DFSW 2012 Trip: Mission Accomplished!

•April 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

first and foremost, we here at DFSW would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support. it was with your donations that all of this was made possible. we could not have done it without YOU! we will be having a fundraiser/photo show this september. it’s going to be great! we will also be updating you all on the progress of our work with the schools. thank you!

the trip was life changing as well as a huge learning experience for the dirt floors and stone walls team. our aim was to learn everything we could about the public school system as well as the NGOs. we did everything from interviewing teachers and students, talking to locals, reading literature and working with non-profits to get an insider’s perspective on the issues. this helped us to really know and understand what DFSW is there for. truly digging deeper into how these children can best be helped to succeed. in that respect, the trip was a huge success and we can’t wait for our next fundraiser and trip to continue the work.

please enjoy a look back at the success and hard work that we experienced in beautiful india.

our first stop: dehli.
arun montasari public school (NGO), old delhi

this school is considered “public” because everyone is welcome to attend. however, it is a self-sustaining NGO that runs solely off of the children’s tuitions. it is an english medium school offering children a real chance for a successful education.

our experience at this NGO school was a defining moment for DFSW. it was here that we were first inspired to sponsor children to attend solid NGO schools and be given a chance at a good education. it was incredible seeing two DFSW sponsored children back in school. after paying off their back fees and funding their education for a full year in advance they immediately joined their peers and were learning again in no time. the father of the sponsored children is now an integral part of the DFSW work. he will be a representative in the slums of old delhi.

we also realized that there was a great need for books at this school. we were happy to donate 80 sets of books.

ansar (DFSW’s newest team member) and his children. two of which we sponsored to return to school.

our sponsor students! subhan (below) and aram (above).

second stop: darbar government school, old jaipur

returning was amazing and difficult at the same time. it was a steep learning curve for us. there were only so many things that we could do to help the students, due to the fact that it is a government run school. after learning more about the corruption within the government school system, we had a big decision to make regarding whether or not we could help them at all. after much deliberation with the teachers and having to return on two occasions to get approval from the principal, we were able to sit down and make a list of the most crucial supplies needed for the students to learn. we decided to make a large donation of books, pens, pencils, pencil boxes, rulers and erasers to 200 children.

it was especially impacting to sit and talk with the principal who jake had met on his first trip. she was beside herself with gratitude that we had returned to help. she went on to tell us that many people make promises to help but they are never seen again. we intend to help these kids in any way we can on future visits.

assembling sets of books for each child and marking them so they could not be sold by the teachers. sad but true.

we hand-delivered every book so the children would know that it is theirs and theirs alone.

jake with two students from his first trip. they remembered him!

third stop: bal niketan NGO school, jaipur

this school holds a very special place in our hearts. DFSW was in search for a special school like this one. the school is a no-fee NGO offering free education to its students. it has an incredible education program not only for the children, but for the women in the village that want to further their skills. the only problem being that it is run only off of donations that are few and far between. it is also supported by the humble money raised from the students arts and crafts program. fortunately, we were able to donate black boards and chalk as well as funds to build a bathroom for the school, a much needed facility for the slum as well. we also hope to raise enough funds to build the younger children a real classroom, as 60 of them are learning under a tree at the moment.

finally, we have decided that this will be our “adopted” school. we will help fund this school and keep it running as well as we can and also help sponsor their students to further their education passed level 8.

the future site of the DFSW bathroom!

some of the arts and crafts that the children make and sell. pretty amazing stuff!

fourth stop: manav sadhna NGO schools, ahmedabad

our sole purpose in visiting ahmedabad was to work with and learn from one the most revered NGOs in india. manav sadhna sets a gold standard for charity work in ahmedabad and they ask for nothing in return. through working with them, we learned a lot about sustainable ways that we can help build schools and work with the government and the community to keep them running. we also visited a small slum school that is currently run out of a volunteer’s home. manav sadhna is currently building them a pre-school down the road. what they do is inspiring and it was an honor to work with them.

one of the many sustainable schools built in an ahmedabad slum.

last stop: the garden NGO school, mumbai

we were so happy to find a great school on the final leg of our journey. the garden school is a no-fee english medium school that is open to the public. it takes children from 3-5 years old and teaches them the necessities so that they can go on to apply to an english medium private school. once the children complete their one year of education here, they are placed at one of the participating private schools where their education will be sponsored. this is made possible by donations given to the garden school by organizations like DFSW. we decided to spend the last of our funds to sponsor one child for three years and we will continue to do so as long as DFSW exists.

it is amazing schools like this that need the most support. they truly care and are have an incredible impact on india’s society.

