Life is but a dream, and at DRIK, learning but a theme

The students and facilitators come together alongside with other DRIK members to share one single goal to address the fundamental inequities in our education by shifting the notion of a school from a fixed place, to experiential learning in different locations, utilizing different and diverse learning design formats.

DRIK succeeds in doing this by channelizing knowledge and understanding created at numerous dimensions– physical, emotional, cognitive and psychological, in ways that interact together, resulting in a holistic and transformative educational experience for the students.

Our Youth Ambassadors Impact Communities.

GANGARAJU

FROM MOTLUR VILLAGE SAYS

My name is Gangaraju. I am from Motlur village. This area is 10 kilometers from Chikkaballapur, and one hour’s drive from Bangalore.

My world was very small before DRRT and AVAS came into my village. At that time, my personality was not like it is today.  I was very shy and scared and had low self-esteem.  I used to hate my village and I believed in the caste system.

After DRRT and AVAS created platforms like DRIK Jeevanotsava and DRIK CEF, they changed me a lot. I got confident, I have love towards my community, and am now against the caste system. I fight for gender equality and am a leader in my community.

I have done more than 850 social entitlements for my community people.  My community always approaches me for help. This potential and strength were given to me by AVAS, DRRT and the DRIK Jeevanotsava platform.

We have always been told that DRIK Jeevanotsava values shouldn’t be like water in a pond or lake.  Instead, our values should be like a flowing river. Keeping this in mind, I spread my service in Bandahalli and Kandawara slum.

Bandahalli is a village which is on a rock bed.  For 70 years this place was neglected by the government and political leaders. Women in this community were unaware of their rights.  They didn’t have fundamental facilities like toilets. Our DRIK Jeevanotsava children and people from this community started to tell us their problems.

Our organization listened to the plea of the people and tried to find solutions. We educated the community people on women rights and their responsibilities, we developed leadership among women and youth.

We successfully used innovative ideas to build 68 toilets for the community. From our organization,along with government help, we were able to make house list documents.

Similarly, in Kandawara slum, people from this community were economically backward and very poor but they had very good values in them. They were not selfish and they were well-wishers of others. But they were deprived of their housing rights.

We conducted many meetings in this community. We united the community people and educated them on their rights, duties and government projects.

We organized many health camps and are still organizing health camps in the community.

Now we are constructing houses for them with the help of the Government and DRRT. We are also conducting Jeevanotsava programs to develop leadership qualities among the community children.

I believe I have changed these three communities to some extent. This is possible only because of DRIK Jeevanotsava values and the support of AVAS and DRRT. The values that I learnt from DRIK JEEVANOTSAVA helped me change the thinking in these communities.

As an individual Gangaraj is nothing. As part of an  organization like AVAS and DRRT, I am a leader.

DRIK Jeevanotsava values are deeply entrenched in our heart and mind. Anithamma always told us “A leader is not the one who has followers,he is the one who creates more leaders.”Therefore, as a leader, I am now motivating the next generation of children towards leadership and educating them on rights and issue-based learning to help them create model villages.

Because AVAS and DRRT worked in my village there was DRIK Jeevanotsava and DRIK CEF. And because of these organizations and programs we are able to see many leaders in our villages. Being part of an organization like AVAS and DRRT has  helped us to change our thinking and made us “rights oriented”, responsible people.

I would also thank RCF for the support it has given to our entire Jeevatma team.

SHILPA

FROM NALLAKADIRENAHALLI VILLAGE SAYS

My name is Shilpa.  I am from Nallakadirenahalli village located in hilly hinterlands, 10 kms from Chikkaballapur, in Karnataka, India.

I have been participating in DRIK Jeevanotsavafor the last 10 years and I have gained a large amount of courage through our songs, dance, and theme or issue-based education.

We are four children in our family.  It was very difficult for our parents to provide education for all of us. Similarly, there were many other parents and students like us. I feel DRRT understood our problems and started DRIK CEF for poor children. This fund has helped many children for education.

At first, I was very shy and nervous to speak in public, but now I have the courage and confidence to speak in public and speak to officers about our facilities, issues and rights.  This was made possible by our DRIK Jeevanotsava program.

Now people in my village come to me for help for several things such as getting Voter ID, Aadhaar card, caste income certificates, pensions and other social entitlements. I am completely involved in helping them.  I got this helping nature from the DRIK Jeevanotsava Program and I am inspired by DRRT and AVAS work. Now I motivate my community people to take responsibility for their family and community.

