Thursday, December 1, 2011

Save Our Girls!

APPEAL:

"GIRLS ARE PEARLS"

SAVE THEM!

Ek Koshish has started a campaign to make people aware about the rising gender imbalance in society. Truly, girls are pearls, who must be esteemed as priceless!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ek Koshish has adopted the above slogan for its campaign to spread awareness and combat this imbalance.

Ek Koshish, One Attempt

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indian Tradition: ‘Ahoi Ashtami’- One Day Fast by Mothers for Well-being and Long Life of Their Sons


Unique Indian Tradition: ‘Ahoi Ashtami’- One Day Fast by Mothers for Well-being and Long Life of Their Sons
Today is the religious celebration of Ahoi Ashtami in India. In Hinduism, this ritual of  keeping fast by mothers for well being and long life of  their sons which is popularly known as ‘Ahoi Ashtami’ that falls on 8th day of Kartik month every year is the most important ritual in Indian culture and religion. This not only shows immense love and affection of mothers towards their sons but also tends to keep the families joint and united by filling the thoughts of respect and regards by sons for their mothers. This is unique tradition in India as no other country seems to have such tradition. There is a story behind this most important ritual in Indian culture and religion. 
There lived a woman with her seven sons and one day she went to forest to bring some soil to plaster the floor of house. While she was digging soil in the forest, she unfortunately and unintentionally killed a small cub like creature. She felt unhappy and sorry over this incident and came back to home. After this incident all of her sons died one after another within a year. The woman started believing in her heart that her sons died due to her sin of killing that cub. One day she narrated the incident of her killing of that cub to some wise ladies in her neighbourhood.   Upon hearing the story of that woman, they advised her to keep fast, confess and pray the Almighty Goddess Ma Bhagwati by making a picture of that cub on the wall on 8th day of Kartik which would redeem her sin of killing the cub. The woman kept fast on that day and prayed the Goddess as was advised by making a picture of that cub on the wall and after some time the Goddess blessed her with all of her seven sons. Since then, this tradition has become a ritual amongst the Hindu mothers to worship the Almighty Goddess Ma Bhagwati by keeping a whole day fast and praying the Almighty Goddess Ma Bhagwati in the form of picture of cubs made on a wall of house for the well being and long life of their sons. Really the tradition is filled with immense love and affection between mothers and sons.  

On this day Hindu mothers make pictures of cub(s) on the wall of their house or hang pictures of Ma Bhagwati on the wall and pray Ma Bhagwati as shown in the picture. For the long life of their sons, they also wear a necklace of silver beads around their neck.   Two silver beads are added every year in this necklace of silver beads for long life of their sons. Mothers keep on adding these silver beads until they die. In the day time, women/mother gather and listen to the story of Ahoi Ashtami with great devotion. In the evening they pray Goddess Bhagwati and then also pray stars for the long lives of their sons. After that they give food to the eldest lady in the house or if there is no elder lady in the home, they give food to some other elderly woman in the neighbourhood or in the temple. After that only they eat something to break their fast.
It is really a unique tradition in India only to cement the bonds of love and affection between mother and son.
Ek Koshish One Attempt

Thursday, October 6, 2011

India Celebrates Dussehra Festival : Victory of Good over Evil




India Celebrates Dussehra Festival : Victory of Good over Evil

Dussehra is one of the most popular and one of the most celebrated festivals of India which is celebrated with great fanfare, joy and enthusiasm. In India as per local calendar it is also called Vijaydashami being falling on the 10th day of Ashwin month (in English Calender this month falls in September-October every year). This festival is celebrated in memory of victory of good over evil and also victory of truth over untruth.
Before Dusserah Indians celebrate Navratra which literally means Nine Sacred Nights and during these Nine Sacred Days/Nights all Hindus worship Goddess Ma Durga and hence these nights are known as Navratras.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Rama, the eighth of the twenty four incarnations of Lord Vishnu killed Ravana or Dashanan (a demon having ten heads), the king of Lanka (now known as Shri Lanka) on the Tenth Day of their battle in Satya Yug (the age/period four five thousand years ago, in which Lord Rama reigned over people and everybody was properly looked after and taken care. We have the concept of a welfare state from Lord Rama’s period) and rescued his wife, Goddess Sita from the clutches of Ravana. Hence that day of victory is known as Vijayadashami or the Victory on the Tenth Day.
This day is also celebrated and is important for another mythological incident. It is also believed that on this day the exile and banishment of the Pandavas came to an end which connects this day with another age of Mahabharata where Lord Krishna, the 10th incarnation of God came on the earth. The Pandavas defeated the Kauravas (hundred sons of King Dhritrashtra who symbolise evil and grabbed the kingdom of the Pandavas after defeating them in gambling with cheating). As such Hindus worship their weapons etc on this day to mark the greatness of the day which symbolises victory of Good over Evil.  
This day is also auspicious as it commemorates the legend in relation to Goddess Durga, known by various names in entire India like Ma Chamunda, Ma Kali, Ma Vaishnau, Ma Sheronwali etc. The legend is this that Goddess Durga killed the  deadly demon Mahishasura on this tenth day after a continuous fight of nine days. Hence this day of Dussehra is marked as the day of victory good over demonic powers.
It is an auspicious occasion for men, women and children to commence their ventures, education, learning in classical dance and music and to pay their respect to their elder ones.
In southern part of India, during these nine days before Dussehsra,  first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity; the next three days to Saraswati, Goddess of Learning and Arts and the last three days to Shakti, Goddess of Power and Might and the tenth day is marked as symbol of victory over evil.
In India, Dussehra of Kullu (in the state of Himachal Pradesh) is well famous where not only thousands of people take part for nine days but also it is believed that Gods and Goddesses take part. People from all over the world gather there to be part of this celebration there. Similarly in South India, Dussehra of Mysore is celebrated in a grand style by the Royal Family of Mysore. Dussehra is so famous in Mysore that it is known as the State Festival of Mysore in Karnataka. During the festivity of Dussehra, the entire atmosphere is colourful. People gather in the open play grounds to enjoy a lots of live performance of folk and traditional artists, to watch spectacular short acts on the lives of Lord Rama and Ma Durga and others. There is also a stunning display of fireworks all around in the evening before the effigies of Ravana, Meghnath (Ravna’s son) and Kumbhakaran (Ravan’s Brother) are burnt amidst a great crowed of people.
If anyone gets a chance to be in India during Dussehra festival  don't miss this fascinating festival and try to understand the hidden meaning behind this festival which marks brotherhood, peace, prosperity for all.
Let's have a vow to do good forever...............
Wishing you all a very very happy and prosperous Dussehra !