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the garden school in colaba, mumbai, india

•March 18, 2012 • 3 Comments

on the final leg of our journey we visited mumbai. a city of maximum contrast that has something for everyone. the school system is no different. some of the best schools in the country share land with humble ngos and charity schools. such is the case of the garden school in colaba. all of the children who attend the tuition-free garden school come from the local slums. it is a primary ngo school that is run solely on donations from around the world. now including ours!

it is a very special school designed to teach children (ages 3 to 7) life skills and manners to help them succeed in the real world. they also learn the very basics of english so they can move on to a private english medium school for the last 10 years of their education. the majority of donations go to sponsoring the children to attend these fantastic schools. it costs $1400 for all ten years! it’s an amazing thing to do and we hope to continue working with them by finding sponsors and getting these children a better education.

so far we were able to sponsor one child’s education and can’t wait to do much much more. please enjoy the pictures below!

the school entrance.

the catholic schools share the grounds with the garden school. but the children never play together.

ash making some new friends, as usual!

preparing lunch for 3 different schools amounting to over 300 kids.

an enthusiastic student!

these desks are so adorable!

school ngo research in ahmedabad

•March 14, 2012 • 4 Comments

the purpose of our time in ahmedabad was to research one of the most revered ngos in all of india: manav sadhna. based out of ghandi’s ashram on the sabarmati river, it is one of the most respected organizations in the entire country. we are focusing on how they utilize resources to build schools in slum areas. our goal is to determine whether or not we will be able to do similar work in the future. below are images from two of their many school projects. one of them is completed and one of them is in progress. we visited the school that will be moving into the latter. it is currently based in the home of a local who has been kind enough to loan them his home for 3 hours a day. it is a very small space but they do what they can with what they have.

a typical slum scene. children at play.

time for prayer and morning exercises.

some kids get really into it.

others, not so much.

meditating while they wait for the food to arrive.

the teaching assistant.

waiting so patiently to be served their daily government meal.

this bowl feeds 22 students and they get fruit twice a week.

the area surrounding their new school.

the school is made from found materials. manav sadhna uses recycled materials whenever possible.

a work in progress.

the school is already being utilized for learning!

a very creative use of materials to build strong walls.

curious on-lookers.

i took this picture form their “cricket pitch”.

evan and dave working their butts off to get the school done ASAP!

now he’s curious about us!

one of the completed bholu schools. made with the same recycled construction materials. looks great! this is an ideal structure for the bal niketan slum school in jaipur. we hope to team up with evan and his team to do it ourselves.

 

 

 

delivery day, bal niketan ngo school, jaipur

•March 6, 2012 • 1 Comment

this morning as we were on our way to deliver supplies to the bal niketan school in the malviya nagar slum of jaipur, we got some bad news. we were informed that the school had been shut down for three days due to widespread domestic violence in the area surrounding the school. this was most unfortunate for the children so eager to learn. however, we were still able to meet with the founders of the school who were very thankful for what we were bringing them. 8 new blackboards, an immense supply of dustless chalk and the funds for a bathroom to be built.

this is a very exciting step for dfsw as we have never helped a school by giving them such a sustainable facility. not only will it be a beneficial addition for the children of the school, but also the people of the slum.

we are extremely excited about finding this ngo school for so many reasons! it is exactly the kind of school that dfsw has been looking to support on an on-going basis. the reasons being they don’t charge tuition fees, they have no affiliation with the government, the teachers are there for the students and not the pay, they have created their own self-sustaining arts and crafts fundraising platform and they maintain a medical dispensary for the school and entire slum as well offering classes for women who want to further their education and make a better living.

this school is going to be a major part of dfsw‘s future. we hope to keep them running and help them improve their facilities and programs as well. it is our mission!

the malviya nagar slum. it formed around a cement factory and this rock face.

they recently stopped mining it after 25 years of breaking it apart.

children hang on the foundation of what will be the new bathroom.

all of them coming to talk with ash.

enamored by her video recording of them.

even though the school was shut down today the kids still come to play.

and bring their younger siblings along.

bringing in the a couple of the black boards and chalk with help from one of the founders.

showing off the arts and crafts the children make and sell for funds toward the school.

yes, even this amazing stuffed animal.

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these are our favorites, what beautiful dolls. look at the incredible job on lord krishna (on the left).

also showing us there write ups in the newspaper.

thanks us for our donation, Namaste!

suddenly we heard a commotion outside of the office. sure enough the water truck had arrived and everyone rushed to fill up.

some of the students from bal niketan joined in filling every kind of container imaginable.

a crowded water tank.

this student was so smart! she went straight to the source.

more students helping out!

watching the crazy scene.

the founders of the bal niketan school are a policeman and a good samaritan. the world needs more people like them!

playing an intense game of marbles.

one of the youngsters helping clean the school.

the computer lab padlocked. one of the two doors at the school.

three open air classrooms.

the office and a goat.

a different scene at the water tank.

