Celebration Day!

Today all the children, from the CRS slum schools we have been working in, were invited to spend the day taking part in lots of activities arranged by all the UK teachers. It was lovely to see all the children together with all the teachers that do such a fantastic job working in the slum areas of Kolkata. 

 

Having all of the children together from the CRS schools really emphasised the importance of the charity and the work that they do, improving the lives of thier children and giving them a chance of a future free from poverty and hunger.

 

Never before have the children had an opportunity to leave their slum and take part in a sport festival.

 

The day began by the children arriving and being given breakfast. 

Whilst the children ate their breakfast, a ventriloquist entertained them with songs and jokes. The children loved joining in. Then, we began the activities - football, team games, wheelbarrow races, cross the swamp and sack races. The children loved the games and enjoyed using equipment they had never seen before. 

 

We had a break for lunch where a magician entertained the children. After finishing the final activities we had to say goodbye to all the children from BD Colony. 

 

We are very sad to go, but excited for next year and all the plans we have in between. We have set up communications with the teachers in our partner school so we can send videos and ideas from the UK and we can see how they are getting on in Kolkata. We plan to continue posting resources to our school, as we have this year.

 

We hope we have not only made a impact on the school during our visit but hope we have further developed our supportive and respectful relationship that will continue between our schools. 

Arpan Mahila Samity - a very rural school

This morning, we left the hotel at 7 o’clock and headed towards The Sundarbans - a mangrove swamp south of Kolkata. We were on the coach for 5 hours but were able to see how the city changes as you travel out to the country. We saw children washing in the pond outside their school, goats being herded along the road and lots of markets selling everything from lightbulbs to second hand bike tyres.

 

When we arrived we walked along a lane towards the boat. We were lucky enough to see some monkeys in the trees - Mrs Wyer even spotted one with a baby. Further along the lane, we popped in to visit the tiger rescue centre, who rescue disoriented tigers from local villages and help them return to the wild. As well as a rescued Bengal tiger, we also managed to see three crocodiles!

 

At the end of the lane was a pontoon where we boarded a boat to travel to Arpan Mahila Samity school which can only be reached by boat between October and March, so we were very privileged to be able to visit. After travelling for about an hour, we pulled up at the bank. We climbed up the clay bank and into the mangrove swamp.

 

After a short trek we arrived at the village and were blown away by the tranquility and beauty. The children welcomed us to the school by throwing petals and we met with all the teachers and village elders. They were so excited to have visitors and shared how they were growing as a school and becoming a community hub. You could tell the building supported everyone - from the young boys playing cricket after school to the elders being able to meet up centrally.

 

It was a privilege and pleasure to see how CRS are able to run such amazing projects in rural areas. 

 

On the trek back, we spotted a snake swimming in one of the paddy fields!

Second teacher training day.

Today we have done our second teacher training day. We began the day by repeating some of the songs that we taught the Indian teachers last session. We then split into two groups, to help them with either using the English language or phonics. Miss Martin took a group and make pipe cleaner people. This was to help teach about general conversation revolving around body parts, actions and greetings. Mrs Wyer taught phonics and how to make phonics fun for the children. She also worked on the pronunciation of all of our English sounds. We then had lunch (various curries!).

 

After, we videoed how to pronounce all of our English sounds for Bishu and his team to use whilst we are not here. After lunch we taught various maths activities revolving around books and language development. After that we taught them a few more songs, which have been put onto CD for the teachers to take back to school…if they have a CD player…

 

Last of all we then presented all of the Indian teachers with some resource bags to take back to school.

B D Colony - 'We have fun in our hearts!'

Today, we have had the most amazing day in school! We arrived and immediately began singing and playing games as the children arrived. They loved the Hokey Cokey and enjoy learning to play giants, wizards and dwarves (just like rock, paper, scissors). Just before school started Mrs Wyer challenged the school to a football match which everyone loved - until the ball went over the fence...

 

We then split into groups. Mrs Wyer taught phonics to the younger children and helped the teachers recap the phonics activities. Miss Martin set up a maths investigation for the older children who loved finding multiple answers to a problem.

 

Next, Miss Martin read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as it has both English and Bengali writing, Kamal (a B D Colony teacher) helped with reading the Bengali. The children found the story really funny and learnt a lot of new words! Meanwhile, Mrs Wyer met with the other teachers to discuss phonics teaching at B D Colony and the next steps for planning and teaching.

