Happy New Year from Vanavil!
After almost two months of incessant rains we are now in the new sunny year and we take this opportunity to wish each and every one of our supporters and friends a very very happy new year.
We hope the New Year has started with a bright note for you all. At Vanavil as in many parts of Tamilnadu we had a overdose of the rains and bore the brunt (much less severe than Chennai and Cuddalore though) of the unexpected Floods. The School has suffered some structural damage as in the case of the tiled structures of the Dining hall. The Boys Hostel roof has completely blown away and is in a very bad shape. We are figuring out alternate arrangements and Vanavil really needs a separate Boys hostel now as the government also has been insisting in the past year that any male hostel needs to be in a separate building from the girls’ hostel and the School.
The last three months were also the festive season so we had a wonderful Diwali thanks to the many regular donors who help us with donations for buying children their only set of new clothes and sweets and crackers.
And with friends, who came to celebrate the festival with the kids, the rain took a break and the festival of lights was celebrated as beautiful as ever. Sibi Arasu a freelance journalist friend came to celebrate Diwali at Vanavil and wrote a nice note about the school and festival in The Hindu.
Some other festivals and events
Vanavil uses festivals for celebration and also to impart education, life skills and encourage students to perform and develop their confidences.
The 15th of October was an exciting day for the kids with the science fair they conducted. Kids up to 5th standard took up various small projects explaining day to day science to basic physics and chemistry.
The first standard kids learned and told us the health benefits of various vegetables and they also made some beautiful shapes with the vegetables. The second standard students prepared charts explaining the importance of spinach. The third standard kids took up some basic chemistry with playful experiments. They also enjoyed making racket balloons and in the process learned about air density.
The elders of the show, 4th and 5th standard kids took up basic physics. They learned and explained about insulators and conductors. They made paper bridges, making various shaped out of paper and in the process learned of how the shapes give strength to the paper bridges.
The festival mood started with the golu at October 22nd. Golu is a festival where things, dolls, and toys are arranged in lines and exhibited in every home. In Vanavil home we arranged all the tools, equipments and things category wise and made an exhibition for the kids. The month of celebrations continued with children’s day (October 17th). Sports events were conducted during the day, the children participated in various events. The winners were appreciated and given prized during end of the day assembly.
Christmas eve was celebrated at the Porakudi centre and Christmas day was celebrated at both our Vanavil School and the Neelapadi centre. The kids took the stage with dramas and dance performances. The little ones of thalir thulir sang rhymes and the 2nd and 3rd standard kids performed a drama on the importance of helping others. The 4th standard students performed a play about plastic and its damages. The program ended with a colorful dance performance by the 5th standard students.
After School Centers
Two after school centers were started to reach out to the aadiyan children of the village, and to work with them in community level. In Neelapadi 55 children attend the evening classes. In the remote village of Porakudi 35 students are attending evening centers. Thanks to Usha our donor who supports the afterschool centre project we have also started from October 5th to give them snacks during the evening and weekend sessions.
We are slowly trying to work with the communities in these two villages to ensure that all children in these locations attend school. In order to bring the dropout children to the centre and also to encourage the school goers we are conducting various extracurricular activities in these centers. Theatre, art and storytelling have been effective tools in bringing Vanavil children to like the school and in the two new centers also these activities are drawing children’s creativity and attendance.
Drama artist Vijayakumar came to the neelapadi centre during the last couple of days of the month and taught them dramas and stories. Kumar Shaw, a young and vibrant story teller, visited both our centers during the same time; the children happily participated in his engaging storytelling sessions and he inspired them to draw and involved them in creative expressions.
A parents meeting was organized at Vanavil 20th of November, and parents meetings were arranged at our Neelapadi and Porakudi after school centers 26th of the same month. The month ended with Dramas and stories at the after school centers.
Unfortunately, December started with heavy rains all over Tamilnadu. Schools were closed for the first ten days of the month.
Maintenance and Other News:
- Adding a little more color to the festival season, Kumar passed the SSLC English paper, for which he’s been studying in a Private tutorial centre.
- On October 18th we fitted two fans in our boys’ hostel making it more prepared for the summer that’s arriving soon.
- On October 18th the school cycles were refitted and on 19th the kids made fences for their vegetable gardens protecting them from the cattle.
- On 13th of October we equipped our Vanavil home with a CCTV camera, hopefully increasing the security within the campus.
- The month and year ended with visits and events. Board members Matt and Srinath visited the school and the afterschool centers December 21st and the SSA Chief Education officer paid a visit to the school the next day. Usha our donor who visited us also has bought two pairs of undergarments for all the children which would be a Pongal gift for them. The children are eager and excited about this.
- And 31st December, the last day of the year, we changed the tiles in the dining hall and are hoping that with the New Year we will be able to build a new boys hostel and raise the funds for the food expenses of the school along with fresh hopes too.
- Vanavil did its bit in Chennai cuddalore flood relief. Vanavil board members along with their friends visited the flood affected areas of North Madras and irular villages around Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram and Vandavasi. They gave flood relief materials like bedsheets, mats and groceries to 1039 irular families and to the people in gummidipoondi refugee camp. At kadampadi a village near mahabalipuram, they are planning to build houses for 28 irular families.