Ek Koshish one attempt 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

PROGRESS OF THE ILLETRATE CHILDREN FROM SLUMS AT EK KOSHISH



PROGRESS OF THE ILLETRATE CHILDREN FROM SLUMS AT EK KOSHISH

It is rightly said in our scriptures : SHIKSHA DAAN MAHA DAAN (Gift of education is biggest one) 
Entire team of Ek Koshish feels happy and proud as the children (presently 9) whom  they have been teaching for 3-4 months are at least now ready for being compared with other school going children of the society. The Children at Ek Koshish have now started showing their keen interest in study. Some of the children has learnt alphabets, counting, reading and writing  words  etc along with some Hindi and English rhymes. They have also learnt manners.  As such in their attempt to prepare and provide proper education to the children coming from slums and under privileged society, the members of Ek Koshish have performed a commendable job appreciated by many in the society.  As a result of tremendous efforts of the entire team of Ek Koshish,  some of the public schools have shown their keen interest in giving admission to these children after judging the educational temperament of these students whom the team of Ek Koshish  has been preparing  and tuning by giving personal  one to one attention on each and every child.  If these children are sent to public schools, Ek Koshish would undertake the responsibility to bear all the expenses to be incurred on the education of these children at those schools. We hope that we shall continue in our endeavour with the co-operation and assistance provided by all our workers, members and patrons.
Congratulations to the entire team of 'EK KOSHISH one attempt' ....... as our little attempt is going to be successful....

Chairperson,
EK KOSHISH one attempt
    

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gandhian Anna Hazare Succeeds to Awake Parliament from its Slumber on the Issue of Corruption

Anna Hajare second Mahatma Gandhi



Gandhian Anna Hazare Succeeds to Awake Parliament from its Slumber on the Issue of Corruption
There has always been a lurking doubt in the mind of today’s youth whether Gandhi Ji’s philosophy of Ahimsha (non violence), Satyagriha, Anshan (fasting) is relevant. But Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption has proved its relevance even today. This movement has proved that Gandhi’s philosophy is still relevant in modern times.   
In addition to his philosophy of Ashimsa, Gandhi ji had a vision of an ideal society along with its own political and economic prescriptions. Youth of today has always raised  a question whether India should go through this route and if so, how to achieve the vision which Gandhi Ji perceived.  
People have criticised very often his vision and philosophy variously. These critics have blamed Gandhi ji as conservative and out dated in modern times and his puritanical approach was no longer helpful in development of the country. But Anna Hazare has proved and silenced all critics by giving a message worldwide that Gandhi Ji’s political approach, his satyagriha, Ashimsa, fasting is still relevant for a happy and peaceful society. Anna  Hazare by his 12 days fasting has proved the theory of Gandhi Ji that it is superiority of soul that cannot be potholed by any group of tyrants in a political system.
Gandhi Ji propounded that putting the soul pitting against the powerful ones leads to achieve the target and this pitting results in a massive public movement what we read in the history of our independence and now we see happening again in India. Really this is the mantra of Gandhi Ji which Anna Hazare has espoused not only to fight against the entire political system but also has successfully awaked the people of India to fight collectively against the virus of corruption in a very peaceful and non violent manner.   
Like Gandhi Ji, Anna Hazare has also envisaged an equal and egalitarian society and he boldly declared amidst lacs of people on Ram Lila ground today that he believed in decentralisation of power. Hazare declared that it is the centralisation of power which is the root cause of corruption. Hazare believed in village based economy and political system which would certainly eradicate corruption from top to bottom.
Anna Hazare has astonished the entire world by showing power of idealism and spirituality and their relevance in progress of a society with values. It seems that it is for the first time after Gandhi Ji that Hazare has succeeded in raising his voice in a Gandhian Way. It is the victory of our people who have supported him fully throughout India and abroad. It is symbolic that people too believe in the power of soul and want to live in a world of peace and harmony if people like Anna Hazare leads humanity.
Today is historical and would always be remembered in golden words in Indian History. Though our parliament has agreed unanimously to adopt many of the provisions of Jan Lok Pal Bill as proposed by Anna Hazare, but the important question is that people of India rising above all other things have stamped a mandate that they want a peaceful secular society which would be corruption free. Some people have raised a question that it would lead to conflict between the parliament and the people. But they are wrong in their thought due to the reason that Anna Hazare and his uncountable supporters throughout India and abroad who participated in this mass movement against corruption were just conveying their message and sentiments to the parliament where elected representatives of the people were sitting and watching silently this virus of corruption ruining the people. Nowhere in the entire movement it was evident that people were challenging the duly elected Government and the Parliament.
 JAI HIND ..............

