Friday, November 20, 2015

School tour in Lemoor...

Zilla Parishad High School Lemoor

ZPHS Lemoor is an Upper Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary School in Lemoor village of Kandukur. The Telugu Medium, coeducational institution was established in the year 1950 and it is managed by a local governing body.

Last Saturday I have visited the government school in Lemoor which is located about 59 kms from Hyderabad. After a long bus ride, followed by a short commute in an auto, I finally reach the school.

It was a real pleasant trip and I loved the green and lush fields on both sides of the road. Anything that takes us away from the horrendous Hyderabad traffic is music to the soul.

I must say I am impressed by the clean premises of the school. It was almost like an extension of the lovely sights I had witnessed during my journey. And the children, neatly dressed and well-attentive, were only too happy and enthusiastic to meet, greet, and interact with me, and participate in my class eagerly.

All in all, it went very well and I’m glad to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these deserving children.

HYSEA Annual CSR Summit

If there is one event that NGOs and Corp-orates in Hyderabad look forward to, it’s the HYSEA Annual CSR summit. This year, the event took place on 4th Nov 2015 and evoked the same enthusiasm and participation across diversified fields. As always, our stall attracted the attention of many visitors and participants who appreciated the work we do for the poor and needy children in Government schools.

Here are some of the pictures from the event, let the pictures speak for themselves.

Seen in the above picture is IT Minister for the Telangana State, Mr. KTR who visited all the stalls.

People from different backgrounds had attended the event which helped me learn about their innovation. Being a part of this event was a great experience.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Inspiring young minds: EFF is at it again

EFF team visits rural schools once in three months to check the progress of the students. Volunteers who come from different fields have joined us for this trip – even if it meant applying for leave and staying away from office and family for a day. That’s the kind of passion, and dedication that volunteers show for the EFF program, besides sacrificing their time & energy. For a day, volunteers turned teachers – conducted written tests, classroom games, speaking activities, etc., which gave them a break from their routine lives. Volunteers were extremely happy to give their time to rural children.
Let’s hear their happiness in their own words:

 It was my first visit to ZPHS with the EFF team and I was delighted at the opportunity to meet the students and interact with them. When we reached the school, I found that the students were also equally excited to meet us; they were eagerly waiting to hear from our team. I took classes for students 8th (EM) and 9th (TM) standards. The children were very well mannered and possessed good manners. They had the zeal to learn and improve their English. I conducted several activities to make sure each student was involved in one or the other way. Students enjoyed more in the group activities whereas individual activities boosted their confidence to speak in front of other people. Given the area that they come from and considering the fact that no one in their family is much educated, the children communicate pretty well in English and are working hard to improve further. Some T.Supraja, Rama Devi, G.Anjaneyulu and P.Bhagawan were quick in spelling out a word or in giving their introduction while some others like B.Anusha and A. Shiva Kumar were struggling to complete a single sentence. But all of them wanted to get better and better.
In 9th standard Telugu Medium, students paid full attention to each and every word that I spoke and I told them not to hesitate in asking the meaning of anything that they didn’t understand. They were lacking in good communication in English and were struggling a lot. But they didn’t lack in enthusiasm and willpower to learn more and get better. I explained the meanings to them in Telugu whenever needed. At the end of the day, we distributed books to them for encouragement. It was an exhilarating experience overall and I am looking forward to go on more such visits. Thanks to EFF and Sudha for giving me this opportunity. – V.L.S. Ravi from PurpleTalk
To my surprise, I found that Std 7th (EM) students were smarter than me. I didn’t feel like leaving the students because they were very active in the class, especially in speaking and in answering the questions. In this class, girls are very smart and courageously coming up to speak and even if they make a mistake they were not afraid to speak; they were very bold and expressive. The students are very good in communication and I was really shocked and pleasantly surprised to see the ZPHS students speaking such decent English; I think it is the hard work of EFF and some generous people who offered this to these students. Thanks to EFF for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. –Ravi kumar from Reserve Bank of India
This was my first trip to this school, so I was excited to meet the children and take classes for them. Though students of Std. 6th (TM) were very active in the class, they were unable to speak in English and some students don’t even recognize the English alphabet. However, a few of the students were able to read the English alphabet. Most of the students were unable to write a full sentence but they were eager to learn. I think there will be a gradual growth among these students as they seemed to me to be very hard working. I am eagerly waiting for my next visit. – Sravan
This was my second visit to the school and I have enjoyed this visit better than the last one. I was asked to teach 7th class Telugu medium and 8th English medium students, where I’ve conducted a few activities like self-introduction, written test, dictation and mind mapping. Some of the boys in the 7th standard were still struggling with the basics of English and I felt that the teachers have to concentrate on the language more. And in the 8th standard, girls are more active than boys. A few of the kids in both the classes seem to have a lot of skills but they were feeling shy to come forward and to express their ideas! I hope with a little more encouragement and support, they can perform very well too. What I observed in both the classes is, they showed more interest and enthusiasm when I was teaching them with practical jokes by including them as part of the subject. And those who are passive have become active too and gave a good response, drawing inspiration from the students who came forward to speak. 
It would be better for the students if teachers can guide them in basic dressing etiquette and in matters of physical appearance as well at this stage as it would help them become better citizens in the future. More than the students, as a volunteer I enjoyed the day a lot with their performance. I would love to be a part of more such activities.Venky  from Reserve Bank of India

