Reflection on India (July 2017)

Mainalli July 2017

My third trip to Mainalli brought smiles, laughter, and learning. I was able to see children I’ve been building relationships with, and continue to work at the Balwadi school with the teacher Sangeeta. At school we worked on writing and recognizing the English alphabet on the student’s individual chalk boards. One of my favorite stories from this summer involved a young four-year-old boy who worked hard on his English writing. When I first arrived he seemed lost and unsure how to start learning to write the letters. I worked with him everyday and when I left three weeks later he was able to write A-K by himself. The children there love learning and learn quickly when we are able to interact with them every day. We also used English board books that had pictures of animals and daily life objects that engaged the kids in curiosity and conversations about the books. When we had 3-4 teachers at school everyday we were able to do small group teaching and the students rotated through all the stations with each teacher. Stations included puzzles, books, flashcards of the alphabet, writing in their chalk boards, and sorting plastic colored insects. The students are able to have more individualized instruction with the small group teaching and they can experience activities that benefit a wide range of developmental and educational skills. I always enjoy school days and although I can’t communicate well with the students because of the language barrier, the universal language of love and laughter make my days gratifying.

I organized a blanket drive and collected over 150 blankets for the Siddi children. I was able to bring blankets for all the children in Balwadi, the girls in the hostel in Mainalli, and the boys in the hostel in Gunjavati, as well as other Siddi children in the villages. The Wellesley Hills Congregational Church members and friends in Massachusetts helped fulfill this request and desire for blankets. Each child got their own soft fleece blanket to use at the hostel or bring home to keep them warm on the colder nights. My hope was that these blankets will bring warmth and cover the children with care and support from our community in the US to their lives in India.

Through the generous donations from Dr. Ali at the Wellesley Dental Group, and Dr. Ford in Brookline, each child also received a new toothbrush to help their daily health and hygiene.

~Katie McCabe

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