EK KOSHISH One Attempt


Monday, August 22, 2011

Festival of Birth of Lord Krishna










Today is Janamastami  i.e. Birth of Lord Krishna.  People in India celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm.
Ø  Many people keep a fast on this day, usually a waterless fast until the birth of Lord Krishna at mid night.
Ø  They spend the day immersed in Lord Krishna's glory by reading, reciting and singing HIs divine leela (incidents of life during his incarnation on the earth) especially in the evening in the temples. Temples are decorated beautifully and people visit temples to offer their prayers.
Ø  At midnight, the Lord Krishna’s birth hour, a prayer is performed. He is also installed in the form of  a child ( in hindi – Laddo Gopal)  in a decorated cradle and devotees pay their prayers and offer sumptuous dishes especially  'Makhan' (butter) and Mishri (crystal sugar) as Lord Krishna loved this in His childhood which may be seen in may of His pictures with Makhan and Mishri.
Ø  After prayer, devotees jubilantly sing and hail Lord's incarnation in their hymns and devotional songs
This festival is celebrated totally with a devotional feeling towards God having Him in the form of an Infant which means Almighty is not away from human beings at any time. He is delicate like a newly born child.... to get Him, human beings just have to have self realisation and pure heart like God Himself.
In addition to above, in many cities like Mumbai, people take part with great enthusiasm in a game which is called ‘bursting of dashi handi’. In this game, an earthen pot full of curd and butter is hanged high on a rope and children and young boys try to break by making human pyramids. There are competitions and prizes on these events and this year the highest dahi handi is prized for 10 million. This bursting of dahi handi symbolically means exposure and eradication of evil.
This festival is also symbol of harmony and equality in the society and people celebrate this festival with great brotherhood.
Team of Ek Koshish one attempt is also celebrating this festival with great fan fare. Sweets and other gifts have been distributed to the students. Ek Koshish do believe that this year Lord Krishna will burst the dahi handi of corruption. May Lord Krishan bless Anna hazare and entire India to succeed in eradication of deep rooted corruption....

Jai Lord Krishna
EK KOSHISH one attempt 
  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

