Alumni Site Visits
Vivek is our Alumni from the 1st batch of TFIx who is currently running a 2-year fellowship in Kotra and Gogunda tehsils of Udaipur, Rajasthan. 34 fellows who are currently a part of the fellowship are impacting almost 6000 kids spread across 30 schools.
My visit to Kshamtalaya was marked by 3 big things- Kotra being a tribal area is surrounded by forest, a school building submerged underwater, no telephone signals. But I was happy, happier than I have ever been on seeing the kids engrossed in mindfulness, getting in touch with their being, playing frisbee and what not.
Meeting team Kshamtalaya(Soumya, Noushad, Pooja, Anjali, Vivek, and Vandana), meeting the fellows, being in their debriefs, watching them question, seeing them teach, seeing them interact with children, with community members and most importantly their will to continue to stay in Kotda and Gogunda to bring a change in themselves and the children was so inspiring. Vivek's vision is to build a Kotra University to bring change- a true example of what regional development. The culture that the team had created was truly coming alive when fellows were not only sharing their stories of personal transformation but also their struggles very openly and strongly.
On our site visits, it was amazing to see how kids as little as 5th graders were able to sit, meditate, and express what they were feeling. It makes me excited to even think about the kind of citizens they will become. The focus of the fellows here is only on how they could find a solution, learn more, and do best for their kids The resilience part became visible when I saw fellows struggling to reach schools because there is no mode of transport available. Be it rain, or insects or no electricity fellows were teaching and kids were learning. One of the fellows was from Kerala and another one from Odisha and none of the fellows knew the local language completely but they were learning and using local words in their lessons to connect to the kids. I have not seen this level of commitment, resilience, and love ever before. I came back from kshamtalaya having learned how strong leadership could really transform what excellence can look like. Vivek's vision is to establish a Kotra university to ensure all-round development of the area, a true example of regional development. If you are in Udaipur, do visit Kshamtalaya and see the magic happening. Our heart goes to the whole team for defining what commitment and perseverance stand for.
Happy Horizons Trust
Kshitiz is our alumni from the first batch of TFIx and currently running his three-year fellowship program in Simri Bakhtiyarpur, Bihar under the umbrella organization Happy Horizons Trust. 28 fellows who are currently a part of the fellowship are impacting no less than 5600 children between grade prep and 5. When you enter an HHT classroom it will look like any other government school classroom from outside but the kids laughter will most certainly make you curious. Inside the classroom is a world of storytelling, expression, joy, comfort, and most importantly love for learning. This is the magic that HHT has been creating in its classrooms for almost 7 years now. Some of the fellows have been the students of the same schools which makes for an excellent strategy to build relationship with school authorities. The team at HHT is passionate about the work they are doing with the fellows, be it classroom observations or supporting them on a regular basis. In fact, one of the Project coordinators, Jyoti, has joined staff post the fellowship, evidence of promising future these fellows hold post HHT and the amount of work that is happening to ensure that.
After witnessing the magic in the classroom, I also got a chance to interact with the fellows the next day. Despite the flood-like situation most of them turned up from as far as 50 km for spending 2 hours with me, for some of them the journey one way was longer than that. The commitment of parents who accompanied their daughters and trust they placed on the work HHT has been doing showed the investment that HHT and especially Kshitiz and Vatsala personally committed to in spite of multiple priorities. I took a simple 2-hour session on vision and lesson planning for the fellows but the unparalleled love I received post that put me at ease. One can never end Simri Bakhtiyarpur's visit without expressing gratitude for some kala Jamun, Tikri ( famous sweets), the infamous palace, and most importantly warm hospitality at kshitiz's home. I surely came back with a smile on my face.
Divakar is our Alumni from the 1st batch of TFIx, currently running a 2-year fellowship in Delhi-NCR. 35 fellows who are a part of the fellowship currently are enabling almost 2500 young adults to choose strength-based careers post 12th grade.
During my visit to Alohomora during September, I was a part of their discussion on Alumni vision. It was amazing to see how invested the team was and how much depth existed in their vision for the alumni. Four Program Associates, two of whom are 2nd-year fellows themselves were equally engaged in the discussions and thoroughly questioning. The open culture in the team ensured that Divakar and Parinita were simply facilitators on most occasions. I was also invited to be a part of the panel for 2nd-year fellows and all of them had so many honest and well-thought questions that it was difficult to believe they were still in school. It was inspiring to learn how with the guidance and confidence they receive at Alohomora fellows have been able to shift the mindsets of their parents. All of the four Program Managers at Alohomora are TFI alums, an evidence that TFI's mission is coming alive. Alohomora is currently striving to achieve a challenging goal of reaching 1 million children in 5 years with the fellowship becoming their lab to learn and work in-depth with 2,500 children. Even though I couldn't experience the fellowship this time I am sure it will be equally magical when I do. All the best, Alohomora!
Pramod is our alumni from the 1st batch of TFIx and started his two-year fellowship program last year in Bhore, Goapalganj, Bihar. 12 fellows who are currently a part of the fellowship run after school learning center for kids up to grade 5 in and around their villages everyday for 3 hours. They are currently impacting 700+ kids. Pramod himself belongs to Bhore and has a deep commitment to the place
On my visit, as I entered the village I could sense the cultural differences in the community. A lot of mindset shift is still needed there and it made me realize the struggles and at the same time why Pramod chose to start Prakash Academy in the first place. The fact that Pramod has built great relations in the community made it so much easier for us. I went to visit the learning centers, some of them situated under the sky, some in small rooms with husk covered roofs devoid of electricity and space. But it was heartening to see fellows teaching and kids studying. All the teachers had whiteboards, markers, and mats, presenting a contrast to the outside space. Rain and ongoing festivities ensured I couldn't see all classrooms but wherever I went I could see the potential that these kids hold. I interacted with fellows and it was interesting to see they were confident enough to ask questions and express opinions which in itself was an irony to a culture where girls don't step outside their villages without a male accompanying them. With us, they felt safe and this was a growth by virtue of them being fellows for the past year. Upon asking all of them whether or not they had dreams they did and were either working or willing to work toward them. I was so glad to see Prakash Academy is not just limited to the LCs, in order to make sure kids don't drop-out post 5th grade, which is another challenge, the team has also started Navodaya classes for kids who have been performing well at their LCs.
Pramod's recent innovation of a portable device called Jindagi.net is going to make sure kids can access quality content on their phones and laptop without the internet connection. Connectivity continues to be a challenge there. Pramod and his team are really making a difference where it is truly needed. Here is their website in case you wish to explore. We wish them the best!
Our Coach Ishita visited Swatantra Talim. Here is what she has to say about her visit:
"Rahul is our Alumni from the 2st batch of TFIx, currently running a fellowship program in a village 90 km away from Lucknow. The program caters to students within the age group of 6 to 16 years at a learning center in the village. Most of these students go to the government and private schools in and around the village and then join the learning center in the afternoon. The vision with which Swantrata Taleem works is to infuse creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking amongst the students by providing them with opportunities to learn beyond the 4 walls of the classroom. Currently, there are 3 fellows who themselves are drop out students from schools. These fellows work along with full-time teachers in order to support students in their respective groups academically and overall development. During my visit, I got an opportunity to interact with these fellows and students and witnessed what joy in learning can look like in action. One of the groups of students is currently working on devising a solution to a key problem of garbage disposal in their village by doing research and using innovative methods. The biggest highlight was to see the students develop immense confidence in their own potential and operating with a problem-solving attitude."