Village Partnership Visit 2018
14-15th Dec. 2018
10:00 AM
Grade 11 IBDP
Mahad, Raigad

The village partnership visit to Mahad was a good opportunity for students of 11 IB to get away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai city, spend one and half day in a village and do their share of small but meaningful work for the village community.   
Upon reaching Bamnoli, a small village that was going to be the field of action, students were taken to Bamnoli school. Swadesh Foundation (with which ABWA has been collaborating for these village visits) members greeted the students enthusiastically.  A warm welcome by the school authorities and small bunches of flowers given by them were enough to make ABWA students feel very comfortable there. 
Students were then briefed about first day’s activities. This was followed by simple but delicious lunch prepared by village women. 
After lunch, ABWA students were divided into two groups:
One ABWA group conducted sessions for village students from grades 1 to 10 about hygiene awareness. This included dental cleaning, hand wash activity etc. The dental cleaning activity kits were provided by Swadesh foundation and they also trained ABWA students about how to use those kits for imbibing the importance of cleanliness in the village students’ minds. For hand wash activity an interesting sequence of actions and words was used to grab attention of the village students and to reinforce the importance of washing hands. 
ABWA girls were to conduct sessions about menstruation hygiene for school girls from Grades 8 to 10. The main issue here was making the school girls feel comfortable discussing this topic as in villages this topic is not discussed openly in a group. ABWA girls realized this soon and instead of getting directly to the topic, they conducted some icebreaking activities, using Marathi or simple Hindi. That was quite useful and the school girls did start responding. ABWA girls covered many topics including use and disposal of sanitary pads. Swadesh volunteers were quite helpful during all these sessions. 
After the above activities with school students, the next work was digging ground and creating bamboo fences for plants in the same school. ABWA students got into action again and enjoyed doing this work. 

After the first day’s activities were over, ABWA students travelled to a resort in Mahad for the night stay. They spent some part of the evening time on planning for the next day. 
On the second day, activities in Bamnoli school started at around 8:30 after a delicious breakfast. The first session included reading, painting and craft activities for primary school students, and English and Math classes for students from grades 4 to 9. ABWA students gave their 100% while conducting these classes. Some fun activities centered around Math/English were also conducted for eliciting more participation and open interactions from the village students. ABWA students had done a good amount of preparation for these sessions and had also carried printed worksheets on the concepts to be taught. It was quite heartening to see walls being dismantled between ABWA students and village students when ABWA students sat next to/amongst the village students, tried to work through all communication/language barriers and village students also responded equally. Later ABWA students did share in their reflection that when personal connection was made by them with the village students, language or communication mode was no longer a problem. ABWA students did find teacher’s role quite fulfilling. They happily marked work done by the village students and did their best to teach Math and English concepts. 
For grade 10 students, ABWA students conducted sessions on career counselling, personality development, interview skills etc. A questionnaire was given to the grade 10 students to gather information about their career choices. Later, ABWA students made smaller groups to speak to the students as per their career choices so that specific and relevant information could be imparted. 
After these sessions, a cleaning activity was conducted in the Bamnoli village. ABWA students along with the village students collected garbage and litter from the nearby area. This was the last activity.
During the reflection session that followed, ABWA students shared their feelings and experiences. These reflections were genuine and straight from the heart. They felt enriched and there was also a feeling of having done some really meaningful and positive work. 
After having a sumptuous lunch prepared by the village women, we started our return journey. 

The two days at Bamnoli and Mahad were well-spent and did take ABWA students beyond their comfort zones, away from their mobiles, into real experiences that would definitely stay with them for a long time. 

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