India Wakes Agaisnt Corruption











Anna Hazare’s anti corruption movement is in full swing in India to make India corruption free. Anna has boldly declared that it is an other freedom struggle but now it is against corrupt people of our own society to make the common people free from their shackles.  
Corruption is immaterial for the rich and ruling class as they can afford any thing whether inflation or anything else. But what about the lower and middle class of people that form more than 90% of Indian population. It is this class of people which is badly hit by corruption. Each and every government department from top to bottom is found to be corrupt practically realised by each and every citizen of India. The common man is put to lot of hardships and it has become difficult to make both ends meet as prices of essential commodities are rising constantly due to corruption. Anna believes that our freedom which we got at the cost of sacrifices of lacs of people of this country is at stake due to corruption and unless it is uprooted, the country will not be free in its true sense. Therefore, a peaceful war has been started against corruption with the help of immense support from people.
But the question arises why this movement is being opposed by the ruling party and their supporters? The ruling class boldly declares that Anna Hazare’s anti corruption  movement is unconstitutional and un-parliamentary which cannot be accepted in a democratic set up like India. But why this ruling party forgets that the very first word of the Preamble of our Constitution i.e. “We, the people of India...” makes is abundantly clear that Constitution is not separate from the people who have sworn it. Parliament is nothing but a house of representatives of the people. Then how can this movement of people throughout the country be blemished as un-parliamentary or unconstitutional?
It is very strange in the Indian democracy that the ruling party is ruling over the country having only 15-20% votes in their favour and opposing this mass movement of people in India. If a person thinks rationally it is evident in India that 90% people (may be 95%) belong to lower and middle class and these people are badly hit by corruption. Rich and ruling class can afford corruption in any situation. Rather this rich and ruling class prospers only due to these bacteria of corruption. Who does not know the names of various big corrupt poliotician, ministers, officers etc who are under trial but nothing is happening. It is a common phenomenon in India that some people adopt corrupt practices and amass uncountable wealth. In turn wealth brings them power. And with this power and wealth, these corrupt people govern over the country keeping the lower and middle class at back foot.
Jan Lok Pal Act is nothing but a sort of deterrent over the people who are in the government in any position i.e. politicians, ministers, officers, judges etc. If a person performs his duty in duty bound manner, there should not be any fear of any deterrent. Tough Opposition by the ruling party against this anti corruption movement is indicative of malafide intentions of the corrupt people in the government.  Why not deterrents should be there in the democracy? How many examples can one quote regarding punishment of corrupt people who have been awarded severe punishment by Indian Courts? How many examples one can quote about confiscation of this immense wealth of a single corrupt person? Name any politician who have made efforts or raised voice against the thousand lacs crores rupees black money in swiss banks? Whose money is this? How many people know about it? From where was this black money earned by these corrupt people? They have sucked the blood of this poor and middle class of India and when someone like Baba Ram Dev raised the voice, how the innocent public was thrashed by police in the name of law and order in the midnight. Just think who were the people who ordered the police to fire tear gas shells and lathi charge over the sleeping people taking part in the movement? Is this Indian democracy which provides everyone fundamental rights enunciated in the constitution?  
Just think, if the people like Anna Hazare have started to view a better tomorrow for common man with no corruption in India, What is wrong? What was Gandhi Ji doing for our independence? What was his motive? Isn’t Anna has the same motive, of course this is a fight against corruption which has become rampant in all spheres of our society.   
Really in Anna Hazare, people of India see emergence of another Gandhi to fight against the virus of corruption. Anna Hazare’s movement is purely based on non violence like Gandhi Ji’s movements for our freedom struggle.
Let us make ek koshish, one attempt to make this movement a success for our bright future and prosperous India. Look at the pictures above, if they are happy to see this movement at its baby stage, just think about their happiness and development when we will have our country corruption free...... again a golden bird.......
    BHARAT MATA KI JAI ....................................................JAI HIND  
Ek Koshish one attempt



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Celebrating Raksha Bandhan with Children at Ek Koshish






Raksha Bandhan (Raksha means protection and Bandhan means bond) is the name of a festival which is celebrated across the country irrespective of color, caste and creed.  It is the festival of bond of love between brothers and sisters. Today it is celebrated throughout the country with traditional fervour and enthusiasm. On this occasion, sisters tie Rakhi (Rakhi means a thread duely decorated) or sacred thread (a simple red or yellow thread) on the wrists of their brothers and pray for their well-being. Brothers, in turn, vow to protect their sisters amidst all circumstances.
For them who cannot understand this festival, it is just like tying of friendship band on friendship day. But the difference is that Raksha Bandhan is celebrated between brothers and sisters. However in India, devotees too surrender themselves before God offering Rakhis seeking protection and blessings of God. This is a unique festival by all means which causes immense love between a brother and sister. It is being celebrated since the time immemorial in Indian Culture. History is evident that whenever sisters have been in trouble, brothers have protected them from all problems with all their pelf and power.
Like all Indian festivals, the festival of Rakhi has numerous tales associated with it.  It is always interesting to know the tradition and mythology behind every festival and with the help of them the importance and spirit of any festival can be understood. The most important story about Raksha Bandhan from Indian religion and mythology is about Lord Krishana and Draupadi.
Once Lord Krishna got His hand injured while doing some work. Rukmani, His wife, immediately sent her servant to get a bandage cloth for the wound.  Sathyabama, His second wife rushed to bring some cloth herself.
Draupadi, whom Lord Krishna always took as Her Sister, was watching this incident and without waiting any more, she simply tore off a part of her sari (Indian dress of woman) and bandaged His hand.  
In return for this deed, Krishna promised to protect her from all troubles in time of her distress.
On this incident Lord Krishna uttered the words 'Akshyam' which means: 'May it be unending'.  And we see that after this incident, this tradition of tying up sacred thread on the hand of brother is continuing in Indian Culture.
In Mahabharata (the Greatest War between Kauravas and Pandavas) , we find that when Draupadi was insulted in the court of King Dhritrashtra, father of Kauravs (symbol of evils) and when Duryodhan, son of the King, tried to disrobe her in the open court, that was how Draupadi's sari became endless and Lord Krishna, her brother, saved her from insult and embarrassment.
In the medieval history of India, there is one more important and interesting tale of this bond of love between brothers and sisters.  This is the true incident which happened between Queen Karnawati and Mughal Emperor Humayun which is popularly known in India even today.
Widow queen Karnawati was ruling over Mewar region of India (Rajasthan) as a care taker empress after the death of her husband, King Rana Sanga. She was ruling in the name of her elder son, Vikramjeet Singh.
When Bahadur Shah of Gujarat region attacked Mewar for the second time, the queen, begged her nobles for support in that time of crisis but  they betrayed the queen.
Knowing this betrayal, queen Karnawati  wrote to Humayun, the then Mughal Emperor of Delhi for help. She also sent him a Rakhi and sought protection.
It is very interesting to know that Humayun's father Babur had already defeated King Rana Sanga in a fierce battle in 1527. As such there was an enmity between both states.
When the Rakhi sent by the queen reached Humayun, he was in the middle of another military campaign. He took that call for help immediately abandoning that military campaign,  he rushed to Mewar for help of queen Karnawati.
But unfortunately, he could not make it on time as the queen’s army was defeated in Chittor and queen Karnawati committed Jauhar (an act of self-immolation to protect herself from indignity of falling in the hands of enemy)
Bahadur Shah however could not go any further and had to turn away from Chittor as Humayun’s military reinforcements arrived by then to give fight to Bahadur Shah. Bahadur Shah was defeated. Humayun then restored the kingdom to Karnawati's son, Vikramjit. As such Humayun kept his word to protect the sister who sent him a Rakhi.