Looking at the kind of enthusiastic response from the volunteers and also going by the inspiration they provided to the rural students, we can safely conclude that the event was a huge success. We also feel motivated not only by the participation of volunteers but also by the attitude of the students and, going forward, we would love to conduct more such events. The EFF team thanks all the volunteers for their valuable time, energy and eager participation in this activity, and hopes that the same spirit will be extended towards future events as well.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy Teacher's Day

Teachers are everyday heroes who were called on a mission to help the world learn. It requires an enormous amount of inner strength, self-sacrifice and patient listening more than just talking in the class. Teachers dedicate their life to nurturing many lives while handling the hearts and minds of children. As we belong to such a noble profession, we should strive to make this mission one of the most appreciated, respected and supported.

Ours is a culture that places teachers on a pedestal and elevates them to the status of God… which child in India wouldn’t know the concept of “Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheswara, Guru sakshat Parabrahma Tasmaisri Gurave namaha”? Guru or the teacher comes just after the parents and even before the God. That’s the stature that India gives to teachers. Can anyone ever forget legendary teachers like Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (whose birthday is celebrated in the country as the Teachers’ Day) and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam?

It is amazing to note the kind of respect, admiration and selfless love that teachers receive from their students. On this special day, let’s take some time to appreciate the great work done by teachers to shape up the personality and the future of the students under their care. I spoke to a few students to understand what they think about teachers and the Teachers’ Day, which also shows us the positive impact that teachers have on the young minds.

Here’s what students say about teachers:

Teachers are everyday heroes. – Aswitha, 7th em

Teachers are called the backbone of the society because they highly contribute towards building of our character, and shaping our future. – Kalpana, 9th em

Teachers really play a key role towards the education and students’ life. – Akhila, 9th em

Teaching profession is a great job. – Bharath, 9th em

A good teacher is a great gift to nation. – B. Anjaneyalu, 9th em

While the mother gives birth to a child, it’s the teachers who give education and life. – C. Akhil, 9th 

Students should honor teachers for their selfless effort in shaping the career and enriching the education system all over the country. – G. Premala, 9th em

Today’s students are tomorrow’s citizens only because of the efforts of teachers. – Vishnu Vardhan, 
 If there is no teacher, there is no education. – Akhil, 9th tm

Friday, August 28, 2015

Happy Eco-Friendly Raksha Bandhan

Raksh Bandhan is an Indian festival that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. The love and the sense of responsibility/duty that the brothers feel towards their sisters is incomparable. Rakhi Purnima or Rakhi, as the festival is also popularly known as in many parts of India, is used to celebrate the relationship between brothers and sisters who may or may not be biologically related.