It used to be very difficult for us to reach a hospital which was far from our community. DRRT constructed one health centre for our community and now a doctor attendsto our community once a week. They brought Sarvodaya (SIT-KC) also to help us for the centre. My heartfelt thanks to Appa and Anitamma for giving me this opportunity to become leader and help in many rural communities. I would like to thank them on behalf of our community people.

ASHA FROM JANASHAKTHINAGAR (ERSTWHILE HOSAKEREHALLI)

I am from Janashakthinagar, the new name given to our layout which was earlier the Hosakerehalli slum. I am the eldest daughter for my parents Jairam and Latha. We lived in utter poverty in our huts in what was called the Hosakerehalli slum. Our elite neighbours would call us ‘the mosquito huts community’ as we lived in extremely dilapidated huts, and in a congested space. During this time AVAS came to our area to organize people to fight  for our land and shelter rights.

There were so many  children in my area and they were not doing anything in the evenings. DRRT joined hands and started a program called DRIK Jeevanotsava, which means ‘celebration of life’. Earlier when we returned from our schoolswe used spend our time infront of the TV. DRIK Jeevanotsava really changed the life style of all the children. Every week on one chosen day a teacher from DRIK came to teach us dance, songs, drama and value based stories. It helped us to grow holistically. I was the oldest child in Jeevanotsava and i took the initiative to teach other children twice  in a week in my area. This motivated many children to become part of DRIK Jeevanotsava.

I always wanted to study further beyond my schooling. To overcome the economic situation at home, in the mornings I did domestic work, and then went to college. It was tough keeping going with all the challenges. Many children who wanted to pursue higher studies could not due to financial crisis’ at their homes.

DRRT saw our struggles and started the DRIK Children’ Education Fund, ie. DRIK CEF. I was the first bank signatory for the group which was modelled to make us into responsible young leaders. This education fund helped us to study further. I was the first young person including girls and boys to complete my B.com through DRIK CEF. After me many others were also benefitted and completed their education.

After I completed my B.com, I took up a job as a flower decorator and beautician, two skills that I equipped myself with. I worked for another person who paid me wages as per my work. Once i learnt the work properly I began to take orders individually, and today I want to share with deep pride that i was able to build a 4 floors house on the land that AVAS fought and got for us, and iam even able to repay the loan without any default.

Everybody is appreciating my entrepreneurship qualities and my mother is proud of me too. I am married  now and i told husband that he should allow me to continue working!

I also motivate other children when there is DRIK Jeevanotsava in the area and i share my life story with them and encourage them to be a part of this movement. All the little children in my area treat me as their role model, and I continue to teach them all the values and leadership qualities that I developed and learnt through DRIK Jeevanotsava and DRIK CEF . If these programs  were not there we wouldn’t have been what we are today.

I am thank full to APPA (Dwrakanath Reddy), for when we didn’t have water in the area he provided us water and electricity. He also gave us education through DRRT and I feel that God used Anitamma as His tool to come in to our life’s and make us what we are today.

I am so happy to share my story.

ANTHONY

FROM SUDHAMANAGAR SAYS

I was born years after Anita Reddy had come to our area to help the people there. When I was a small boy my parents used to tell us that from 1978 she worked relentlessly and had managed to convince all concerned authorities to adhere to peoples dreams and aspirations for independent houses. As our families grow we could develop our homes incrementally. AVAS helped us solve our infrastructure and housing problems. Water was a big issue but now we are all settled well. They taught us to struggle for our rights and win.

I was involved in all the DRIK Jeevanotsava programs from many years. We participated actively in drama, dance and music practices and performances. But to me the encouragement and opportunities I got in sports in the Jeevanotsava platform is what changed my life to who I am today. Football became my passion and I practiced hard as I learnt the value of perseverance and determination in Jeevanotsava. I play National level Football today and am a leader for many youth in my teams. The DRIK CEF helped many children in my community who are in higher studies. I pursued my dreams for excellence in sports. And I remember that when Anita amma helped me buy the first couple of pairs of special shoes for football that I could not afford then my dreams got ignited to action. I want to thank her and her friend Latha amma for their encouragement.

MUNIKRISHNA.G FROM NALLAKADIRENAHALLI VILLAGE SAYS

My name is Munikrishna. I am from Nallakadirenahalli village which is in the interior regions, about 10 kms from Chikkaballapur city.

Despite all the development around us, in my village,people had no education. They would work for their livelihood but they were very innocent. DRRT gave an opportunity and direction for such people to live, to learn and to meet one another through its activities in the rural areas and through DRIK Jeevanotsava programs.