As such this is a wonderful festival of brothers and sisters. This festival also plays an important role in the society. This festival strengthens fraternal feelings and the spirit of kindness and goodwill in the society. This festival promotes harmonious social life by reaffirming the faith of citizens in the traditional values of love and protection fostering community bonding irrespective of caste, creed and color and highlights the importance of women in Indian society not only as a mother but also as a sister.

Ek Koshish One Attempt too celebrated this festival of Rakhsha Bandhan with its little brothers and sisters. All little sisters tied Rakhis on the small wrists of their little brothers and entire team of Ek Koshish, put tikas (putting red color and rice on foredhead)  on their foreheads, distributed sweets and some money was given by the brothers to their sisters as a token of love and affection towards their sisters. We hope that we shall succeed in our vow to protect these younger brothers and sisters from all distresses of their life through better education and training.  
EK KOSHISH, One Attempt 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Appeal to we Citizens of India to make India Corruption Free




Dear Citizens

Let's celebrate this INDEPENDENCE DAY with a vow to make India  'INDEPENDENT from CORRUPTION.

Let's Join Hands to Raise Voice Against Corruption. Let Your Simmering Feelings and Thoughts against Corruption have a Vent.

Please do EK KOSHISH (One Attempt) in your own ways...........................................

EK KOSHISH One Attempt

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Batch of Students at Ek Koshish!


Classes of children are continuously running at ours. This week, a new batch of five more children namely Mangal (10 Years), Kiran (8 Year girl), Jatin (5 Years), Bina (7 Year girl) and Priya (9 year girl) has started at Ek Koshish.  All children are very happy and pay attention on whatever is taught to them.  Mangal and Bina seem to be very brilliant students and within a period of 4-5 days, they have learnt counting from 0-9 and some of the alphabets.  They did not have any school background nor have their parents any education. They belong to the poorest strata of human society.  Priya is also intelligent girl having a little school background. She has a great potential to learn.  

Seeing these children, one may realise that God does not craft any discrimination while sending souls on earth. It is the society where shackles of rich and poor exist due to human greed and selfish ends, and opportunities are availed by human beings only on this pattern of society based on richness and selfishness. We pray God that we may go ahead in our attempts to educate these underprivileged children. We will be rewarded enough if every one of capable ones could do Ek Koshish (one attempt) to provide them education in their becoming good citizens and a future voice of our country as well as the whole world.   

We also express our sincere thanks to the people contributing with their time and funds in our attempts to take this noble venture ahead.

Ek Koshish One Attempt


Heavenly Demise of Grandmother of Our Volunteer


We are pained at  the sudden heavenly demise of grandmother of Mr Justin, our volunteer from USA, and  due to which he had to rush back home in USA. Entire family of Ek Koshis One Attempt extend its sincere sympathies with Mr Justin at this crucial time and pray God to bless the departed soul in heaven! We also pray God to bestow courage and patience to Mr Justin and his family to bear this great loss.

Ek Koshish One Attempt 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Meet our Newest Student, Karan!

Today, we were very surprised to see that our students brought a friend with them to our daily classes for illiterate children living in poverty: His name is Karan (depicted above), and he goes to an Indian government-run school in the neighborhood. Karan came knowing the alphabet and the Hindi "prathmik gyan" (how we say "alphabet" in Hindi), but he still struggles with both sets of characters. Though he can read each of the characters properly in either language, he has a difficult time remembering the correct order of the symbols and cannot recall the letters from memory. Karan's arrival marks a milestone for our NGO, as our classes have been offering the children a safe environment, where they are motivated to come, learn, and work hard to achieve their goals. We are very proud that our students are enlightening their friends to join our classes to enrich their lives with precious knowledge.

