Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shikshamitra Blog

These days I don't report much on this Mustard Seeds blog what is happening at the school where I teach, Shikshamitra. I guess that is because I have started yet another blog where teachers and students are sharing some of the methods and activities going on there.

This photo was taken on a recent trip to the Clay Workshop where our clay teacher does the firing of the students' work. At the moment we are making terracotta ornaments as a product for the holiday season. One of the main products being made at the clay workshop are the small tea cups that are used at street tea stalls here. It was nice to see the people behind these precious works of art that get used on a daily basis, with little thought about how they came to sit in your hand serving up a refreshing little sip of tea to keep you going!

I hope you will visit our new blog from time to time too:

Shikshamitra is a school and resource center dedicated to finding alternative methods for both teaching and learning. It is based on Gandhian thought as well as some of the ideas of Steiner, Montessori and...Totto-chan!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chautary and Mustard Seeds plant a few new KOLKATA SEEDS

Chautary visit
Originally uploaded by dalbhat
Over the past few days, Mustard Seeds has had the opportunity to host friends who have come from Nara, Japan. Etsuko Yamaguchi-san runs the fair trade shop and child-sponsor NGO called CHAUTARY. Her assistant, Kanbe-san, came along with her to research and record some of the education projects their group is interested in sponsoring in the future.

Mustard Seeds is dedicated to linking people up with various NGOs in Kolkata so that everyone can understand the sort of challenges that face marginalized classes here and work together to improve the situation. After seeing the excellent work being done in the field of education for the poor by many dedicated people, Chautary has promised to work with us from now on in order to provide some financial support, even if just a little, to various projects in Kolkata, I believe that a very meaningful seed has just been planted and I wish to thank Chautary for giving Mustard Seeds a chance to grow a little more.

Here's a rough look at the groups we visited:

Day 1/ Wednesday: We visited BASHA (Bird's Nest) which is located in Gol Park. This little school is fairly new but is already providing bright primary education opportunities and health care to children between the ages of 3-6 from the neighboring areas. The children also receive a meal at around 5:00 each day. Friends from Chautary have promised to raise the money to sponsor six of the students at Basha for one year each.

Day 2/ Thursday: Yamaguchi-san and Kanbe-san visited the school where I teach art, SHIKSHAMITRA, for the afternoon. They gave the children kaminendo (packaged paper mache) to work with, and we were all surprised to see the exciting creations made using this altogether new medium. The students were excited to learn they could take what they made home too!

Day 3/ Friday: We visited the SILENCE workshop. Chautary was impressed to see so many different crafts being made all under one roof: candle-making, silk-screening and hand-painting, xmas ornaments, and jewelry making.

Day 4 / Saturday: We went to one of the EMPOWER THE CHILDREN programs called PRERONA (in the photo above). What a great time we all had exchanging songs, dances and skits as we all got to know each other a little more.

Chautary hopes to visit Kolkata on a regular basis in order to further some of the ideas we discussed this time around.

Two young girls at Prerona show some of the impressive cross-stitch they have learned as part of a vocational skills program:

Basha students get a meal each day they attend the school: