Aham Bhumika ran it's first Summer Camp ever in the village district Bodakho in Bhopal. The 10 day summer camp ran from the 4th of April to the 18th of April 2008.
We created a list of areas we wanted to train the children in. The intent was to provide the children of Bodakho an experience that would lure them into schools, the logistics however were daunting. We went abuzz on Facebook, Twitter and sent out Emails and Newsletters. The word spread and applications poured in. We learnt from Grain School and other initiatives that we would need to provide food as well to keep the childen motivated. The already active circle of donors made it possible. Computers, Claymodelingly, Craftwork, Phonetics, Reading and Basic Math was introduced.
The volunteers came in and the camp kicked off and ran a packed house for the 10 days. Children who were shy, reluctant and scared of the English Language on Day 1 were confident and comfortable with the language they thought was never meant for them. 99% of the three village class population saw a computer for the first time. By day 10 they could start the machine, create word and paint documents by themselves and save it. Carts, bullocks, elephants, boys, girls, farms and cities emerged out of clay. Language was being learnt through associative recognition of objects they see daily.
Computers started from an alien devise, that opened up and some things appeared on the screen. It started engaging children from the standpoint of an entertainment devise running the visual, audio and audiovisual mediums. Their own pictures, music, and movies were getting them glued to the computer. Computers then became their visual aid in things they learned in the day.
The camp started on day 1 with a record of 84 children, which we were thinking was attributed to some new faces and new activities that were thrown into the mix. This number was expected to drop because it was vacations and children would usually not want to come back to school, a place they don't like so much. To our surprise, we had our hands full till the day the camp came to an end. The aims that we initially had were surpassed by the children's enthusiasm to learn within the first half of the camp.
By the end of the camp, we decided to meet with the parents of these children and see what plans they had to educate the kid. We received good support from families for the only exception of girls and their parents. They wouldn't let their girls go to city schools alone. To do away with that mindset would take some time, but that will need a whole separate drive. As of now, we have the consolation that one girl child's parents have agreed to let her study till class 12.
School re-opens in July and we are working on the children's road-maps and keep talking to them every weekend.