It was amazing to be back in Ahmedabad after almost exactly a year. Amy and I had a few bumps in our travel but were eager to arrive (around 2 am.) Our timing couldn’t have been better. Our first day aligned with Manav Sadhna’s welcome back event for the kids after two weeks of Diwali break. We spend the morning at the Kiran center which was a blast. A lot of the same kids I taught are still there, with the addition of some younger ones. To refresh, the Kiran Center serves kids from 1st to 6th standard. About 180 kids attend the center with an average of 130-150 coming each day. Since I was there last, they have expanded the common space where the kids sit upon arrival each morning for prayer and general announcements or sometimes a group song or game. This is standard across the Manav Sadhna Centers but due to very limited space, we were unable to do it last year when we first got started. The center also has a garden now which the kids attend to and they’ve expanded into one more large classroom (now 4 total plus a kitchen.) The kitchen now cooks a hot meal at least once a week for the kids which is an upgrade from last year. The children usually receive a variety of nuts or fruit, and milk on other days. The center also now has sports day, dance and drama each week which is new from last year.
Three of the teachers from last year are still there. They’ve hired three new teachers and got rid of one that wasn't a great fit. It’s very encouraging to see how seriously they’re taking the hiring and training of the teachers. Though most are new to teaching, MS puts on teacher training and has more experienced teachers or the education coordinators from other centers come help out each week. Anjali expressed that Manav Sadhna’s English curriculum across the centers is their weakest so along with teaching English to 4th, 5th and 6th standard students, Amy will be helping to develop this curriculum across all of the centers. Her teaching experience is going to be a huge asset for MS and they’re very excited about having her on board.
As Manav Sadhna’s newest center, the Kiran Center still has a ways to go but I was very impressed by the progress it’s made in just a year. It still shares the space with the Paryavaran Mitra project but hopefully, in the semi-near future, Paryavaran Mitra will find another space of its own and the kids can use all of the space. The Sabarmati community has been so welcoming and I see a lot of potential for the center.
I took a portable printer with me to Ahmedabad that I’ve left with Amy and I spent most of my time photographing each child at the Kiran Center and printing them a photo to take home. It’s very rare for any of them to have photos of themselves so this was a big deal for them. It was also a fun way for me to get to know each kid a little bit. I’m going to compile a catalog of the students that Amy can use to learn names and that we can keep as a record.
To cap off my time in Ahmedabad, we took a field trip with the Kiran Center students from 3rd – 6th standard to a park a few hours away. We stopped at two temples and a mosque, and had lunch along the way. It was a great way to end my time there after getting to know those kids for a couple of weeks. Manav Sadhna is very grateful to the Shah Family and DCC for “adopting” the Kiran Center as they say. I’ll be keeping in close contact with Amy and she’ll be reporting on the blog every other week. Thank you for all of your support and I’m excited to watch this place grow and enrich the lives of these children.