Starting a social service club…

“What year is this? “

“What?”

“What year is this?”

“2008.”

“Then bonded labour is illegal in India!”

“Who told you? I am the ruler of this village and everything happens the way I say”,

And the furious Gowda (landlord) sent the labourer back to work, with more punishments to come.

The Sarala Birla Acedemy (SBA), a renowned  international residential school in Bangalore, invited CSA to help the students start a social service club.

A team of 9 volunteers found themselves in front of the gates of SBA ( which had structures with towers and huge glass windows resembling Hogwart’s school painted in white) on the 30th of August. The plan was to share some  thoughts on the social reality of poverty, suffering and marginalisation in our Indian society (Projected GDP: 7.7 %) and foster their spirit to do something for the downtrodden by exploring how they could go about doing so in a proactive manner.  Sounds complicated? Well, our attempt was to de-complicate it by conveying the message through role plays, games, discussions,  a  documentary, group activities and totally avoiding what we students dread –  lectures. So we interacted with students from 9th grade to the 12th grade (250 students), with half the group attending on saturday evening and the rest on Sunday morning (31st August). Talk about ending the month with a blast.

So how did it go? well, Mr. Lonappan,  the head of the Boarding, who is also the force behind having this programme gave us a good feed back saying, “It’s always difficult to keep the attention of the boys even upto an hour. the fact that you all were able to keep them interested and enthusiatic for over 5 hours. shows that you have done somethig effective.” Excuse the trumpeting. We had a great time too! Not to forget the delicious food at the school.

The programmes started with a quick introduction about us, the organisation and a rapport building session through a song, actions song or slogans. Interspersing these with the sessions showed improved results on helping the students focus on the subjects we dealt with! It was then followed by one of our favourite games, a meaningful one too, called The Monsoon Game *. It involves a role play of 2 -3 hours where the participants got into the skin of people from poor rural areas. The prelude to this post was a serious conversation between a student, who was suffering (in the game) after being sold off  by his family to the landlord, due to poverty. It is a natural game with no pre-rehearsed lines or plots, but only some ‘guiding’ by God (played by one of the CSA volunteers), who decided whether there would be rains, thus determining the fate of the crops planted by the villagers. . .

After a discussion based on the experiences of the participants, we showed them a documentary called ‘Patri Par Bachpan’, which narrated the gloom in the lives of the people on the streets of New Delhi.  The documentary, which reflected the scenario in most Indian metros provoked further thoughts and discussions. through these discussions both the students and us learnt a lot about how these issues aggravate and what needs to be done. We would close our programme with a quick feedback activity and a few words on CSA and how we go about the SA (Social Action) part of it .

On both the days, the sessions had to go in quite a different way than we had planned due to unforeseen circumstances, but we were glad to have been team players who could be flexible, adapt to the changes and do the best with the given. In short, we  enjoyed doing this programme for the students of SBA who were enthusiastic, humble and proactive!

CSA looks forward to working with the students of SBA. Wishing all the best for their new social service club!

————————————–

* The monsoon game was introduced to CSA through Samvada, a Bangalore based NGO at a camp held in 2001. CSA expresses it’s heartfelt thanks to Samvada for equipping us with this awesome tool to bring about awareness regarding social realities

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