Friday, December 02, 2016

Keertha Kumar is a 10 year old child studying in Class V in Thiruvottiyur West, Chennai.  His mother is the sole bread winner of the family supporting her 3 children after her husband walked out of the family.

His teachers branded him as 'extremely unmanageable' since he is very mischievous and is a slow learner.  He has difficulty in identifying words and in interacting with his fellow classmates.  He spends most of his time in school playing with children from higher classes.  Keertha Kumar is an isolated student in his class.

NalandaWay's Arts in Education class in his school commenced in the second week of October. Keertha Kumar's interest was piqued and he did not venture out to play during the class.

Keertha Kumar mighty pleased after finishing his activity 

He followed all the instructions and was eager to do NalandaWay's activity.   His involvement was drastic and unexpected making his teachers exclaim "He is one happy child there".  For someone thought to be a slow learner, he was able to understand the concept, follow instructions and finish the activity.  His drawing and the usage of colours was a step ahead of other children.  To his teacher and to our delight, he is now looking forward to further NalandaWay's sessions.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Healing through Art

Kanavu Pattarai, our Workshop of Dreams is on at CSI school in Sriperambadur, Kancheepuram district in Tamil Nadu.   

These are healing workshops for underprivileged children where they identify their most troubling personal issues, find solutions to common social problems, work on building themselves and their community.   

Yesterday, with clouds threatening to rain, 26 excited and restless children of Standard 8 could not wait for the workshop to begin.   

Activity for the day - Drawing Modern Art based on an personal impactful life incident.  

Boys meditating 

Girls contemplating harder 

The children were seated in a circle and were asked to meditate for a few minutes.   With eyes remaining closed, and the sound of waves playing from a speaker, the children were asked to imagine one sad and one happy memory from their lives.   The feelings and details from that day were asked to recollect.  A few minutes after this, the children were instructed to use colours and patters that best described their emotions on that day.  The painting would be their diary, a personal journal where they record their feelings. 

Drawing with complete focus

It was amazing to see what the children came up with - 

  • Immense anger due to abandonment by father and mother struggling to make a living 

  • Distress when watching parents fight 

  • Happy on remembering day out at the beach 

  • Spending time with friends giving great pleasure 

Art in making 
It was touching to watch children get in touch with their emotions and paint it gloriously.  What better modern art? 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Unconventional Team Building

In June NalandaWay decided to have its first off-site team building trip.  The vision was to go trekking in Kodaikanal, camp outdoor and have surprise team building activities sprinkled in between. 

Beautiful Kodai 

DAY 1:  Reached Kodai with a lot of bonhomie. An hour’s drive from the city was our base camp.  The  plan was to start trekking before noon, but there was no sight of our trekking guide for what seemed like an eternity. 

When he finally turned up and we took our first steps, the skies opened up.  We scurried to our vehicles for the rain to abate.  After about 30 minutes, with just a light drizzle and with garbage bags as raincoats we resumed the trek.  Barely 10 minutes into the trek there was a blood curling shriek from one of the female employees as she spotted leeches on her legs.  From that moment it was pandemonium galore.  We were told to walk fast, aka run, and not mind the leeches.  There was running, crying and shrieking in a continuous cycle. The path seemed endless, we turned back mid way to repeat the cycle of running, crying and shrieking.  Not all were crying and shrieking, but surely everyone ran for their lives.

We tumbled back on the road with feet, legs covered with leeches that had came out after the rains.  There was a frantic effort to pull them off.  Blood was trickling down our legs like sweat after an intense run.  A scene out of a comic horror movie.

We made our way back to the camp in heavy downpour.  There was shed acting as make-shift kitchen with its sides open. We huddled around cooking fire in the ‘kitchen’ with no electricity. We were wet, bleeding with leech bites, but we sang, swapped stories, and played dumb charades.   Retired into tents for a listless sleep.

Our bedrooms  

DAY 2: Following a sumptuous breakfast, we started our trek to a waterfall.  It had the promise of swim, bath, and washing of previous day’s nightmare.  We walked for over one hour only to realise we had just reached the point of descend, and boy, did we descent.  Steep, very steep and rocky, inducing acrophobia and never ending.  Then the downpour – dense and causing landslides.  We scurried yet again and huddled in a room at a farm used for drying garlic.   There we were, packed in that room full of garlic, eating rusk and mixture, watching the guide doze off wondering what did we get into.

Once the rain abated a show of hands to continue or return had a majority opting to continue.  With this decision came new challenges.  One, as we learnt from day 1, leeches would be out post rains.  Two, the ground turned slippery and we were in flip flops. Three, most significantly, the guide did not seem to know the best way to get to the waterfall.

We resumed nevertheless.  Our boss was leading the way on a slippery descent.  He fell.

We were in a single file behind him. Everyone stopped mid way amidst walking falling, taking a step or drinking water.  There was absolute silence.  His left arm was twisted at the elbow in an angle that can be described as alarming.  No more choices. We had to get back to sanity and civilization at the earliest.  Boss made an arduous climb up with a staff and local help to a hospital in Kodaikanal. While rest make a painful climb back.

Before the fall, during the descend 

Chief Operating Officer decided enough of drama and made us pack up from the camp.  Kodaikanal city here we come! We find the boss in the city with his arm looking normal, in pain but in good spirits.


DAY 3: Walked around the city, ate, talked, ate, talked, slept and left for home sweet home.

Happy to be getting back 

A sizable staff was new, a few working from Delhi, Coimbatore and Andhra Pradesh.  In 3 days we learnt more about one another than months at work.  We saw each other tested, troubled, resilient and strong.  What better team building than a trip with misadventures?  

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

FUNDANGO goes to Schools

We are excited to share with you that our first batch of FUNDANGO are out for distribution today!

In three huge vans our three teams today took the treasure FUNDANGO chest to almost 9 schools.

The  Spunky kids helping to set up FUNDAGO at a school in Shenoy Nagar

                       Vidhya explaining to the teachers on how to use FUNDANGO

The Headmaster worried about the safety of the Lenovo tab and Vidhya assuring her! 

Acquainting with FUNDANGO

NalandaWay staff is getting ready to distribute the FUNDANGO kits to schools in Chennai.  But not before they get acquainted with it!

Gomanthi Shankar instructing on how to use FUNDANGO to the staff 

Our Staff soaking it in 

Fun begins begins with....

FUNDANGO is a treasure chest filled with goodies to arouse curiosity in children and bring out their creativity.    NalandaWay plans to distribute 25 FUNDANGOS to Chennai Primary Schools.  

If the kids want to draw, there are supplies to make paintings, puppets and go wherever their creativity leads them. 

They can dive into world of books in Tamil and English on wildlife, famous personalities, interesting places, things to do, fun stories and amazing poems.

Music instruments like small drums and Kanjera and others are available to bring out the
AR Rahman in them!

There are board games to play and Oh WAIT….a Lenovo tablet awaits the kids! The tablet is loaded with over 70 demo videos on painting, drawing, sketching and the likes.

The idea of FUNDANGO is for the kids to open the chest, pick what interests him or her and just roll with it.  Self leaning with no structure and following only curiosity can show amazing results in learning.   Our small endeavour in this process.

So let the fun begin!