Day 1 of our Street Smart School finally started yesterday after about a month of plans, discussions and meetings. The first step is, like all first steps are, was a small and beautiful beginning with three siblings Naina, Adit and Bhola. The official inauguration of the project is on January 09 but until then we want to get our’s and the kids’ feet wet through daily meals and a bath and unstructured classes.
We were armed with the things that the core group had amazingly gathered in very short notice- stationary, tooth brushes, soaps, shampoos, warm underclothes for the children, buckets, mugs and a host of other things.
It had been decided earlier to provide the kids with lunch at a dhaba outside the lane where the shelter is located- a nice thali of two chapattis, cholas and aaloo ki sabzi each.
At the shelter, we started out by brushing teeth!
The kids were shown the correct way of doing it by Shaila and once they got over the “cold feeling in the mouth”, they were eager to show off their gleaming teeth!
For their bath, a kettle has been brought in to warm the water for a few days since the shelter where we are running the project has kindly volunteered to arrange for a small geyser for their baths.
The new thermals (warm underclothes) for the kids fit them nicely; though we have learnt that there will ALWAYS be a little cribbing and tussling among them about colours of clothes, even in case of underwear!
We painted together and there was interesting artwork from the kids at the end of the day that my poor skills at photography have managed to hide!
However, did it proceed quite as smoothly as the above shows? Bah! I wish! There were a hundred miniscule problems. Two of the three kids who were supposed to be the first trio at Street Smart could not be found anywhere. There was a crazy traffic jam that got everybody late and the kids don’t take too kindly to that so I had to deal with “it has been three hours now”, “it has been four hours now” after every five minutes!
We had decided to keep the flow of lessons unstructured to begin with and to focus on art- painting and colouring- more than on actual lessons in Hindi and Maths but though we were faltering through the first day, it was not a disaster!
The thing is that we do anticipate problems in dealing with this group of children. We also understand that the problems will be much more than what we can anticipate! But these battles and hurdles are not a problem for the morale because fighting them makes sense and therefore they are not draining. On the contrary, as I am personally finding out, they uplift the spirits more!
Here is to a million big and small battles and a million big and small victories on day two, three, four and two-thousand-and-thirty-five!