 

Finally, we all joined together to make caterpillar paperchains and hats. The children became really confident with the body parts of the caterpillar and some could retell the story.

 

Overall, we had a fantastic day with lots of smiles and laughs. The children are making the most of our visits and the teachers are growing in confidence and using some techniques that are completely out of their comfort zone.

The slum of B. D. Colony.

Our journey to school.

Happy Birthday Miss Martin!

Miss Martin has had an unforgettable birthday in Kolkata! Hip hip hooray!

Hi Owls!

Thank you for your message.

In answer to your questions:

All of the children walk to school, some have shoes but some do not.

They love dancing and singing. Today we taught them The Hokey Cokey and they LOVED it! They loved running into the middle and holding hands (just like you guys!) and Mrs Wyer fell over in the middle of the song! We also had a game of football, until someone kicked the ball over the fence...

The children really love oranges, but they don't get to eat them often. We are going to buy them some oranges tonight to take to school.

 

Miss Martin says she misses you lots and can't wait to get back and tell you all about her adventure.

We would love to hear from you. Please send us a message!

Teacher Training Day 1

Today we gathered together with all of the UK and Kolkata teachers and did some phonics and maths training. We are really pleased as the teachers had not only remembered the phonics from last year but have been teaching their children phonics daily and say it has had a real impact. We used magnetic letters to show the teachers how they could help their children to read. They especially liked learning the different blending techniques. We also showed them how they could to teach phase 3 phonics (digraphs i.e. ee, oo, ai, sh, ch, th etc).

 

After lunch we taught maths and concentrated on using language of size i.e. big, bigger, biggest, small, long, short etc. We used a book and resources to help them understand this new language. We also discussed hot to used a number line using the language of more/less.

 

 

 

Thank you for your questions Aaron and Isla. We are having a great time though it is very difficult and hard work. It is very hard communicating with children and adults who do not speak English- and our Bengali is terrible! We are very much looking forward to going back to school tomorrow but unfortunately there were so many name (40+ children) that I cannot remember their names. There is a teacher called Kamal and one called Bishu.

 

Hopefully we will see them get some food tomorrow. We have bought them some sweets and biscuits that we will be sharing with them when we are there tomorrow.

Welcome to B D Colony!

This morning we had our first day at B D Colony. It was great to visit our link school and  lovely to see all the teachers and children. 

 

When we arrived they had prepared a lovely sign to welcome us. 

As the children arrived we gave each child a flag and crayons to colour. We exchanged greetings and learnt each other names. We learnt some Bengali words for each colour and were able to teach some English words. The youngest children in the nursery had only started last week - like us they can start when they are two and a half.

After everyone had settled, we taught phonics, using some of the new resources we brought with us. Then, we read and explored 'We're going on a bear hunt'. We set out a bear hunt and used cards to sequence the events of the story.

Mrs Wyer worked with the younger children and they made a bear mask so they could discuss parts of the face. They also retold the story with props. Miss Martin worked with the older children to create split pin bears and learn parts of the body. We also used some sequencing language when retold the story.

Thank you for your message Harrison. In answer to your question, we are staying at Dee Empresa Hotel. http://www.deeempresa.com It isn't quite as nice at it looks in these photos though! Miss Martin's toilet is leaking and Mrs Wyer has broken curtains, fridge and light in her room. We can't complain though as we have a roof over our heads and full tummies- unlike a lot of the people we have seen in Kolkata. There are not enough jobs for everybody here and many jobs are paid very, very poorly meaning a lot of poeple, including children, do not have homes to go to. We are very lucky living in Loscoe!

 

Please go to our 'messages' tab and leave us a message. We will repy when we can! 

Big day tomorrow!

It is a big day tomorrow. We are going into school for the first time! We are both feeling nervous but also excited. We will be taking all of the amazing resources that you all donated. We can't thank you enough for all of the resources you brought in for us to take. The suitcase is ridiculously heavy and we have managed to make up 8 packs of stationary! One for each child. You can see the packs in the pictures below. Even after we had made all of those packs up we still have a bed full (see below) of things to give them. A MASSIVE thank you to all that donated.

 

All of these resources are essential to the children. They have no money to buy their own and rely completely on donations. I bet they will not have had their own pencil before!

 

We will also be looking at what they have been learning since Mrs Wyer visited last year. She taught the teachers all about phonics and how we can use it to help children read and write. Throughout the year we have been sending out resources to help with the teaching of phonics. We can’t wait to see how they have got on.

