Tag Archive: schools in India

Vaccination site in Bangalore, India
Photo 215572010 / Covid In © Jaidev Narayan | Dreamstime.com

Locating oxygen canisters and hospital beds

During the pandemic, many of the people at the CPRA Foundation, in Chennai, India, instead of doing their usual office work, have been spending long hours on the phone helping those who are ill – by locating oxygen canisters for those having trouble breathing who are staying at home and by locating available hospital beds for those who need to be hospitalized. This hasn’t been easy to do since oxygen canisters have been very hard to find anywhere due to the huge demand – and the hospitals are full to capacity. With a lot of perseverance, however, they have been able to help and have saved lives in this way.

A migrant worker with his daughter walking along a highway.
Photo 188572407 / Covid © Manoej Paateel | Dreamstime.com

Helping migrant workers

The CPRA Foundation has helped wherever they can in other ways too. When migrant workers from Bihar in the north of India who had been doing construction work were stranded during the lockdown, they were allowed to stay on the property. The Swanag Constructions Private Limited Company continues to pay them a part of their salary although they are no longer working. Every day the CPRA Foundation gives them free meals of rice and lentils, which is the staple diet in Tamil Nadu. Being able to stay in Chennai in a safe place has been an enormous help to them since Bihar is hundreds of miles away, and they really have had no way to get home while the lockdown lasts. Last year, in many Indian cities, migrant workers, like the man in the image above with his daughter, had a lot of difficulty during the lockdown. The CPRA Foundation wanted to make sure that this did not happen to any of these workers. They are all young men who will either continue working in Chennai or will go back to their villages in Bihar after the lockdown ends.

Mrs. Niraja, school psychologist
Photo: Sharon St Joan

Saraswathi Kendra students

The Saraswathi Kendra Learning Center, the school for children with learning disabilities run by the CPRA Foundation, has set up special programs to help the children and their parents during the pandemic. Learning remotely and the stress of having to stay at home all day has brought unique challenges for these children.

The school psychologist, Mrs. Niraja, has stayed In touch with both the parents and the children throughout the lockdown and has put into effect home interventions to help in each specific situation.

One child learned to garden and found that relating to plants gave her a great sense of calm and a feeling of security.

A nine year old girl, following her conversations with Niraja, was able to develop a pattern of having set times for play and times for study. She grew to love reading and spends some time every day reading a book. She’s also begun to ask her parents to tell her stories. Her temper tantrums, which had been a problem, have vanished, and her mother wrote that she now asks for whatever she needs clearly and politely.

Positive transformations have taken place in the lives of dozens of these children, helping both them and their parents – thanks to the efforts and ingenuity of Niraja, who, instead of lowering her expectations for the children during the difficult days of covid, has only redoubled her efforts to help each child. Amazing changes have been the result.

The Saraswathi Kendra Learning Center has always had a policy of relating to each child as an individual, with his or her own unique talents and abilities. In this way, the children are able to pursue whatever they are good at and to find a path in life that will bring them success.
Many of the students go on to university, and many have highly successful careers, especially in classical dance or as sports stars. Above all, they can find happiness, knowing that they are cared for and appreciated for exactly who they are.

Telling right from left is not difficult, but then if you never quite got the idea to begin with, it certainly would make life a lot harder. There are a lot of concepts like this that we all take for granted, but for some children, a few extra hours of instruction can make all the difference for the rest of their lives.

In a large room, filled with brightly colored objects, the students who attend the Saraswathi Kendra Learning Centre are able to fill in these gaps in their understanding. Mrs. S. Niraja, the senior psychologist, makes learning fun. With a radiant smile, she leads students around the room as they do exercises that will help with some basic concepts – like telling left from right, or forwards from backwards.

Every student at Saraswathi Kendra is related to as an individual who has special talents and abilities. They learn to do, with pride, what they are good at. Those who can do standard subjects like mathematics, English, or history are taught those subjects. Those who have other talents are taught whatever they can do well. All the students study yoga, art, music and dance and some excel in one field of study or another.

Finding each student’s special talents

When they graduate, many go on to university. The confidence they have acquired at Saraswathi Kendra helps them on their way through life. The arts require talent, but not necessarily academic ability. Many Saraswathi Kendra students excel at sports and become soccer or cricket stars. Some pursue a career in classical dance or singing, or as a musician. They are able to contribute to society and lead meaningful lives when they are able to develop the God-given talents that are uniquely theirs. No longer frustrated or self-conscious, they spread their wings and soar.

Dr. Tulsi

Dr. Tulsi, a lovely little dog who has been trained as a therapist makes regular visits to the school. She puts the children at ease, and they are able to communicate with her in a way that they would not with most adults. Dr. Tulsi makes no demands and has no expectations. She is sweet, accepting, and friendly, which helps a lot to dispel any social difficulties.

From frustration to excellence

One boy that Mrs. S. Niraja tells me about, was having great difficulties before he came to Saraswathi Kendra. He was always angry and had no friends. Feeling frustrated, he found it hard to get along with others. After a short time at Saraswathi Kendra and much individual attention, his teachers discovered that he had an amazing ability to design robots. He could design robots and then build them. Tested for his aptitude in that field, he showed a high level of intelligence. After six years at Saraswathi Kendra, as a young man, he is now on track to have a successful career and a fulfilling life. He has many friends, and his smiles have replaced frowns.

In India, schools are not free and are not paid for by the government. In order to operate, the school must charge fees. At Saraswathi Kendra, many of the parents are able to pay for their children’s education, but some are not, and their children’s education is paid for by the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, which runs the school. All the children – paying or non-paying – are treated exactly the same, and no one, except the administration, knows which child is paying and which is not.

Every student is given a bright chance in life and a way to excel – according to their own special gifts and abilities.

During the pandemic, a program of virtual instruction has been developed and is being used throughout the rest of this year and beyond if it is needed. There are some challenges, of course, but it is working well. The students are making progress and look forward to going back to their classes as soon as it is safe to do so.

By Sharon St Joan
Forest Voices of India

© Forest Voices of India, 2020

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.

How you can help

The CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation operates several schools, including the Saraswathi Kendra Learning Centre for students with learning disabilities.

As well as running excellent schools, the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation conducts a great many other programs. A few of these are
– nature outings and ecological studies for high school students,
– joint projects to restore small forests,
– bazaars and training sessions to empower women to start their own businesses,
– workshops that bring back to life the unique painting skills and other art traditions of tribal peoples.

You can help by clicking on the Donate button and choosing the CPR Foundation.

Passing this link on to a friend will be a great help too!

Many blessings and thank you so much!