Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An OTTP Day Ends with Children's Meeting

I am slowly developing a great appreciation for water. Using it efficiently is the difference between one trip to the handpump or two. Water left over from poha washing and vegetable rinsing is used to clean dishes. A metal pot stores this general use water. Another pot stores filtered drinking water. The latter pot is made of clay which keeps the water pleasantly cool. Yes, water has much more meaning than it did a week ago. Turning on a faucet will never be the same.

Today was a one-trip-to-the-pump (OTTP) day. That was a plus. We picked up the list of registered pension-receivers from the Block Coordinator in Baneda. This means we can start the survey tomorrow. Another plus. The two hours spent preparing daliya and bhindi for lunch led to non-burnt and delicious, deeply satisfying results. A constant breeze was a natural air-conditioner. The day just kept getting better.

We planned for our first children's meeting today at 5 in the evening. A group of four kids showed up at 4:30. We told them to come back at 5. At 4:50 they showed up again and we politely shooed them away. Ten minutes. Come back in ten minutes.

It was 5, with no child in sight. We waited for ten minutes. To my relief, those four returned, more shy and very giggly. A few more joined, bringing our attendees to about twelve. We made a neat circle and were on name intros when a cacophony of high-pitched voices made their clamorous entry. They were still in their school uniforms, a blue button-up shirt, dark pants. Some buttons were missing, some patches were roughly sewn up. Now we had about fifty 8-10 year olds on our veranda, along with a few in the post-toddler stage. Forming a circle took some time.

For the next hour, we played a highly disorganized game, asked who went to school (a little more than half the kids), and asked them to ask us questions. A few brave ones spoke up, or volunteered others as the question-askers. What's your name? Where do you live? What village are you from? That was all we got from them.

They were hyper. They were loud. I talked too much. When Nikhil clapped to get their attention they all clapped. A few curious adults stood on the stairs, doling advice as they saw fit. Get hold of a stick. They'll listen then. We made it clear there would be no beating here. The next meeting is on the coming Sunday. Suggestions on how to hold the attention of pre-pubescents are most welcome.


  1. Try giving out some candies to the kids -- that will definitely grab the attention :P

  2. To keep kids engaged, find out their interests - what they like. If its cricket/movies/school - talk about it. And yes Candy does help.

  3. Have a poster/ picture cards with rules for fun for all. It can be 1: Raise your hand to talk
    2: Listen when someone is talking
    3: Respect others and respect yourself
    4: Hands to self
    5: Remind friends to do the same

    It may be a lot to begin with. You can ask the kids what rules they might like for the group.
    Here is a teacher talking!