 

 

Cathedrals, Memorials and Boats.

We started today bright and early at the 8.30am cathedral service. Everyone was very welcoming and St Paul's Cathedral was beautiful. We enjoyed listening to how the cathedral and it's congregation help support the work on CRS.

 

After the service, we walked around the gardens of the Victoria Memorial Garden. There are a collection of Queen Victoria's dresses within the museum and a statue of her. This memorial has close links to Kedleston Hall with a statue of Lord Curzon in it's gardens.

The Pareshnath Jain Temple is made up of 5 different buildings.

Queen Victoria Statue

Before lunch, we heard about how CRS has set up 9 schools within the slum areas of Kolkata over the last 20 years. The majority of the 450+ children within their schools are the first generation of the family to attend school. We also heard about their Freedom project which aims to empower people and help them train for jobs they would like to do.

 

This evening we went on a Ganges River cruise. We saw porpoises swimming in the river and many people washing themselves, and their clothes in the river. We stopped of at a Hindu Temple which was realy as today was a special holiday day.

Our first day in Kolkata

After dropping our bags at our hotel we set off to visit The Pareshnath Jain Temple. The temple was built in 1867 and is made up of 5 different buildings.

The temple was deorated in thousands of tiny mirrors and mosiacs.

Our hotel

Bear is off to bed now! Night night everybody!

And we're off!

Today we embarked on a 13 hour flight to Kolkata! Our flight from Birmingham set off at 1pm for a 6.5 hour flight to Dubai, followed by a quick dash across Dubai airport to the second plane that took us to Kolkata where we landed at 2am (7.30am Kolkata time). You can see a tour of our plane at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P9a0KfONrU. 

 

We have now arrived at our hotel at 5am (10.30am Kolkata time) to 22C and glorious sunshine! Time for some sleep!

A view from my plane seat!

Returning to BD Colony - 

On Friday 11th January, Mrs Wyer and Miss Martin are travelling to India to help teach maths and phonics at our partner school in Kolkata. Before we go, we are asking for donations of note pads, pencils, pens, rubbers and pencil sharpeners to make a pack for each of the 80 pupils that attend the slum school in B D Colony. Please raide your childrens' unwanted collections and bring any donations in by Thursday January 10th.

 

Whilst we are there we will be updating the school facebook page and this blog daily. We hope that you will take the time to support us by sharing this with your children. 

 

Since Mrs Wyer went last year we have been sending resources over to help the teachers in Kolkata. Some of our students at Loscoe have taken part in our £30 challange. This is how much it costs for the school to provide one of their pupils with one meal a day for an entire year. A massive, heart-felt thank you goes to all those that have supported our school in raising £1, 429. We have managed to raise money to feed all the pupils at  the India school for 6 months. 

 

If anyone would like more information, or to see what happened last year when Mrs Wyer visited India, please see the previous blog posts or speak to mrs Wyer or Mrs Martin.

Loscoe to B D Colony Journey

 

Last teacher training

What a great day! It was very sad to say goodbye to all of the Indian teachers and our interpreters today. They have been the most wonderful hosts. I can honestly say that I have learnt so much this week and I know that this trip has made me a better teacher. Joy, love and laughter are what make life special. Even though some of the people I have met have been very, very poor they are rich in love and joy. Kolkata is poor in many ways and life here is very different to ours at home. But there is lots we can’t learn from the people here. However, the children here still need our help and there is so much we can do to help and make a real difference to their lives. 

Last day at school!

It was my last day at school today. The teachers had asked me to show them two songs to help teach them maths so I taught them ‘1 little elephant’ and ‘10 ripe mangoes’ (to the tune of 10 green bottles). The children and teachers were very good and joined in when they could. 

I taught a maths lesson to the younger children and one to the older children and they were fabulous! They are brilliant at maths! They obviously work very hard at school- just like us! 

They normally sit in their classrooms but we went into the playground and did it there instead. Much more fun. 

Before I knew it it was time to leave! They were very kind and gave me a lovely pen, a rose and a lovely picture drawn by an ex student. I was sad to say good bye to the children but I will be seeing the teachers again tomorrow at the teacher training. 

I have loved my time in school but it is very hard and exhausting trying to communicate with people who cannot or have little English. Their English is a lot better than my Bengali! 

Shopping!