She (Anitamma) was a light for our path. She educated us through DRIK Jeevanotsava. From 2005, when I was studying 1st PUC, by participating in DRIK Jeevanotsava, I have learnt many art forms and gained a lot of knowledge. Today I am socially and culturally aware and responsible and moving forward with my life.

Through DRIK Jeevanotsava, I learnt social responsibilities and it is the reason for my intellectual growth. Now I have completed my post graduation and am working in Williams International College as a librarian and NSS officer.  I am successfully carrying my responsibility by using the strength given by DRIK Jeevanotsava.

I completed my education by using the DRIK CEF fund. It was the backbone for my education. This fund also helped many other children and youth who were about to dropout from schools and colleges to successfully complete their education. It is a unique way in which a scholarship like program keeps growing to help others as we the youth take direct responsibility for it to self- manage the finances once it is given to any of the rural or urban groups formed for this purpose.

Overall, DRIK Jeevanotsava is a package of love, kindness, justice, truth, social concern, humanity, cultural awareness, cultural heritage, environment awareness, protection and leadership.

RAGINI FROM GOLLAHALLI VILLAGE

I am Ragini, and I come from Gollahalli village which is near Chikkaballapur in Karanataka. My village is very small. Near my village DRRT set up the DRIK Viveka campus where they started a program called DRIK Jeevanotsava, and had inspirational week end camps every Saturday and Sunday. I was then 13 years old and my brothers is used to go for this program. I began to accompany them. There would be dance and music, and theater that would be meaningful for us at the DRIK Viveka campus. I began to enjoy learning there in the DRIK Jeevanotsava program.

Amongst the first things I learnt from DRIK Jeevanotsava was to understand that we were all equal. Until then our villages were all divided on caste basis. But the DRIK Viveka campus was a great levelling space as all of  us used to come together and play, dance,sing and act with absolutely no divisions amongst us. We would learn about our rights and we were exposed to learning values by actually putting them in action. After this all the village discords and schisms also began to break down. We are all much more united now.

My personal development was also happening simultaneously. Initially i used to get scared to stand before others and speak , but today I am able to speak in front of hundreds of people. If there is injustice iam able to question the situation.I learnt so many values in DRIK Jeevanotsava to become a good human being. DRIK Jeevanotsava moulded my life completely. In the villages, girl children either dropped out in the 7th class or at the most went upto the 10th.  It was hard for parents to give children higher education even if they wanted to as they could not afford it. That is when the timely starting of the DRIK CEF program  in our villages enabled us to not become drop outs, to pursue higher education through this platform, and become leaders as this program made us take direct responsibilities, manage our own accounts, and made us the bank signatories of the group accounts, guiding  us to lead many other children too. This helped me to mature into a confident, and stronger person where I learnt my rights and values through DRIK Jeevanotsava and DRIK CEF.

Seeing my skills in music, and dance, and ability to work with and lead children in the villages I was taken as a Jeevatma team member to organize other village communities and children in Government schools. I beagn to feel the difference in myself and the courage I had developed to live upto my convictions and I felt empowered to enable others.

APPA (Dwaraknath Reddy) cared about us and started the programs to empower us. Our lives changed after Anitamma came. I want to say that DRRT, AVAS and RCF have given me golden opportunities and I want to thank all the organizers who supported me in my growth.

SUVARNA FROM MRS PALYA SAYS

I have 3 older sisters, and an elder brother who passed away recently on the same day that my father did. Despite this double tragedy I knew I have to face up to life and give courage to my mother who is diabetic and my older sisters. Our family was very poor and I had to work as a domestic worker to substantiate the family income. I would go early morning to work and then come back to a Government school until I joined DRISHYA started by DRRT. AVAS was working in our communities helping families get proper housing and secure land rights. At that time DRIK Jeevanotsava and DRIK- CEF, two initiatives to develop leadership in children and youth were being promoted by AVAS and DRRT, and I soon became a leader in these movements.

I owe my life’s shift from poverty to prosperity to Jeevanotsava and DRIK- CEF, as I became enabled to pursue higher studies with help from RCF too. I completed my M.Com and now work in a company where within the first year I was recognized as a valuable contributor to the development of the company also. Today I know I am a good daughter, a responsible youth and a good citizen in the society. I lead children from other communities too and I will ensure that more and more children and youth get empowered. I feel so happy when I see Anupama today. As a young adolescent girl she was being forced into child marriage. On the verge of a miserable calamity she ran away from home and got swallowed into the dark nights of an unsafe city like Bengaluru. I stood by her and gave her courage to live up to her convictions. With help from AVAS and DRRT I got her back into studies at Drishya where she finished her 10th standard and is now doing her B.Com degree. She is becoming a leader and encouraging other young girl children to pursue studies. This is how we are all becoming leaders in the DRIK Jeevanotsava movement empowering the younger generation.

