and WWS coordinator, Kiran, with a vague mind just to spend my weekend in a fruitful way.
We reached Topslip at 12 noon, refreshed and reached the school within ten minutes. Initially, we started getting introduction from the students.

Our Team

First thing which made me feel proud to join this trip was because of the response from a kid when I enquired whether we were disturbing them to attend the classes even on Saturday & Sunday (blessed holidays for us!!)  The response was- “We don’t find any difference between holidays and other days. We enjoy and eagerly wait for you to visit and make us engaged by dancing, singing, playing and teach us new things”.
After the introduction, we divided the kids class-wise and started to teach them Mathematics (division). Our friends from WWS who had visited last week made our work easy, as they had taught them the basics of addition and subtraction. The kids showed a lot of interest to learn and responded very well, which encouraged us to teach them more. I realized that teaching is not very easy(I salute my kindergarten teachers!)

One of our volunteers teaching the kids

By now the kids had multiplied their energy too. We stopped the Mathematics session at 4pm and screened a movie (Kavalan) for them.

Kids watching "Kavalan" movie

Fun session like dancing, singing, and playing games followed. Playing with the kids reminded me of my childhood days.

Playing 'Kho-Kho' with the kids

They didn’t let us to go but finally managed to leave by 8pm.The next day we got a chance to visit few places in Topslip .Driving through the dense forest was really adventurous and we were lucky to spot few elephants.We reached the school on Sunday at 10 am. Students had already come. The Mathematics sessions ended at 12.45 pm .It was time to leave them. The kids asked for our mobile numbers. I heard one of them calling out, “bye Ramya akka”. I felt proud for my recognition. All of us shared a common feel, “We too had achieved something in life”.

Our Achievement

We started for Coimbatore at 1 pm. At that moment, I had a new definition for life, not as vague as I thought while I had started for the trip.I experienced a bitter truth through this trip that  our country has still many more  tribal villages like this where the kids have to walk minimum of 10 kms to their school. I feel happy about my contribution.
Friends, all I would like to say is,”We are really gifted”.
“Service to the mankind is service to the God”