On another note, our volunteer from the US, Justin ji, has been spending extensive time with each child, especially Arun, to ensure that they properly learn the material they have been taught in their school. Arun, Priya, and Karan all attend government schools, but they lack discipline and sometimes learn material incorrectly when they practice and memorize their coursework at home. It was troublesome for Arun to forget his mistakes and relearn the English alphabet (as he had forgotten the letters "E" and "F," moving from "D" to "G," among other mishaps), but Justin ji's arduous rehearsals of the alphabet finally made an impression on Arun's mind, as he has relearned the alphabet correctly. We hope we can meet more volunteers who can help us with our mission to illuminate these children out of ignorance. Stay posted on our blog, as we have a variety of new ideas to share in the coming posts!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Social Responsibility to Educate Others in India

I am writing today because I witnessed a very inspiring sight yesterday when I was invited for lunch at a neighbor's home. The neighbor has adult children, and runs a home filled with his children and grandchildren, with the help of one maid. Though the work appeared to be very demanding, once everyone was out of the house, and I was there sipping some chai, I overheard, from across the room, somebody was reciting the English alphabet, in a very heavy accent. When I looked over, I noticed the maid herself was reading from a notebook aloud! It was quite surprising to see that this young maid, who doesn't attend any school, took the initiative to start to learn English on her own, as she practiced reading the alphabet correctly from memory. Even more surprising to me was that the family that invited me for lunch doesn't speak any English really at all: They simply enjoy my company! The maid had no access to any English newspaper, as the family only receives a copy of the news in Hindi each day, and yet the family still took the time to offer their maid English lessons. I am still surprised with what I witnessed, but it is very heartening to see that many average, middle-class people in India do want to help out their illiterate brothers and sisters in India. We should not take our own education for granted, as I never realized how precious being able to read a sign or write a message really is until I started working with Ek Koshish.


As we have been keeping up with our classes, I am posting a picture from our last lesson with the children, when we practiced dictation with the advanced class, and continued with basic numbers and letters with our beginners.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Second Class with our New Students!

Last night, we held the second class with our newest students at Ek Koshish. The children came eagerly to class, excited to learn new material, as they had been out of school all summer up until now. With Arun, we got to work on learning all of his capital letters in cursive, as he had advanced up to this level. He was having trouble with capital G, but we taught him the correct way. Interestingly enough, the cursive script we use in India is quite different from the cursive script we are taught in the US, especially when it comes to capital letters: so, I too learned how to write the cursive letters in English when in India! Arun has mastered the first half of the alphabet in cursive, and he knows all of the letters in printed form as well. Poonam, the youngest of the children, is surprisingly advanced, compared to her older brother and sister, as she knows the whole alphabet, and knew how to add and subtract small numbers. Priya was very good in her addition and subtraction practice with us, so we gave her some more advanced practice with adding and subtracting: Soon we can teach her how to carry over numbers when adding. When I spent time with Nancy, she showed great progress with her counting numbers, on her own, up to twenty, and recognizing their corresponding symbols by heart. Badal, up until yesterday, could not draw any number besides "1," but yesterday the director from Ek Koshish sat with him and helped him to be able to write the number "2" on his own! He drew the number several times for practice, and we hope that he can move on to more numbers in the coming lessons. Finally, Vicky is still having a hard time recognizing that letters aren't numbers, but he has been practicing writing the capital letters "A" and "B" quite well, and can write the numbers "1-4" like a natural now. I am very proud of our bright young students, who are desperate to escape from the life of poverty they currently lead.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Students Join Ek Koshish!


Yesterday, Ek Koshish hosted a new class of children who come from slum areas of Delhi NCR in Faridabad: Four children, Arun (about 7 years old), Priya (about 9 years old), Monika (about 5 years old), and Poonam (about 2-3 years old), attended their first class with us. In the picture, see Poonam, Priya, and Arun as they diligently took out their English notebooks and got to work at the beginning of class. Poonam is too young to join our classes, but the rest of the children have already learned quite a bit. They have been going to a government school in the neighborhood; however, they have not shown much progress with their work. They have learned the English alphabet, counting up to one hundred in English, and some of the "Prathmik gyan" (the Hindi words meaning "alphabet"), but they have not accelerated beyond this point in their studies. They live not too far away from the Ek Koshish office, so we have welcomed them into our study group. Because it was our first day with the children, we learned about what the children have already learned, their weaknesses, and where they left off in their studies since summer vacation started. We look forward to working with our new students, who are more used to the routine of a structured classroom, and we hope that they too will help their fellow students, who are struggling, but determinedly proceeding, with the English alphabet!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Volunteer Visits Jaipur!


