Hope Torch started working with Sneha home toward the end of September 2017. It was a challenge for me since I was new to the different programs, added to which Sneha was itself a new home we were working with. So getting kids through the program orientation and at the same time trying to understand the objectives of each program was a task. But as the saying goes “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
I trained myself to be able to train the kids. The other Hope Torch colleagues and available information on our programs were really useful to get through any concerns I had. Gradually, 3 or 4 weeks after starting the programs, the kids started showing some improvement towards Word Frames. After Word Frames, Mathletics became a favourite of theirs as well. While during the first weeks I’d started loosing hope of getting the kids’ attention, I later realized they’ just weren’t used to the programs yet.
I found that Mathletics was more successful when I conducted repeated test for those who failed initially, with kids passing the test after 3 to 4 attempts. For Word Frames, the understanding of the topic and keywords and their explanation started coming a bit later, and were a big achievement when they did come. While initially the kids just copied the diagrams from their textbooks, they’ve now started to create them on their own.
After observing the kids for a week I noticed that the majority lacked a knowledge of English, due to which communication sometimes was a challenge. To overcome this, I planned “Learning English Together” as a Quarterly goal for the home. Engaging them in reading, writing, listening and speaking in English were the initiatives I took. I brought an easy English storybook every week with me to make them read and this developed their interest in reading more stories. Unexpectedly, they also started asking me for books to read and I got them books from the Hope Torch library. The kids are still continuing with this goal.
Above all, I had an incredible experience of having Charan as the first client for the Inside Out program. I never thought that spending just 15 minutes a week with him and actively listening would describe a whole person to me, but in that time I did get to understand him. Charan shared many things during Inside Out, one of which was his inclination towards art. I tried to encourage him in this by suggesting he having an art book where he can sketch all that comes in his mind. To my surprise he started doing it and every now and then he comes to me show me his new drawings.
For the Hidden Treasure program, the kids came up with the social theme of ‘Saving Animals’, saying it’s something required for future generations. I was surprised when they talked about animal extinction happening today and their idea of presenting the message of saving animals as street wall art. I am very excited to see the final outcome.
What I have found challenging is handling the older kids in higher grades, who are often disobedient and sometimes bully the younger children. This often occurs in homes with kids of different ages. The older kids often feel inferior when sitting along with younger kids to work on the same math tests or programs, and behave aggressively especially when the younger ones do better. In the coming days at Sneha I would like to address this age conflict; I’m thankful for having this opportunity to work with and understand this diverse group of kids!