first visit to bal niketan school, jaipur

•March 5, 2012 • 1 Comment

today we visited the bal niketan ngo school in a small mining slum outside of jaipur city. upon our arrival, it was incredible to see the conditions of the school after hearing so much about the amazing things that they do there. they have a computer program, a medical dispensary on-site and a great education curriculum. all of this is done under one roof for the computers, modified stables for three classrooms and two classes of students learning under a tree. not to mention the wind that blows through the campus on an on-going basis. you see, the school is set at the base of a large mountain face that is being mined continuously. this makes it very dusty, too. we can’t even imagine what they do during the monsoon season and when it reaches 116 degrees fahrenheit in may. they make do with what they have and are definitely doing all they can to give these kids a good education.

after spending time there today, we have decided to provide them with 8 new blackboards (the ones they have are worn out), a large supply of chalk and another addition to the school facilities that you will find out about tomorrow. but take our word for it, it’s very exciting!!

we can’t wait for our delivery day tomorrow!

a student writes his colors on the blackboard in front of his class.

the computer lab has 3 monitors and a flatscreen. the kids partner up and learn together.

the water system for the children.

one of the 8 blackboards they are using at the moment. they desperately need replacing.

the entire school. two classes under the trees. three stables for classrooms on the right and the computer lab at the back. the building in the center of the campus is a temple.

they have so little chalk that they are forced to share one piece between classrooms.

chickens, goats, cows and pigs share the space with the school.

the winds were so intense that they had to stop teaching.

the kids were covering their faces and couldn’t escape the gusts of dusty wind.

it was hard to photograph, let alone even learn or teach. but they didn’t give up.

off to buy the supplies.

dirt floors and stone walls loves helping!

the shop owner had to climb into the ceiling storage to find our chalk.

loading up the car.

donation delivery day: darbar government school, jaipur

•March 2, 2012 • 4 Comments

our second day at the darbar school in jaipur consisted of a meeting with the principal, going over the list of needed supplies and getting to know the children. after the meeting (and of course more chai) we compiled a list and were on our way to old jaipur for their much-needed school supplies.

to our surprise, during the second session (the second shift of students) i found one of the original children from my first visit to the school in october 2010. her name is riyna (now 6 years old) and she is precious. it was great to see that she is still in school and thriving.

same school but a different place. the tree is gone!

they had a very good record of attendance on this day, as the kids knew we were coming.

making the list of supplies with the principal.

one of the construction workers re-doing the principal’s office. progress!

little rascals showing off for us.

class picture!

riyna looking at her picture form my first trip.

one of the principals pacifying a child.

off to get supplies.

we cleaned them out!

thank goodness for our friend and translator, abhishek!

off again!

time to get to work building book packets and building pencil boxes.

we had lots of help from rajendar, abhishek, paul, lauren and calin. thanks guys!

arriving with the supplies.

waiting patiently for their turn.

little helper.

adrenaline pumping, we started to hand out the books and supplies.

she got dressed up just for us!

“thank you”

“take good care of your supplies”

“namaste!!”

another class picture.

the teachers were thrilled. look at all of those future supplies!

storing the surplus.

ash interviewing another student.

“hello!”

the teachers’ thank you to us. so generous. more chai!

once you shake one hand, you have to shake them all!

showing us what they have learned.

this kid is an amazing reader. listen to his english!

a fond farewell.

time to say goodbye.

time for the kids from the second session.

hanging out in the shade waiting for the principal.

she’s here! what a warm welcome.

setting up the classroom.

yes, several cows infiltrated the schoolyard. this one went wild!

the principal safely locked them out.

taking attendance and passing out supplies.

so happy!

cute little rainbow shoes.

showing off her new pencil box.

another student from two years ago!

MORE CHAI!! so nice.

…and bananas for the kids.

ash’s earring buddy.

saying a final thank you.

class picture.

me with my two old friends from my last trip.

what an incredible feeling to have everything come full circle and follow through with the first school that started it all. thank you all so much for your support! more to come.

back where it all began: the darbar school, jaipur

•February 28, 2012 • 2 Comments

walking down the alley again to the darbar school was a huge rush today. the adrenaline pumping through me as we approached the high wall and metal gate was overwhelming. i was shaking. to be back where it all begin and know that we have something to give this time was fulfilling. the last words out of the principal’s mouth the last time i was there were “help us”. and we will.

after a discussion with all of the teachers today we will return tomorrow morning with the supplies that they need most. the very most basic needs by any school’s standards.

we are equally as thrilled to give as the teachers and students are to receive.

enjoy the pictures and sound clip below and please share.

walking down the gully in the slum to the darbar school.

abhishek communicating our intentions to the teachers. we printed out pictures from our first visit and they were thrilled.

the daily government meal has arrived!

dal and chapati (lentils and bread).

well-worn shoes.

so shy!

ash interviewing a student (elma) as abhishek translates

this kid has so much to say!

the youngest student of darbar. so cute.

one of darbar’s several teachers.

discussing what supplies they need most over chai and biscuits.

she has beautiful handwriting.

the entire school and the dump beyond its walls.

an interesting method of keeping ants out of the classrooms. now they just need to work on the RATS!