Last night, I just came back from a trip with my host family to Jaipur, known as the famous "Pink City" in Rajasthan, a popular tourist destination! The family had to go because of some work in Jaipur, so they invited me to come along with them. Upon arriving in Jaipur, we all stopped at Amber Fort, one of the major sites in the city. This site was the most interesting of any other we had seen, as we got a chance to see what the lives of kings and queens of India were like centuries ago. The fort was beautifully decorated, with plenty of interesting features to it: Several areas had been architecturally designed so as a windy breeze could reach an area where people would sit and relax; the water that would circulate the palace would collect so that it could be redistributed and sent to gardens over and over; there were passageways that were built so that a chair on wheels could climb a flight of stairs (see picture). Seeing that such an aged structure had even had areas that were wheelchair accessible was a stark contrast to the normal planning we see in urban areas, as they are usually highly restrictive for differently-abled individuals. After we climbed to the top, we were at an area reserved for the queen to observe the commoners below her: Though the area was inexplicably decorative, time and people have demolished the beauty in one portion of the area. Notice in the second picture, how the upper-left side of the photo was carved from marble, while the right side had graffiti and inappropriate scribbles on the wall. When I discussed this with the Ek Koshish team, we all agreed that it was a shame to see such a proud symbol of Indian culture ravaged by careless people. Ek Koshish truly hopes to preserve and spread awareness about Indian culture for everyone to appreciate, and they would like to convey the message to everyone to consider how to maintain our precious culture each and every day. Another eyesore for us to witness, and capture on film, was this picture of a little bird by, what appears to be, a birdbath, with trash around and even in the birdbath. We should all be very conscientious that each and every action we take could have an effect on the most helpless of animals, and we should respect our environment. Even when we were enjoying our trip to this new city in India, these images lingered in our minds, as we want to make an attempt to make a difference and reverse the negative trends we see every day. Otherwise, the rest of the trip was great, as we visited two famous Hindu temples, "Birla Mandir" (depicted below) and "Ganesh ji ka Mandir," (where "Birla Mandir" means "Birla [a name] temple" and "Ganesh ji ka mandir" means "Ganesh's temple" in Hindi), City Palace, Jantar Mantar (an ancient site where Hindus used manmade structures to calculate astrological and astronomical phenomena), and even the Crystal Palm movie theater, to watch "Transformers 3" in Hindi (an interesting experience, nonetheless)! It was overall a really great trip, and I look forward to the next trip I take here while I volunteer with Ek Koshish!

Ek Koshish Students' Progress

In our last lesson with our students from Ek Koshish, we accomplished a lot with our students who were interested in learning. I spent a lot of time with Vicky, making sure he understood the differences between the numbers 1, 2, and 3, which he was able to write well. He was very confused that each different symbol had a different name, because at first he would say that each of the symbols were simply the number 1. By the end of the lesson though, he understood it, but he will need to practice it a lot, because he has to take a lot of time to process the information and remember which symbol stood for which number. I also spent a lot of time with him on the letter A (capital). He can also write this one well, having learned how to properly hold a pencil, but he still thinks that the letter is one of the numbers. We do explain it to him every time, and he starts to understand; however, after ten minutes without persistently asking him, he quickly forgets and thinks that it is also a number. He is very bright though, and he honestly does try his very best, it will just take some time for the information to sink in. Otherwise, he is very attentive, never gives up, and walks into class with the biggest smile of all of the children!


Badal, on the other hand, does try a little, but I believe he is simply too young to pay too much attention to our classes, since he is about only three years old. He has learned how to count to seven in English now, and he has understood some common English parts of the body, so he is capable of learning, but we have to move at a slower pace with him. He is too young to properly use a pencil as well, so we will continue with chalk and oral exercises. Ajay though, is a very difficult child with whom to work: There is a word for his character in Hindi, which I have come to learn. He is not just stubborn, but "Akru" (the Hindi word for "obstinate"). He comes with the intent to have fun, and never try to work. Then, when we give the children treats, he is unwilling to work for his treat. At first, how could we deny giving this poor child from the slums a piece of candy or other special treat we bring for the children? I didn't have the heart to deny him. But, now we have refused to give him any treats until he is willing to work. His mother, a fellow classmate of his, is very disappointed in his work, and she even encourages us to use violence with him so he can learn, but we refuse to resort to any such methods for teaching the children. We want our classroom to be a safe place for the children, to where they always look forward to coming. If he continues with this staunch attitude, we will make him miss one of our classes as a punishment: When he sees his friends earn their treats and come back from their lessons happily, he will want to come and earn his treats too. Let's see if we have to enforce this new plan of action or not!


Our other two students, Mohini and Nancy, have been learning at a very rapid pace! Mohini can recall "A for apple, B for boy, C for cat, D for dog" flawlessly, while recognizing the shapes of the symbols from memory. Mohini, having worked as a maid and washerwoman's wife for several years now, can count and recognize the symbols on paper, as she needs to know how to count to earn. Nancy, though, still hasn't mastered English counting one through ten, but she does recognize the shapes. When we mix up the numbers for her and ask her to recall any given symbol, she then is unable to do so, without us explaining to her to think of all of the symbols in order before reaching the answer to our question. Nancy has also been practicing several English nouns, after learning to read and write the first few letters in the alphabet. We are very proud of our students' progress, and we are looking forward to working with them again soon! Now, we are looking into arranging one more class, so that we can tutor two different sets of children at the same time. We don't want to handle more than two different batches of students at one time though, because we don't want to compromise the quality of education we offer the children with one on one tutoring for bigger classrooms. I am very lucky to have been helping out and working with the Ek Koshish team!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Free Volunteering in India with Ek Koshish, One Attempt

