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  • Writer's pictureTGF India

The lasting imprint it lest in my heart can never be forgotten - Albert Benny

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

​As part of the summer internship programme organised by the Gulmohar Foundation, I had the opportunity to spend many days with the students at the Perinad Buds Rehabilitation centre, Vellimon, Kollam. Away from the busy noises of the city, among these students, there was peace and a sanctuary I had not found before. The internship officially began on 21st of July after the inauguration ceremony by the Panchayat President, where other eminent members of the Panchayat were also  present. Someone said to change your perspectives from they are a problem to they have a problem and everything will go smoothly. It was then that we found out that a boy named Nitheesh has an affinity towards speeches and could learn something just by hearing it once, if he wanted to. A big deviation from the traditional views. The first day mainly involved an icebreaking session. We talked with everyone and got to know nearly everyone personally. Who they were, what they did, about their families and such details. When it seemed to the students that we were like one of them, they started to open up more.

It was in the next day that we decided to start teaching them basic English. While Meghna and Shilpa lead with writing on the board, individually went to some students and started coaching them. It can be said with certainity that when we showed them pictures, of an apple and bat, they responded more rather than when we said a for apple or b for bat. Also, connecting words with sounds seemed to work a great deal more. Though the transition was slow, they were able to change from d for bau-bau to d for dog. We could only cover 5 letters that day. Numbers from one to five was taught. We filled the afternoon sessions with cultural activities and games for the students to check their level of response. Though we felt that some students were unresponsive and hadn’t yet broken out of the shell well, nearly all of them responded really well. On the third day of the internship, we were able to cover the alphabets till J and finish numbers from one to ten. Though the students had only a vague memory of the teachings of the day before, when we gave them a quick recap, it was much better than expected. The afternoon session, we did a multi-phase drawing competition, one to colour a picture and the other to draw their own picture and colour it. All of the students responded really well and many seemed to love colouring. Many require laudable mention. Vishnu was the only one whose colouring was in straight lines, which made it look neat and tidy, probably a result stemming from his days at the ITI. Sreekkuttan had the most concentration. All our efforts at distraction was parried off and he gave us a look only when his painting was completed. Mary chichu coloured the best, though not realistic. Lijo Rajus painting was the most lifelike and had a unique resemblance to his surroundings. In our fourth day, as observed from the previous days, we revised. I was able to individually go to many students and ask them what they had learnt. Though I can’t call it perfection, many of them remembered pretty well. Going through it once more, I believe gave them a concrete base. We dedicated the rest of the day to brighten the place up. We replaced charts with more attractive and picturesque ones and we displayed the children’s drawings on the wall. We were also able to arrange all the students' art creations beautifully around the room. The interns prepared the charts from home. We also did some petty repairs. We started teaching them module two of conversational English. Day Five was probably the best day. The experiences of the previous day’s gave us a concrete basis on how to proceed. It seemed that whenever we connected things to things they are very much interested in, like music, art and role paly, they were able to grasp and memorise it more quickly. I started the day with the popular game, Simon says, with the Simon replaced with Salman, one of the interns, as it was someone they were familiar with. The aim of the game was to teach them words for basic actions in English, for example, jump, stand up, sit down etc. It went much better than I expected. After this game, we taught them greetings, such as good morning, good evening, good afternoon etc. Role playing this seemed to interest them much more. Also, taking examples of students to teach thank you and sorry gave miraculous results. Asking them to give examples and role playing really imprinted those in their memory. We went on to teach them rain clap and proceeded with the English lessons. We  also taught them some action songs such as Johnny Johnny and Ba ba black sheep, though it seemed that when we translated it they were able to grasp it easier. Though the internship was only for a short while of five days, the lasting imprint it lest in my heart can never be forgotten. The children were able to bring my latent talents and virtues to the surface. The love and care they showed is much beyond words. I would like to thank the Perinad Panchayath and the Gulmohar foundation for this opportunity.

  • Albert Benny

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