No child’s education should be deemed complete, unless the child has worked with his or her hands, and with the Earth, mud, soil, sand, whatever one might call it… this is has been my firm belief! Sadly nowadays, most children do not even get to see Mother Earth, let alone a chance to play in it, or work with it! The travails of development and urbanization!
However, for students who are part of the NSS or the National Service Scheme, things are brighter, especially in the rural environs, where there is still a glimpse of brown earth, an abundance of greenery and the mindset conducive to dignity of labour. I actually witnessed all of this at work!
About 50 odd plus one students of the local Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, studying for Commerce and Medical Lab. Technician courses in Cherplassery had week long NSS Camp, at their school, ably guided and led by their NSS District Convenor, Shri Krishnanunni T., who was also their Programme Officer, and other teachers.
It was a joy to share in a day’s effort, on 28th December, 2010, the last of four days, they spent in the interiors of a bucolic, നാടൻ (naadan, typically of the countryside 🙂 ), widening a narrow pathway, ഇടവഴി (itavazhi, as we say in Malayalam) wide enough for a small vehicle to pass. The idea of linking the main temple, on the roadside, the famous Ayyappan Kaavu, with the Devi Temple atop the hillside, “Arakav” had long been in the offing, but the feasibility of it all not quite there, till a request came from the School authorities who were, simultaneously, looking for a place where their students could interact and work with the community, while serving them as well.
The road to the temple, Arakav, after which my dad’s house has been named, has been fraught with a lot of trouble and legalities. Finally, in consultation with all those in the neighbourhood, the area to widen the narrow pathway was decided, and the children arrived at the most opportune moment to hack out the boundary! Lo and behold! In four days’ time, most of the road was done. Of course, there is still a finer finishing, and the completion to be done, but the start could not have been better!
Last year, the school’s students undertook actual paddy agriculture in a field kindly provided by a local family. The experience, say the students, was indeed enriching!
This blog post is not about the hows and the wherefores, it is about them, the children, and their guides, the staff. Each of the four days, they had been provided with wholesome food, by way of the locals in the neighbourhood, and on the final day, they were given a sumptuous lunch, cooked by the members of the temple, and others who pitched in with whatever they could. Take a look!
The road, after their work, looks pretty much like this 🙂
There was also an impromptu thanking session, where the Panchayat President, Shri Suresh, made an appearance, along with the HM of the School, Smt. V. Girija. Some members of the neighbourhood also spoke, one of whom recalled the words of their NSS song, given below in Malayalam.
സുരഭില ജീവിത മാതുരി വിശ്വം സമസ്തമരുളുകയല്ലോ
ഹൈന്ദവ ക്രൈസ്തവ ഇസ്ലാമിക്രുടെ
The lyrics, quite simply put, speaks of the need to have a clear and pure mind, no matter what religion or community one may belong to. It exhorts us to have our duty or dharma as the path towards truth! It also urges each of us to join hands and move forward in harmony. The song, sung, full-throatedly, by the young children gave us goosebumps!
Another wonderful thing I noticed, as I walked around and spoke to them was their uninhibited expression, both, to each other, and to the staff and elders gathered there. Most the students were from families who could just perhaps afford to send their kids to a Government School, but then I was proud of them, the way they carried themselves, and their comport, during the impromptu speech session we had. They listened closely, no fidgeting, no giggling, no talking. Sheer amazement, it was to me, this sight! Ever so often, in our own elite and up market schools, the teachers have to work so hard, and insist on the kids keeping quiet during functions, and here… where they did not even need to control themselves, was a group of young men and women totally involved in the moment! Kudos, my dear children! It was inspiring!
Here are the videos of their effort! Enthusiasm personified!
The second one, the song they sang during a short break!
The last one, walking up for lunch, having successfully completed the task!
On a totally unrelated tangent, I find it v difficult to insert pictures into the blog post 😦 Have been trying endlessly, but to no avail. The insert picture tab simply does not open! I have to open it into a new tab and do the needful and then only one appears 😦 😦 One picture ie! Help! 😦 😦 Sigh!
That is why this post has been delayed, else it would have been done yesterday. Thankfully the videos are working :D!
29 December, 2010
Edited to add, on 30 December, 2010: Finally managed to get a few pictures in! The problem was with the memory cache.. which was cleared and then the required menus opened 🙂 Still adding pictures 🙂 2.40 pm 🙂