Raksha Bandhan is an ancient festival and has many myths and historic legends lined to it. For example, the Rajuput queens practiced the custom of sending Rakhi threads to neighboring rulers as a token of brotherhood. On Raksha Bandhan, the sister ties a Rakhi on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister' love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her.

So, how about celebrating the festival this year in an Eco-friendly way? If you're looking for a special kind of Rakhi for your dearest brother, do take a look at some of the fabulous creations made by students of Red Cross Government Girls High School for inspiration!
We wish you a very Happy Raksha Bandhan!
                                                        Students are preparing the Eco-friendly Rakhi's
                                              Made by  Divya Sri,  Student of 8th class   (1st prize)
                                              Made by Mamatha,  Student of 9th class  (2nd prize)

                                              Make other person happy with your Eco-friendly gift!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Haritha Haaram - A mass tree plantation campaign in the state of Telangana

National Forest Policy of India envisages a minimum of 33% of the total geographical area under forest / tree cover to maintain environmental stability and ecological balance; that are vital for sustenance of all life-forms, human, animal and plants.
Telangana state government have launched Haritha Haaram (green belt). A mass tree plantation program in the state of Telangana. People from all corners of the society are expected to plant more trees in the state to stretch the green belt. Schools, Colleges, Institutes, govt. and private sectors, housing societies are involved in this campaign. 
‘‘Five decades under Andhra Pradesh has destroyed our forests. It is the responsibility of the people to repair the damage through this massive afforestation campaign. Haritha Haaram cannot be successful by one Chandrasekhar Rao, it will succeed only with public participation. We have to increase forest cover for ecological balance,” Telangana CM, KCR said to the press meet in Sangareddy.
Many schools had participated in the rallies and tree plantation campaign. Our Red Cross Govt. Girls High School students have come up with appealing placards for the Haritha Haaram rally.

That's a good move by the new government. Hope this campaign will grow like a banyan tree.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

One word, multiple connotations

In the book Through the Looking Glass , the character Humpty Dumpty has a unique take on language: ‘When I use a word,’ he says, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean.’ He then goes on to use the word ‘glory’ to mean ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ It is easy to think that Humpty Dumpty’s take on language is extreme, but it turns out that is exactly what we do with words anyway. We commonly take simple words and assign all kinds of meanings to them. A great example of this phenomenon is the word ‘pretty.’ Let us read Nilesh Jahagirdar's research on the word 'pretty.

Various meanings of ‘pretty’

The most common meaning of the word — and the only one that most people associate the word with — relates to appearance. Someone who is pretty is someone who is pleasing and attractive in some way. For example: ‘As the little girl dressed up for her birthday party, she looked really pretty.’ But the word can also have other meanings, depending on the context.

‘Pretty’ can also mean ‘bad or terrible.’ For example, referring to a particularly complicated situation, you might use expressions like ‘a pretty mess to be in,’ or ‘a pretty predicament.’ In addition, ‘pretty’ can also refer to size. Used in this sense, ‘pretty’ means ‘considerable in size,’ ‘big,’ or ‘quite large.’ For example: ‘He had been struggling with his finances for some time but a lottery ticket suddenly won him a pretty fortune.’

Or here is another example: ‘I bought the new TV on sale, but it still cost me a pretty penny.’ There are a few more meanings of ‘pretty,’ but we will consider one more quickly. As an adverb, ‘pretty’ can be used as a qualifier referring to the degree or extent of something. For example: ‘I may not have topped the class, but I was a pretty good student back in school.’ Also: ‘Yesterday was a warm day, but it is pretty cold today.’

As you can see, even a word as common and simple as ‘pretty’ has a number of different meanings, and can be used in a variety of contexts. In addition to its various meanings, ‘pretty’ of course combines with other words to give us a number of useful idioms. Let us discuss one of them here.
Sitting pretty

When someone is ‘sitting pretty,’ they are in an advantageous situation, or well to-do and successful. For example: ‘Many of my friends were struggling after college, but I had just started my first job, so I was sitting pretty.’ Similarly: ‘Most people struggled as the country went into a depression after the war, but the rich landowners were all sitting pretty.’

