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Back To Solid Basics

Maybe it was our own miscalculations, maybe it was all the pressure from everywhere around us or maybe it was a little of both but we had strayed off the path that we had set off on, when we started Street Smart. Too quickly to be very effective, we jumped to alphabets and numbers, bought slates and chalk and started to focus more and more on the lessons part of Street Smart. Only a couple of weeks after starting this routine did we get the time to step back and take stock of what was happening and realized that with the kids, we too were losing our zeal and energy.Over the past few weeks, there has been more arguments and problems than ever before and the kids have been dragging their feet into Street Smart and there is a strong chance that this is only to be able to claim lunch later. The children stopped learning and Street Smart stopped growing really, as we entered the arena of letters and numbers. Also, we had stopped using paints and had focused instead on oil pastels, crayons and other ‘dry colours’ that, we realized recently did not really grasp the imagination of the children.So we have done a u-turn yesterday and went straight back to our solid basics of paint, water and lots of paper! The result was immediate and astounding. We had had to make a deal with the Tina lot (the group of girls who ask for money outside Orient Cinema here) to come in only for half an hour before lunch so that they would learn a little and their earning would  not be affected but all of this was negotiations. That fire of interest in the children to come to us everyday was growing dimmer.

Well, I will tell you, it flared yesterday! The Tine lot dropped everything and came to Gandhi Park much before their requisite time. There were more children yesterday than in a long time (by which I mean about two weeks but remember the relative value of two weeks for a 3-month old project).

And oh, you should have been there to see the imagination flowing out of these children! They made paintings after paintings of the most wonderful designs and the most inspiring colours and we set them out within a natural protective space that the roots of an enormous tree created, so that the wind would not take the pages away. It was a little space of magic yesterday, with the sun drying the paintings on one side and the tree’s branches providing shade to the kids on the other side. It was so incredible that it has made me almost poetic in my description in this post!

Here are a few photos from yesterday:

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