VENKATESH

OF MOTLUR VILLAGE SAYS

My name is Venkatesh. Iam from Motlur village near Chikkaballapur. I have been coming to DRIK Viveka Campus for DRIK Jeevanotsava programs since 2003.

DRIK Jeevanotsava has given village children an opportunity to come together.Through this program we have learnt many values such as discipline, love, trust, leadership, unity, responsibility and brotherhood.  I was also able to learn dance, drama and songs and I was able to share these skills in my village and other communities. I also learnt KAMSALE, a folk form in dance, and I am teaching this to other children as part of the Jeevanotsava program..

I enjoy sharing what I have learnt through this program.  I was able to gain confidence, and this has motivated me to become a good leader. DRRT recognised my talent and values and gave me an opportunity to serve in DRISHYA Kalika Kendra, another education program for children of urban poor communities, as a facilitator in Bengaluru. I was able to teach value based education to the children. In DRISHYA we follow learn and teach method through practical activities which are very near to our personal life struggles.

What I learnt in DRISHYA, I was able to share in communities and in Government schools. It also helped me to mould my own life and look after my family. I am grateful to DRRT for this opportunity and to Anitamma for being there for us.

KEERTHANA FROM MRS PALYA SAYS

I am a youth leader and I owe my leadership development to the skills and values I picked up as a student of the DRIK Jeevanotsava program that AVAS co-ordinated in our area. I feel that in schools and colleges we just learn out of text-books. But in this program we learn real life lessons. I observed the elders in our community, and began to recognize my role as a responsible citizen. I participate in community meetings and I am learning to resolve the area issues. I want to become an independent leader and solve the issues of our community children. I teach children after school hours and even my parents are happy to see me do this. AVAS and Jeevanotsava have changed my life.

NAGESH

FROM GOLLAHALLI VILLAGE SAYS

My name is Nagesh and I am from Gollahalli village, near Chikkaballapur in Karnataka.

In 2003, when I was studying for my SSLC which is the 10th grade level, DRRT started DRIK Jeevanotsava in DRIK Viveka campus. JEEVANOTSAVA means CELEBRATION OF LIFE. And that is just what it turned out to be for all of us. Children were participating in JEEVANOTSAVA with joy and happiness. We used to gather in hundreds from neighbouring villages. This enabled us to develop our abilities and our talent. We were taught folk forms of dances and songs which tell us about social issues and values. The songs and dance helped to create awareness  and develop our skills. We all together participated in many street plays and stage dramas where we presented our values and created awareness to the society. We also learnt about traditional art forms like hand painted Kalamkari which was fading away. We focused on social issues like harassment of women, caste and religious discrimination.We performed “BHAVRI” drama to create awareness on child marriage which was rampant earlier in our region.But after Jeevanotsava began this has reduced completely.

Children from Motlur, Gollahalli, Nallakadirenahalli, Balaguntahalli and Doddeganahalli used to come to JEEVANOTSAVA along with us.Though we are all from different communities and caste we all united together and participated in the programs at the DRIK Viveka Campus. We were formed into a “youth leader group” and  we were given responsibilities like helping  senior citizens, forming women’s groups, pension,  and organising awareness programs. Anitamma guided us throughout this process.

At the same time there were many health camps conducted by AVAS and DRRT. We used to take patients for treatment, organisers  used to take us and educate us on the issues and problems people are facing.

After that, SHILPI program was initiated at Campus.We learnt to make jewellery, masks and idols from mud.Ateacher was appointed for us. He taught us how to mould the mud and how to bake it. He also taught us fibre moulding. Through this, we also learnt leadership. We also helped children from nearby villages in drawing and painting, songs and dance.

In the villages it is difficult for children to study because of financial issues. It prevents manychildren from going on to higher education, so DRRT came up with the idea of DRIK CEF. This helped many children to go for higher studies.The purpose of DRIK CEF is to give a fund of money to the group.  The group then manages this fund. Students can take money from the fund and repay in 10 instalments. A 11th month instalment is also paid back, so that fund will grow for future beneficiaries. Through this we learnt how to open a bank account and how to manage the fund. I completed my B.com through the support of this fund.  After that I approached DRRT for a job and I was able come to Bangalore  to work in DWARAKA in the year 2010. Here I learnt about the show room and its products, and also sales and  marketing techniques. I learnt how to speak to customers and to keep accounts.

