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Both of Mercy’s parents worked in the unorganised sector, who could not afford her school fees. She joined Makkala Jagriti Learning Centre at the age of 11, and always found the facilitators to be warm, welcoming and encouraging. Makkala Jagriti also supported her to pursue her education.
“We had a lot of freedom to explore our interests and talents. They taught us life skills and values. It was a new world for me.”
Through the Yuva Jagriti career guidance programme, Mercy received the right kind of insight and encouragement that led her to pursue a degree in Commerce, that too through a merit seat. Being the first girl in her family to study that far, she set an example in her community and made choices that allowed her to move beyond the circumstances that she was born into. Mercy now works in a reputed bank and is among our celebrated many who not only made a difference in their own lives but continue to do so in that of others.
Prabhu was a teenager when the old, dilapidated building in which his family lived collapsed, leaving them without a home. While they were still grappling with the situation, Prabhu lost his father, the sole earning member of the family. Unable to process his difficult circumstances, he found strength in hanging around with his friends, who often indulged in gang wars and all forms of abusive behaviour.
Prabhu was a shy yet playful boy when he joined the Yuva Jagriti centre at the age of 15. He expressed, “I feel I am at crossroads, not sure which road to take”. Following our support and guidance, he decided to pursue an internship at Makkala Jagriti. He was entrusted to work with children from Shelter Homes. Today, Prabhu is a sought-after Creative Facilitator and Coordinator at Makkala Jagriti, managing three Community Centres. A silent yet sound performer, he brings in diverse and highly creative ways to engage children and help them learn and grow.
Murali lived in Bengaluru with his brother, while his parents lived in a village in Tamil Nadu. After his 10th grade, he lost the interest and inclination to study further. When he joined Yuva Jagriti, he started learning Taekwondo at our centre, which helped him become calmer and more focused. He also showed immense capacity to work with children, especially in the areas of sports and creativity, and this landed him an opportunity to work with Makkala Jagriti. Alongside his work, he pursued Taekwondo and competed at the District, State and National levels. He won a number of Gold Medals.
Today, Murali is an accomplished Taekwondo instructor, teaching at many schools in Bengaluru. He brought great accolades to the Nation when he won two bronze medals at the World Taekwondo Championship in Korea in September 2017.
Barnalli, a seventh grade student at Government Primary School, Somasundrapalya, is a child of migrant parents from Assam. Unable to speak the local language, Kannada, she found it difficult to adjust to school and struggled to mingle with other children.
“When you are new to a place and don’t know anyone, it is hard to fit in. She didn’t have any friends in school.”
– Barnalli’s mother
Makkala Jagriti’s language development program came to her rescue.
“Although I was in a higher grade, the HDLC facilitator taught me Kannada right from the basics. The different activities and sessions helped me grasp the language easily and quickly. Over time, Kannada moved from being just a new language to my favorite subject. Learning Kannada helped me enjoy school a lot more. I became a class leader and also started representing the school in inter-school competitions!”
Manoj, a 12-year-old boy, hails from a family of garment workers who had migrated from Andhra Pradesh. On moving to Bengaluru in 2018, he joined the Government Primary School in Ulsoor. The drastic change in his environment and culture left him feeling withdrawn and fearful. He refused to speak or participate in any school activity. Over time, he conﬁded in our HDLC facilitator about feeling neglected by his parents in such diﬃcult circumstances.
Manoj’s mother was invited to participate in Makkala Jagriti’s parents’ workshop. The two-day residential workshop allowed her to reﬂect on her own mindset, biases and relationship with her son. At the end of it, she made a conscious decision to work on rebuilding and restoring her relationship with Manoj. At school, our facilitator noticed that this had a direct impact on his performance. He became more participative and improved in his academics. Manoj later shared with the facilitator that his relationship had become more harmonious and positive with his mother.
We have seen great transformation take place when parents and community members are involved in shaping learning spaces for children and understand the importance of preschool education. The Anganwadi at Katamnallur, Bengaluru, transformed from a dull space to a vibrant and colourful learning centre, where children love to visit every day and parents and community members gather to participate in various activities.
“When we started our intervention, we saw that the environment at the Anganwadi was not safe or conducive for children. Although the community could contribute to the Anganwadi’s development, there was a major gap between the community, local leaders and Anganwadi teachers.”
– Gouri, Coordinator
Through community celebrations and fun events, we involved community members in the Anganwadi activities. As their participation grew, their understanding about the significance of early learning and development also increased and they readily contributed to the centre’s development.
“Community involvement in Anganwadi is so important. Inspired by Makkala Jagriti’s work, we saw the community, parents and Bala Vikas Samithi members come together and show greater ownership towards the Anganwadi.”
– Subramanya Swamy, Doddabanahalli Gram Panchayat Member
In an effort to ensure that every household in the Anganwadi community had access to child-friendly learning materials, we started a novel initiative called ‘Toy Library’, which allowed parents to borrow toys and learning resources for their children.
“The Toy Library has been very useful for children. Whatever we teach at Anganwadi, they can continue learning at home independently. Parents also feel more equipped to engage their children at home. No wonder, within just two months of its launch, over 100 toys were borrowed from our Anganwadi.”
– Bhavya, Anganwadi teacher
The Toy Library concept was welcomed by the community and the time spent on learning at home increased!
“My child always preplans what he’d like to take home from the Toy Library. He has also become very responsible in maintaining the toys because he knows he must return them! In the past 3 months, we have borrowed 20 times already.”
– Shwetha, Parent, Vijayanagara Anganwadi, Doddaballapur
To ensure children get quality pre-school learning opportunities in the Anganwadi, we empower the teachers and helpers through enhancing their knowledge, skills and attitude towards early learning and development.
“Through Anganwadi trainings, I have changed in a positive way and gained confidence about myself – especially in terms of catering to all domains of early learning. I have even started making learning materials by myself to teach children”.
– Nirmala, Anganwadi teacher, Rojipura
We train teachers and helpers on experiential learning methods that can be practiced at their centres. We also organise Mothers’ Meetings and regular mentoring visits to provide on-the-job support and guidance to teachers. Anganwadi helpers are empowered to become co-teachers and have an important role in the children’s learning process, thereby not confining them to just cooking and cleaning.
“I was used to just cooking and cleaning in the Anganwadi and did not do much else. However, after I attended the ECCE trainings, I realized I had a lot of potential and could engage and teach the children just like a teacher. Now, when the teacher is absent, I engage children in preschool learning activities.”
– Rukmini, Helper, Jyothinagar Anganwadi
From giving little time to learning, to prioritizing pre-school learning and spending more quality time with children, Anganwadi teachers and helpers have come a long way.