Friday, September 11, 2009

Harpal.. all the way from down under

Harpal came all the way from Australia. A warm and caring young man he spent his short stint at project why with the children of the special section.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

catherine, a way with the kids

Catherine Lough spent six weeks at project why. Share her experience:

During the months of July and August 2009 I volunteered for six weeks as a teacher with Project Why, a charity based in New Delhi. Project Why offers educational support to over 700 children from underprivileged areas in Delhi, helping to supplement the education they gain at government school and widen their learning opportunities. The Project runs two early education programmes, one preparatory class, primary and secondary after school programmes, a computer centre and a day care and life skills class for 20 children with disabilities.

During my time at the Project I worked with the Junior Secondary Programme which was children aged 11 to 14 years old. The children attend the project for a half-day session, 5 days a week. I worked at the Okhla centre in the mornings teaching boys and at the Govind Puri centre in the afternoons teaching girls. I taught Mathematics, English and some Science. I tried to combine teaching important skills, such as English grammar or algebraic equations, with creative activities so that learning was more varied and interesting. I created grammar exercises, as well as using the pupils’ English language textbooks. The older children also wrote short essays or letters about topics such as their school, friendship or the environment.

It was useful to engage the children in conversation or debate. Whilst at school they do written English exercises, they often do not have the opportunity to practise spoken English. I was really impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and creativity. In a discussion about stereotypes and religious tolerance one student contributed some very mature insights, relating the idea of stereotypes to a film we had seen. After we had looked at a text on global warming, one boy created a wonderful poster on the environment, focusing upon different kinds of pollution. All the students were very willing to learn and this made teaching both interesting and enjoyable.

As well as written exercises, we occasionally cooked simple dishes with the children, such as fruit salad or stewed fruit. The children would not have the opportunity to eat different fruits at home, so it was interesting for them to sample fruits such as mangoes, bananas and pears. We asked the children to write the recipe in English so that they would learn vocabulary such as ‘cutting,’ ‘peeling’ ‘slicing’ etc. We went with a small group of girls to buy the fruits, and asked them to work out how much a certain amount of mangoes, for example, would cost, so that they could practise their Maths skills.

During my time at the project, there was an eclipse of the Sun. A fellow volunteer and I thought the eclipse was a good opportunity to teach the children about the solar system and space exploration. We took our class to the Delhi Planetarium where the show illustrated the discovery of planets in an exciting and entertaining way. After the visit, we constructed a model of the Solar System with papier-maché, balloons and paint with the girls. This was displayed in the classroom. They really enjoyed doing something creative and the exercise helped them to learn the order and size of the planets in a meaningful way.

If there was a significant event or festival, I tried to incorporate it into the lessons. For example, on Independence Day we prepared a comprehension text about the history of the Indian Independence movement. Comprehension exercises were a good way to introduce the children to new vocabulary and ideas. After we had discussed the text, we asked the children to create an acrostic poem about India, with each of the letters of ‘India’ or ‘Independence’ being used to create sentences describing different aspects of the country. The poems were fantastic, discussing respect for wildlife, democracy, the struggle for independence and the diversity of religions in India. One girl memorably ended her poem, ‘East or West, India is the best!’ On the visit to the Planetarium we had also visited Nehru’s house which helped the children to understand the history of August 15th.

At the Okhla centre on Saturday mornings the boys usually played games such as Ludo or Caramboard. This gave me the idea of creating a board game, based on Ludo, with educational questions on Science, Mathematics, English and Pictionary using English words. The children enjoyed the structure of the game while practising language and mathematical skills from their lessons. I enjoyed teaching Mathematics and, as I taught using an English-medium textbook, it also improved the children’s comprehension skills. I found the students’ level of Mathematics to be excellent.

I really enjoyed being a part of the Project, albeit in a small way. The children really benefit from the dedication of the permanent teachers at the Project and the different activities and opportunities on offer. I was really impressed by the conscientious attitude to learning of the children. All the students involved with the project achieve brilliant results in school exams and continue with their education.

It was difficult to say goodbye to the children. On my last day they gave me some pens and one girl invited me to her home to drink chai tea (which I am now a fan of)! I hope to remain involved with the project and would welcome an opportunity to volunteer there again.

Project Why is a worthwhile and inspiring programme, which makes a difference to the lives of many children. To enable it to carry out its work it is always in need of new sponsors and financial support.

Catherine Lough, August 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

nina.. gentle ways of the heart

Nina came to us some as a long term volunteer in September 2008. It took her very little time to become one of us and to be part of our team. Nina teaches English to our teachers both at the main centre and at the women centre. She also helps us in various other matters such as fund raising and project writing. Her endearing smile and warm personality is loved by all.

But that is not where it ends. Nina knows how to look with her heart. She was touched by little Meher's plight and set on singlehandedly to rebuild this little girls' future.

Hannah.. truly the best

Hannah has been travelling for over a year now. She sometimes takes a break to volunteer with an organisation and she did just that with pwhy. During her stay with us Hannah undertook exciting craft projects with the special section and battled her way trying to teach proper English to a bunch of rowdy teenage girls. She will son leave us to wander the planet again!

flore...a remarkable young lady

Flore is just 19. See her at work and you will think she is way beyond that. Flore works with the most difficult of the disabled kids and loves it. Always looking for new ideas and activities Flore has taken her work really to heart and is the darling of her kids. She also undertook to renovate the special section classroom and he are all waiting to see how it will finally look!

jenine.. artist at heart

Jenine came all the way from Calgary in Canada. She spent six weeks with us. An artist by profession Jenine initiated several craft projects and set out to decorate the special section classroom. A warm and loving person Jenine was loved by all.


Sarah was our second volunteer from Cambridge. She spent six weeks with us and taught at our second creche. In spite of a language barrier, Sarah managed to communicate with her colleagues and teach many new things to the children. Her commitment and dedication were truly exemplary. Even after she left Sarah did not forget her pwhy kids and sent them a huge hamper of toys for Xmas.