Through DWARAKA PLUS I attended many exhibitions and I got a lot of exposure. Today I am working in DWARAKA in the accounts department.

What I learnt in DRIK Jeevanotsava, I am inculcating in my life. I have become a good leader and example for others and I have great joy in this. I developed the capacity to understand the difficulties people go through in life and resolve them.The person who is responsible in changing my life is Anitamma and her organizations. I am grateful to her.

MANJAPPA OF MOTLUR VILLAGE SAYS

My name is Manjappa.  I am from Motlur, near Chikkaballapur in Karnataka, india.My village is in the middle of the forest.  People from my village were unaware of their rights for their basic needs.

When I was young, organisers from DRRT and AVAS came to serve in my village, and they told us about the DRIK Viveka campus which was a walking distance from Motlur. They spoke of a program called JEEVANOTSAVA started there by DRRT that would be fun for us children to see and join if interested. Out of curiosity we all went. We were introduced to different programs in dance, drama, sports, quizzes and debates. The program also  educated children and parents on their rights.Through the cultural programs, they were able to give us good values. The only intention of this program is to teach children to become good citizens and leaders of our country and I believe that is how I grew up.

During that time, many children from our villages were not able to go for higher education due to poverty. Seeing the condition of these children, DRRT started an education fund called DRIK CEF. Through this fund, children were able to continue their education.  I am also a beneficiary of DRIK CEF and with this help I have completed my D.Ed and M.A. 

As days passed on I learnt of an innovative educational centre called DRISHYA that DRRT had opened in Bengaluru for the children from urban poor communities where AVAS was working, and gave me an opportunity to serve as a facilitator in the  DRISHYA Kalika Kendra.  I was a Science and Computer Facilitator. Education in DRISHYA was full of values. Today we continue this form of education in Government schools and communities.

I was able to mould the children I taught with good values and it was also a learning for me.  I want to thank Anitamma who started all these programs and Anju amma who supports me now through RCF  for giving me this opportunity.

SANTHOSH FROM VYALIKAVAL COMMUNITY SAYS

I live in Vyalikaval slum. My parents migrated from Tamilnadu to this place 60 years ago. There was nothing in this area or surroundings then. It was like  waste land.  We lived in a small thatched home. I am the last son among the  five children of my parents. As days passed on, in our growing up years we were faced with lots of problems. Vested interest elements wanted to chase us out from this place calling us anti-social just because we were poor.  Our entire slum was ‘rescued’ by   AVAS from the jaws of demolitions. We struggled very hard, and all our elders got beaten several times by politically motivated goondas.

Once we got empowered with lot of awareness meetings, discussions , follow up with governments and courts , we built  secure houses and got absolute land right documents also registered for most of the families. AVAS, with support from DRRT helped us to build the people before building the houses. Thanks to the extremely innovative approach to education at DRISHYA concept learning and activity centers today I am what I am . Humbly I want to say that  we are the productive citizens of the  city and  all the youth  and children are getting educated higher and higher utilizing the DRIK CEF also. Many of us are graduated and mastered in engineering , commerce and arts. And many are working in corporate and IT companies. Once upon a time we lived in utter poverty with absolutely no amenities and  proper roof . Today we are the proud citizens of this locality and in the main-stream of the society  in all respects though we belongs to the SC/ST category.​

RAMESH.S 

FROM MOTLUR VILLAGE SAYS

I am Ramesh from Motlur village. DRRT is the reason behind my success story today, because in DRIK JEEVANOTSAVA we have learnt so many new things and values,  and we are still learning.

JEEVANOTSAVA is like an university of values which helped me to develop leadership qualities. Through this we have learnt equality, to love everyone, to understand the world and to face the challenges thrown at us in life. This also gave us courage and strength to deal with difficulties in society.

Songs, dance, drama and social awareness programs became an active part of our lives through DRIK Jeevanotsava and this is what directed us towards striving for a better life and society.

We are living life with fortitude and determination, which we have learnt from the opportunities given to us by DRRT. Today I am not  dependent on any one, and I am living Independently on my own.

DRIK CEF helped many poor students like me to complete our university education, and we are no longer scared of problems and difficulties.

Today iam a trained Pilates fitness instructor and with the support of RC Foundation we got a placement also in Koramanagala, Bangalore.

I am, and will be always be a student of DRIK Jeevanotsava. To conclude in simple words.“DRIK Jeevanotsava has given me a good life, and shown me the direction to live with values.”

