Three months ago, my friend Kafhai and I started with pre-school number 10 in a slum area of Ahmedabad.
One of the main ideas for this project was to reuse as many plastic bottles as possible for building material. Like that, we could use the plastic that is such a big problem in the streets of India and also allow the community and the children to help and be part of this pre-school. To collect these bottles, we spent a few days in the "plastic house" picking out the right bottles from a mix of different plastic and a lot of rubbish. I remember one day the bottles were up to our knees, with many flies around and a bad smell and the heat too and suddenly the owner of the place appeared with cups of chai for all of us. That chai tested like heaven!
Another day when we were each carrying a bag of bottles on our heads, a few kids on their way to school (dressed in very clean school uniforms) saw us and they were excited to see what we were doing. We explained the project (with our best Gujarati possible). The next thing we knew, they took the bags from us, placed them on their heads and carried them to the site. Their faces were full of joy...
On the first day we began filling bottles, 4 or 5 people were helping us. After a week it was almost impossible to coordinate because so many kids wanted to help. Kahfai and I were also doing other things on the construction site so we thought it would be difficult for us to manage everything at once. After a few days the kids were doing everything by themselves.cleaning the bottle, sifting the soil, filling the bottles, compacting with a stick and bringing the filled bottles to us. Once more, the kids taught me just how smart they are.
Now, everytime I see the bottle-wall I can see all those kids faces and their efforts to fill the bottles one by one, getting their hands and their faces dusty and dirty but with such a clean and pure soul.
Sometimes people ask me with surprise, how can I be in the slum working everyday with so much rubbish, smell, heat, discomfort .I always say that it is easy when you have so many kids, so many hands, so many smiles and so much love around you.
Thanks to kids of Chandrabaga.
Posted by Jesus on May 11, 2011
I believe in volunteering and that it is a powerful medium to bring about social change. And I am passionate about education that goes beyond literacy. When I am not doing either, I can be found at Texas Instruments solving interesting system problems, reading, running or just pondering (read more