This article was originally posted in The Hindu 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Hobby can enhance our well being

Not all of the humankind is gifted with the entire talents, clubbed together; they vary from one to another. From the childhood, parents like the children to be educated to the extremes but eventually most of the parents find their children unable to cope up with the education system but finds them participating in various activities such as involving themselves in sports, drawing/ painting, singing, playing instruments mechanical fields, photography, gardening, water sports and acting in movies etc... These are some inborn talents that pop up during the stream of education which need to be polished and nourished and most of all; they need the right encouragement to develop those hobbies into real skills.
A hobby is an activity you enjoy doing. It is something you do out of your own choice, something unique to your taste and talent. A hobby can enhance our well-being and can give meaning to our life. Just as physical exercise is important for the body, relaxing the mind is also essential. We need a balance in life. Work life can be quiet hectic and everybody needs some sort of activity to relieve their stress. 

Hobby is not inborn inclination. It is developed through a constant effort. Hobbies play an important role in developing one's personality. People tend to become very mechanical if he or she does their routine work throw out the day so every person should have a hobby to keep himself active physically as well as mentally. Hobbies will enhance self-esteem and confidence. Most of the people depend upon external sources of pleasure and entertainment like: watching serials, movies, entertaining in gossiping and friends, but a hobby is something we do with an urge from within. We cannot always look on to others for relaxing or spending our free time. We should spend our precious time in doing something creative that would be beneficial for individual as well as the society around us.
                                                                                    Benefits of having hobbies:
  • Stress relief
  • Boosts self-esteem
  • Hobbies have physical health benefits
  • Hobbies make you happier
  • Hobbies helps in gaining knowledge 
  • Hobbies are great way to make new friends and improve social skills
  • Fun
  • You will learn new things
  • Potential to make extra money

A list of some hobbies for adopting
  • Singing
  • Gardening
  • Sports 
  • Yoga 
  • Collecting stamps
  • Skating
  • Cooking
  • Photography 
  • Reading 
  • Blogging
  • Playing instruments
  • Knitting
  • Drawing
Getting in to physical activities promotes good health and having hobby allows you to acquire new skills and discover hidden talents. Cultivating hobbies will eventually lead you to meeting new people and you will find new friends while implanting your hobbies. There are numerous hobbies, choose one and whatever activity you choose, it will surely result to your advantage. Even if you do not have a hobby, do make the effort to develop one, it will improve your quality of life.


Monday, May 11, 2015

EFF in Indian Startups

It's a proud moment for us, Education For Free has been featured in; an online start up news portal that serves and highlight emerging startups.
Syed Sirajuddin described EFF  in simple yet powerful lines. He described how EFF is trying to reach the fundamental right, 'Right to Education' through our innovate approach 'Virtual classroom'. He also added comments of volunteers shared with us. On behalf of EFF we thank Sirajuddin for a good write-up.
Read full article here -

Friday, April 24, 2015

Parents must maintain Equilibrium in Raising a Child as in Giving Birth to a Child!