BASAVARAJ FROM NALLA KADIRENAHALLI VILLAGE SAYS

My name is Basavaraj, I am from Nallakadirenahalli,a village far away from the town of Chikkaballapur.

Though we had talents in us as children,we came from indigent communities and we had no opportunity to bring out the best in us.  In the year 2003, DRRT started a program called DRIK Jeevanotsavain DrikViveka campus.  I was able to come with other children to the campus and learn many things.For the last 15 years, I was able to participate in so many programs such as drama, dance, songs, terracota, folk forms, Dollukunitha, KAMASALE  and sports.Through these, I was able to learn many values such as leadership, patience, peace, help, unity, sincerity, justice, love, respect, struggles and equality.Ilearnt all these through the JEEVANOTSAVA program and it also helped me to teach other children.

After this, I got an opportunity to serve in DRISHYA KallikaKendrasfor the children of Bengaluru slums. I was able to teach practical education, how each child has to be individuallymoulded to become a better leader for their own community.

What I learnt in DRIK Jeevanotsava, I was able to teach in DRISHYA Kalika Kendra. Not only was I able to teachthe children, but I was also able to learn from their life.Now, I amableto share the same values in Government schools and communities where it is impacting 600 to 700 children. I am motivating the children to seek a change in their own community and also in society.I am also motivating my community and my neighbouring community youth to take leadership.I am thankful to DRRT, AVAS and RCF forthis opportunity.

DHANALAKSHMI 

FROM WAHAB GARDEN SAYS

I am a Jeevanotsava leader. I also am an account holder of DRIK-CEF, the Children’s Education Fund in our area. Now I am a teacher and a leader. We,  the youth, are very thankful to AVAS and DRRT for having provided many young girls and boys opportunities for higher education and youth empowerment programs. I have been brought up in a situation of constant struggle for  land, housing and better living conditions. Today we are very lucky to be in big posh houses with all amenities. I humbly thank AVAS for  empowering women on all aspects of life today.  Women are socially and economically  empowered and are educating their children in our area. We have benefitted and changed. We now work in neighbouring communities to help them also to change.

RAJESH

FROM MRS PALYA SAYS

I always wanted to be  a responsible leader in Society. I had no direction or goals and felt lost in the community. After DRIK Jeevaotsava came into our lives everything changed. It gave me the confidence and courage to become something in life. I live my life like the leader that I feel I am today.

PRASHANTH

FROM MRS PALYA SAYS

I studied in DRISHYA and learnt values and leadership in DRIK Jeevanotsava. I was born and brought up in MRS Palya slum and with support of AVAS and DRRT I was able to pursue my education, finish M.Com and am now placed in a good multi-national company earning well. I also benefitted by the internship I did in DWARAKA and the encouragement I got there.

ARJUN FROM SANYASIKUNTE (erstwhile slum) SAYS

This is my life story. It has unfolded with the Blessings of Sri Ramana Maharshi and the inspiration of beloved Sri.Dwaraknath Reddy appa. I live in Sanyasikunte slum with my parents Mariyamma and Subramani. When I was 7 years old I joined  Drishya , an educational initiative founded by DRRT. I finished my 10th standard in 2013 and joined my junior college level to continue education.

However at that time there were also compulsions of my family needs for economic survival and I decided to take up an opportunity in DRIK Jeevanotsava team as I had myself been greatly benefitted by the experiences I had in this cultural empowerment movement. I had an opportunity to go to summer camps sponsored mostly by DRRT, and I learnt the Dollu Kunitha at Shankara Foundation. I also learnt other folk lore dances that were an expression of our rural heritage. I performed and showcased my skills in college which were highly appreciated. That motivated me to continue becoming a cultural facilitator and leader in teaching other children and youth with the dance skills I learnt. I have developed 4 teams in Bangalore,  Chikkaballapur, and in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.

Working and learning from the AVAS team I learnt to solve community issues. In my community I am recognized by my peers and elders as a leader. I help families and empower them with their social entitlements. I have done in the past year or more 200 to 250 Voter ID cards, 18 Death Certificates, 68 Aadhar cards, 13 Aadhar corrections, 29 Caste and Income Certificates, 8 Ration cards, 20 Pensions, 24 Pan cards, 13 Birth certificates, 184 Land Documents with other community leaders. The big challenge that I recently took up was in resolving the drainage issues in the area that had become a nuisance despite our in-situ housing being completed. I reach out to people who need support in health care or hospitalization, in education for their children and linkages to Government schools, problems faced at the city Corporation BBMP offices etc. I feel so happy when my people say if there is a problem call Arjun, he will help us to solve it.