I want to talk about my experience as a volunteer in India with Ek Koshish, One Attempt. Being here has been one of the most memorable and wonderful experiences in my life: Not only am I volunteering, giving back to the desperately needy community here in Faridabad, but I am also learning so much about Indian culture and Hinduism. Working as a volunteer has been an incredible way to learn and improve my Hindi; should anyone be interested in learning this beautiful language, I can guarantee that working with "Ek Koshish, One Attempt" would undoubtedly accelerate anyone's understanding of Hindi or even Indian traditions. The Ek Koshish team is superb, as they truly care about the projects they run and the people to whom they reach out.


For example, this picture, taken during yesterday's lesson, depicts the many kindnesses of the people who run this NGO: The clothes that our student Vicky is wearing, were recently donated to him by the Ek Koshish staff, because he lacked proper clothing. The team at Ek Koshish also purchased all of their school supplies, donated all of their time to tutoring this student and his family and neighbors, and even offered their own home as a classroom for yesterday's lesson: Because of the unbearable heat, the head of Ek Koshish insisted that the children study in his home comfortably, with the luxury of air conditioning. When I was overhearing other locals' reactions to our work here, they had very negative feedback about inviting such children into one's home. I suppose they don't mind these children coming to work in their houses, but they cannot consider the children enjoying a birthday party or learning to read and write in their own homes. At least it's nice to see that the people who run Ek Koshish's NGO do not have this attitude, not even in the slightest!


As a final note, I want to emphasize that volunteering with Ek Koshish is essentially a free trip to India with volunteering arrangements ready for anyone. Of course, there is a very minimal fee for housing, but this is not incumbent upon anyone: If you want to just come and visit Ek Koshish for a day, you are more than welcome to do so; if you know anyone living in Faridabad, you can stay with them and volunteer for free. Otherwise, the very minimal living expenses here in India would be around $150 USD for one month of room and board, use of utilities, and three meals daily, all included. Though funds are very tight with Ek Koshish, they do not have any interest in charging volunteers to work and help the community. I highly recommend this experience, not only to those readers out there who are my friends and family, but to anyone interested in this sincerely altruistic cause!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Teaching More English to Indian Slum Dwellers


Yesterday, we held our "Ek Koshish, One Attempt" classes with our students from slum areas of Delhi NCR in Faridabad again! Yesterday, Vicky (about 4+ years old), the oldest of our male students, practiced using a pencil for the first time! I reviewed with him writing the numbers 1, 2, and 3, while he recited their names each time while writing them. The first time I asked him to recite the names of the numbers, he didn't understand the point of the exercise; however, he is very bright, and soon understood how it would reinforce him to learn it appropriately. He then performed the exercise properly for the rest of the lesson! We also started our first letter, the letter "A," which you can observe in the picture! It was difficult for him to grasp the pencil correctly at first, because it was such an alien concept to him; but, he soon got the hang of it. Badal, Ajay, and Mohini practiced oral exercises yesterday, learning English and Hindi nouns, like fruits, parts of the body, boy and girl, etc. Nancy, our most advanced student, practiced writing the numbers 1-10, and she also wrote the first few letters in the English alphabet. We are very proud of all of our students' progress, and we hope to be able to refine them quick enough so that we can enroll them in a school in India: Our goal is to mainstream the children into a classroom, as they are not anywhere near the level they need to be at for the time being. We will then train another batch of students similarly, so that we don't compromise the quality of our one-on-one tutoring facilities that we can currently offer our children.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Birthday Party for Indian Children from Slums!





Yesterday was a very special day for us here at Ek Koshish! Our volunteer from the US, Justin ji (we add "ji" after someone's name in Hindi as a a sign of respect), turned 24, and we threw him two special parties! For the first party, we invited the children from our school: The children didn't even know what a birthday is, so we tried to organize the party to be as entertaining as possible.  When the children arrived, they all even had presents for the birthday boy! They brought two Cadbury chocolates and fresh flowers, which was inexplicably kind for these poverty-stricken children. We purchased a cake for the children, a bottle of pepsi, chips, cookies, two chocolates each, party hats, and noise makers, so that the children could feel that a birthday party is special! Once our students finished dancing to their heart's content, they fed the birthday boy a piece of cake, which is a common tradition in India on birthdays. Then the children started eating the birthday snacks, and they were very happy to try all of these new treats, as they had never tasted pepsi, chips, or even cake before! Finally, we treated them to another cartoon, their first Daffy Duck cartoon, before the children had to get going. After our first party, we held a "pooja" (Hindi for an Indian prayer ceremony) at the volunteer's host family home, and afterwards, when the entire family was back from work, they arranged a special fruit cake and gifts for Justin ji. After the family each fed Justin ji a little cake, one by one, there was a mini frosting-fight too! Enjoy the photos and the short clip of our students dancing!