Is that too clichéd a title for the first post of any blog?
Welcome! We are The Bindal Project and we have been running in the form of a Remedial Education Program for children from a slum community. There used to be a river in Dehradun (now the capital of the INdian state of Uttarakhand since its inception 10 years ago), called the Bindal River that has obviously dried up now and on either side of the bed of this erstwhile water source, is a slum community that now stretches under a bridge built over the river. This is called the Bindal Bridge (naturally) and the slum dwellers live amidst garbage, dirty water that flows through the middle of the river-bed, overwhelming stench and a lot of other problems, including the threat to be evicted from this land by the Nagar Nigam authorities.
Yet, it is incredible to see life blossoming and people thriving here. It would be foolish to be romantic and pretend to only see the smiles and the joyful squeals of children as they play on the side of garbage piles or on a bit of land surrounded by clogged drain water. These are the realities and that is what The Bindal Project is working against- development of the community through a child-centric approach to work.
It all sounds very theoretical. The Bindal Project runs under the Aasraa Trust (www.aasraatrust.org), which is an NGO working with disadvantaged children in Dehradun. We run another project with street children, which is called Street Smart and the blog for this may be found here.
The Bindal Project started a little over two years ago and in this time, we have grown to a school running under a commercial complex right next to the dwellings of the folks from the slum. We have about 80 children attending school regularly, where we teach English, Maths and Hindi. We have a vocational training program for the older girls and an aganbadi (crèche) for the infants and toddlers. The children are divided into Nursery, KG 1, KG 2, and standards 1, 2 and 3. Besides education, we run an art program on Saturdays. Everyday, the children get one banana each after their daily prayers and exercises and a glass of milk with Bournvita and/or Boost at the end of the class.
We are now gearing to spread our wings and move the program to another premises that is more conducive to the education of our children, and where we can expand our programs as well as make it more interactive, creative and fun for them. Through this blog, we will share our experiences as we surge ahead to expand and re-establish the school. It will be updated on alternate days, three times in a week. Or so we intend!