My thanks to AVAS and DRRT for supporting me right through, and for RCF for supporting me as cultural facilitator.

IMRAN, AFRIN, AND MOHAMMED SHARE THEIR STORIES.

“I am Sayed Imran. We are a joint family with me, my sister Afrin and my mother Arifa living together sharing our home and life with my mother’s younger sister Afthab who is hearing impaired, her husband who is mentally challenged and their son Mohammed, my cousin. My father, an alcoholic left us in our younger days and my grandmothers love kept the rest of the family bonded to each other. From the age of three, I was shifted around every few months to a different town, or city and I never really settled down till I joined DRIK Patashala in Chittoor. This schooling institution was founded by DRRT.

After joining in DRIK-Patashala, all our lives started changing slowly. There is no doubt, our DRIK-Patashala is 100% different from any other school, even when compared to any Government schools, Corporate schools orInternational schools. Here we don’t follow any textbooks. Our learning philosophy was based on the fact that knowledge is needed but it shouldn’t be acquired by rote learning of books.

In our school, we called our facilitators akka and anna. The Intent was to develop family like bonding among the students and teachers. Akka and anna taught us through songs, dances, drawings and also by educational tours exposing us to all possible things with values. We were able to learn all our subjectswith interestthrough audio- visual learning, and experiential exposures. 

All the children were given nutritious snacks in the morning, a healthy meal in the afternoon and snacks in the evening. The main motto behind DRIK Patashala was to give free education to all poor children and provide all facilities like transport, uniforms, bags and shoes, and food par excellence. The health care was also taken care of. There is so much to say about our heavenly school. Nearly a hundred students grew up here over a decade and more. I finished my 10th standard here and we had the opportunity to finish the 10th grade levelexam, the Andhra Pradesh Open School Certification. Don’t under-estimate our knowledge by seeing our open school certificate. I believe the way we were educated we had much more awareness and knowledge of our rights and responsibilities, and I feel we are really better off than any other school students. Taramma, an educationist and Snehamma, our mentor in mathematics, both Anitammas friends, were suggesting newer methodologies to our facilitators based on Anitamma’s guidance for a right’s-based approach to formulating the curriculum.

 

Taramma once came to our school and sat with us. She is an expert in music. We were singing a song about components of food, and the need of food for survival. She noticed that I could sing fairly well. After few months some of us got the opportunity with DRRT’s support to learn at Sunaadin Bangalore. Soon we improved in music and in our later years shared our music skills in college platforms too. Another unforgettable experience for me as a young boy was when Snehamma gave me some mathematical puzzles and problems to solve.She soon came to know I love mathematics. After few months she offered me a chance to write a crossword which is fully mathematical. I did it along with my friends. After completion of that it was printed in a famous mathematics magazine, called At Right Angles by Azim Premji University. When I saw my crossword in such a great magazine, I felt so happy. For all this Anithamma supported me so much.  When I entered intermediate in college, my sister, Afrin and cousin, Mohammed were in 7th standard in DRIK Patashala.

 

I joined in R.K. Vidyalaya Junior College, Chittoor, in the year 2014. There I studied Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. DRRT helped me to join and complete my intermediate education. In 2016 I completed my course there, and joined in PVKN Govt. College, Chittoor for my graduate studies. There my subject was, Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

 

Afrin joined Intermediate course at Krishnaveni Govt. Junior college, Chittoor. There she got a good name in curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. She has good singing skills too. In every occasion in her college, she and her friend Sathya, who also studied at DRIK Patashala used to sing and teach music to their friends. In the first year of Intermediate or junior college, Afrin and Sathya were in 1st and 2nd positions in academic results also.

In 2017 Mohammed joined Intermediate vocational course at PCR Govt. Vocational College, Chittoorfor a course in  Physiotherapy. He was so skilled in physiotherapy and he usedto practice those exercises and massage techniques on all of us, family and friends. He completed his course by 2019.

When I was in degree final year(2018), Afrin joined B.Sc. Nursing at SVIMS, Tirupati and Mohammed joined theBachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy in an institution near Chandragiri, Tirupati.

I finished my bachelors and I am now doing my first year of my masters degree in Tirupathi now. I am being helped a lot by the DRIK CEF support and I find that this is very helpful for our education. How it works is that a group of students of various classes from 8th standard to Post Graduation manage a joint account with money given by DRRT to help us in higher education. In my group there are fifteen studentsand we are encouraged to open a joint account with the money given. My friend in DRIK Patashala Malik and i are leading our DRIK CEF group. We manage all bank transactions and accounts ourselves and the money which is repaid is used by us again in the following year, until we finish our studies. There is no more debt in the families and we are independently taking leadership and responsibility.

