Yesterday was a down day, and I spent the morning vomiting, the afternoon scurrying around trying to find a new converter (the one I brought doesn’t work), and the evening running through all of my equipment, making sure it all worked. The vomiting was probably just caused by dehydration: even though I made sure to drink lots of water, it turns out my body requires way more water when I’m out here. I’ll make sure to walk around with two water bottles from now on. This morning, Arati picked me up at 8:30, and we headed to the primary school of Pragati. (There are three school buildings, and I am going to visit the other two in the coming days, but today Arati brought me to the building with the youngest kids.) Today was the first day of school so things were a little hectic; full of that lovely first-day-of-school chaos. Most of the students who attend Pragati live in nearby shantytowns, and most don’t have a place to store a school uniform over the summer holiday. Pragati supplies each student with a uniform, and since today was the first day, some students received theirs today, and others were still in their own clothing and will receive theirs tomorrow or the next day. The building is small, with three classrooms inside and one small office, all connected by open doorways. Teachers and students walk freely through the rooms, and the chatter of the other classes is constant. These are not the closed, quiet classrooms of the west. Out back, behind the building, there are two more classes being held outside. Well, sort of outside. They are in these giant... cages (for lack of a better term) which allow them to hold class outside, but protect the students from the brazen monkeys who sometimes come around.
Even though it was just day 1 teachers were already teaching lessons; reviewing things to check what the students remembered. Days of the week, shapes, numbers, and fruits were all chanted back and forth, with children literally jumping out of their seats to answer.
I got to take a sneak peek at recess time, which involved a rigorous game of duck-duck-goose, and then it was back to lessons.
One of the amazing things about Pragati is the way they provide everything for each child. The uniforms, books, daily snacks and lunch are all provided by the school. Lunch was an amazing sight to behold. Each child is given a large silver plate, and the food is dished out one by one. Some of the children are so tiny, the plate is almost as large as they are. Then everyone perches on steps, stairs, desks, and outside to eat. Class ends by 12:30 at the primary school. Soon after lunch, the children put back on their backpacks and march out the front gate, back to their homes, where they help their parents work for the rest of the day. As for me, I had lunch with Arati, and then she dropped me back at Maggie’s, where I went through the footage I had shot today, and backed up all my footage and photos. I got some reading done and took a quick nap, and then went to see if Maggie needed any help in the kitchen. To my joy, she was making chapatis, which are these wonderful little Indian breads, that puff up when you cook them! Maggie kept saying that she wasn’t very good at making them, and said I should find an Indian woman to really show me how it’s done, but they tasted delicious to me! [Video at top] After a quick skype with the folks back home, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow’s another bright and early day!