Into this peaceful, pleasant and perfect world that God created, evil entered in various ways. And perfection resulted in imperfection which is manifested in personal grief, lack of hope, faith and trust and the loss of safety and security of human life. Among all these, child sexual abuse is the most heinous evil that has been creeping into the minds of people of all ages, and it has ruined moral values and ethical life both in the family and society. 
Lustful feelings and selfishness of man led human life to go through painful experiences, and much of it occur in childhood itself.  Caretakers alone are sometimes unable to protect children from painful experiences. Statistics presented by various organizations working with children indicate that more than half the populations of Indian children suffer from child sexual abuse in one form or other.
Sexual abuse is when any person, young, adult or child forces, tricks, threatens, or coerces a child to have sexual contact with him or her for the benefit of personal sexual excitement and satisfaction. Showing children pornographic pictures or films or telling them explicitly sexual stories can be a form of sexual abuse. Some children are forced or encouraged to have sexual contact or intercourse with parents, uncles, grandparents, friends of the family, and servants in the house. Other children have sexual contacts with strangers. Most of the times one’s own family members make one the victim of child sexual abuse but unfortunately parents are unable to understand the children because  lack of knowledge, ignorance, illiteracy, fear of shame etc…  At times parents become only the birth givers not caretakers. Nowadays most of the parents are busy working in the fields or at offices leaving their children at home with someone or servants in the house.
Most parents think that they should give the best to their children which make them keep earning money to give entertainment and excitement through toys, dresses and all the material goods. However, they forget the importance of caring for their children. Very often the negligence of children by their parents becomes the root cause of the horrible experience of sexual abuse in childhood. The literature that I have read on child sexual abuse, the personal testimonies of survivors of child sexual abuse and the experiences that people have shared personally with me make me conclude that this is a reality which many face in today’s world.

How to respond to a possible situation of sexual abuse: 

     If your child says that she/he does not want to play with uncle / cousin / servant / brother etc… you need to pick up what the child wants to say, but is unable to say.  The child may be trying to tell you that it is the victim of sexual abuse.  She/he may say that uncle is not good or he is bad. In such situations DO NOT scold the child or punish the child and defend the good character of the uncle.  The child knows only the word “bad” and nothing more.   Stay with the feeling of the child, and help her or him to speak out more in a very gentle and non-intrusive way.  You may take for granted that your child may be in a situation of sexual abuse. It is here that you need to believe your child. DO NOT believe the uncle or cousin or play down what your child says.  You may be missing out the ONLY chance to protect your ONLY child.
      The child may say that uncle did something bad to me.  In such or similar situations you may ask the child whether he touched her / him and whether that made her / him feel not good. Allow the child to use her / his expressions and feelings.   It is of utmost importance that you communicate to your child that she / he is far more precious to you than the uncle or cousin. A sense of security, homeliness, trust needs to be communicated to the child.  If your child is made a victim of sexual abuse, then you are the BEST healer for her or him.  The process of healing will have begun from the time the child feels unthreatened and protected by you.
    The next step in the process of dealing with possible abuse is to make the child feel that no matter what has happened she / he is still your dearest and best one.  Help the child feel that she / he is still good and that for you she / he matters much.  These words have meaning only if you avoid everything that would make the child feel negative about her or him.
NEVER BLAME OR PUNISH THE CHILD.  Parents are in the habit of blaming the child for whatever may go wrong because it is easier to blame the child than the adult. Besides, the child cannot defend itself.  In no way your child is responsible for what has happened (assuming something has gone wrong).  Never say: ‘You are a bad girl’ or ‘You are a bad boy’.  To be labeled as bad for innocent behavior is the greatest harm one can do to a child.  Ensure that the so called ‘uncle’ or ‘cousin’ is blamed and the child should be helped to think and feel that it has done no wrong.  The blame is to go totally and entirely to the perpetrator.  
      Ask the child whether she / he would like a change.  For example a change in the driver who transports her / him to the school; the shopkeeper who regularly supplies the stationery; the teacher who takes tuition; the kitchen girl who prepares the food etc…  Remember the perpetrator of the crime is very close to the child and is a confidant.
      Ensure the safety of the child in all contexts.  If need be, change the location where the child frequents or the school that she / he frequents. Protect the privacy of the child as much as possible.  It is of utmost importance that no one gets a chance to make the child feel bad, sad and ashamed.  No matter how good your intention is.
     REMEMBER, there is no one who is as capable and competent as you, the parent, to bring the original innocence back to the child.  She or he can be totally and completely made well, in case sexual abuse has taken place, provided you stay with the child with all the love you can pour out on her /him.
Finally believe in your child. Children usually do not lie.

       Image source: www.