DRIK Patashala is the place where education is provided along with a bowl of values which are helpful for successful life. DRIK Jeevanotsava is a platform where one can learn many things other than classroom education. We learn songs, dance, music, drama, mime, stories, drawing, painting. All these art forms are purely traditional. No film songsare taught to usthat have no values to teach. I was first a student in the DRIK Jeevanotsava network. Today I am a DRIK Jeevanotsava volunteer teaching other children the values I learnt over there. I improved my capabilities to be a leader there. Mohammed and Afrin also started giving us support from 2016. I am so thrilled that this year, 2020, only youth like me managed the whole DRIK Jeevanotsava program with 60 children attending on an average. Now Malik, Rehaman, Venkat, Lokeswari, Steeva, Afrin, Sathya, Mohammed and I are working together to learn things from our peers and also trying to teach things like songs, dance, art, crafts, painting etc. to the children. We are now a team that came together at DRIK Patashala (except Venkat who joined through our college friendship) and we look forward to leading many more children.”

 

Afrin adds to the story and says,

“We always celebrated  Ganesh Chaturthi, Ugadi, Krishnashtami, Ramzan and Christmas in a grand manner. Irrespective of caste and religion we came together and celebrated all the festivals inanunique and united manner. I specially enjoyed the Rangoli formations as they helped us see colour in our lives. I also enjoyed getting rid of all that’s no good in our lives, not just physically but symbolically even emotionally or socially during Bhogi celebrations, and then all of us would cooktogether ‘Pongal’ to celebrate Sankranthi or the harvest festival and wisheach other so much of love and good cheer in the years to come.

Also my memories of DRIK Jeevanotsava go back to all the thematic events we did since 2007 and how much we learnt from our sessions on topics like the Panchabhootas-the five elements, I value my grandmother, the 4 friends on a holiday-the ant, the spider, the donkey and the elephant, or, the victory of good over evil where Ravanas ten heads that spelt doom were replaced with ten heads that spelt hope. In each of these programs we had long hours of planning and practice and its these processes that really taught us so much. Each program was embedded in a value system and that has left its mark on innumerable children.

 

          Along with my friends I went to Shankara Foundation in Bangalore. I learnt the Bharata Natyam dance form there. Along with that I have also learnt Suggigunitha, Poojagunitha, Thaala, Tamate, Pulivesha etc. all different forms of folk dances. These are the opportunities that made me confident in my life at college or outside.Academically I topped the class in my college and that made me feel so happy as on all fronts I am learning to work hard and succeed.

 

When my father didn’t care to look after our family and left us all to fend for ourselves, DRRT has not only helped me through my higher education, but with all that I learnt at DRIK Patashala, I live it in practice today, and that has made me a recognized leader in my college.”

 

Adding to the life’s journeys of the three children in this joint family Mohammed says “I echo the joy and sentiments shared by my cousins Imran and Afrin on the tremendous influence DRIK Patasahala and other DRRT initiatives like DRIK Jeevanotsava and DRIK CEF had on us in our childhood and growing years. With my father mentally challenged, and my mother hearing and speech impaired, I was brought up by my grandmother and aunt who supported my entire family. So we cousins grew up together close and were fortunate to have been exposed to such value based and ethical learning and knowledge. We were brought up with love from our teachers, and with guidance of Anitamma. After I finished my 10th in NIOS, I was unsure of my future and what career I would pursue. And then I saw that there were very few physiotherapists in our region and I got the opportunity to join a course at junior college level. Now with support from DRRT I am doing my undergraduate studies also in physiotherapy. After 4.5 years I will be a full fledged physiotherapist and that’s when I want to repay Appa and Anitammas support to us by serving others in need and that’s my goal.”

 

Imran and Afrin add“we want to share about our mother Arifa who now leads a womans group as part of the DWARAKA initiative called RATNA center. She was the sole bread winner, and now our aunt Afthab has also joined and she earns too. They are two strong women who won the struggles against my alcoholic father, and a mentally challenged uncle. We are proud of them as they shown us how women can be empowered and lead. And as Mohammed says our grandmother was a pillar in our lives. We will give back to all of them when we are on our own feet.

And finally we want to add that today we live in a better home because of the help we got from DRRT.We share our story with respect to Appa (Dwaraknath Reddy) and to the trust he set up called DRRT which is steered by Anitamma. Thank you for giving us a beautiful new life.”

Evolving a Relevant Community Rights Based Curriculum

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