Tonight I went to a supermarket. It is a supermarket just like ours at home, selling food just like ours at home! Although I have been telling you about all the children in my school that are very poor not all people in India are poor. Many are very rich or have some money, like you or I. They can buy food for their families and treats too! The people in this supermarket can afford to buy food but the children in my school do not get food from supermarkets. They get one meal a day which the school provides-often consisting of rice and Dahl. It is very unfair! 

Special place

I

On Sunday we went on a special boat trip down the Hooghly River. We stopped half way and made our way to a temple. But this was no ordinary temple! It is an extrodanery temple because it is made up of 3 sections:  a church, a Hindu temple and a mosque. That means that people from three different religions can worship together. In many places religions can cause people to segregate but one thing that make Kolkata so special is that all faiths are valued. Most of the people in Kolkata are Hindu but they live in peace with Muslims and Christians as well as many other faiths. 

Teacher training day!

Today we had a teacher training day. I got to meet all the teachers at the schools we are all working with and I can honestly say I have never met a group of people so humble, eager to learn and happy! I showed them how to teach a phonics lesson-with the help of Mr Parrot! I am going to be going into school tomorrow and teaching the teachers how to teach phonics. Phonics is how we read and I hope that it helps the children in my school to read. Can you imagine not having the opportunity to learn to read or write! Well hopefully with our help these wonderful children’s can learn too, just like you! 

Day 5!

The children loved Mr Parrot!

Today was a wonderful day at school. I feel I have got used to the children and they have got used to me. We played some fun phonics games and the children were amazing. They are so clever and picked it up really fast! I read them the Julia Donaldson book ‘Monkey Puzzle’ (one of my favourites!) and the children joined in acting out the different animals. I showed the teachers how to make games using ‘Minkey Puzzle’ to help the children learn English and practise their phonics. We then learnt parts of the body by playing games and singing ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’. We played hop scotch but the highlight of the day was Mr Parrot making an appearance. He had such a great time he has decided to stay in Kolkata with the children! A wonderful day and the children used the chalk you donated in every activity! Thank you everyone! 

B D Colony

A lady washing her pots in the street outside the school.

B D Colony is the slum area my school is in. This area is very poor. The boys and girls that come to school not only have lessons here but also get there one meal a day. The school provides them with a handful of rice mixed with Dahl and some vegetables. They also had 3 biscuits today. The children always come to school as if they don’t they may not have any food that day. Here are some photos of outside the school. 

What an amazing day!

Today was my first day at school! But it was in fact a holiday for Hindus as they were celebrating a festival which worships Saraswati, the goddess of education. The children and relatives came to school and we took part in a Hindu celebration (see pics below). 

There was a shrine to Saraswati in the school and the celebration started with the burning of coconut ‘fur’ (the brown outer layer). The children played gongs and the teachers sang and blew into large conch shells. We then held flowers and said prayers of thanks to Saraswati. Offerings of food were left for her. 

The children were all very friendly and curious and were keen to practice saying “hello!”. They came to school in their finest clothing for the festival and all looked amazing! Many of of them were keen to show me their dances and to teach me some moves!

Can you spot two cows?!?

A long journey!

After a very long journey I have arrived safe and sound in Kolkata! The sights, smells (all pleasant enough so far!) and sounds are an overload to the senses! The streets and roads are bustling with activity and poverty sits side by side with wealth. Vehicles honk their horns constantly, people sit chatting, selling goods, playing cards, hanging out washing, sleeping, cooking or having a shower in the street! Their lives laid bare for everyone to see! It seems people live their lives on the streets of Kolkata. 

 

Houses that once would’ve been grand now stand dilapidated but still lived in. Hotels are next to wooden shed homes, or houses made from a single sheet. Men women and children of all ages live side by side. 

 

But despite all that it is beautiful (in a strange way!). 

 

Today we visited a temple and walked through the streets. Tomorrow is a jam packed day and at the time of writing this I haven’t slept for 33 hours! So, I’m off to sleep! 

I am looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Change over in Dubai.

Dubai

Ready to board our flight!

Can you spot the other plane?

I’m off!

I'm off! The day has finally arrived for me to go on my adventure. I am very excited and also nervous! A little friend snuck in my bag! He will be coming with me on my travels. He needs a name though! Any suggestions? 

 

My my flight is 12.5 hours with a brief stop off in Dubai. I will arrive in Kolkata, India at around 2am! Which will be 7.30am India time. 

 

Best go and board my flight! 

1 day to go!

1 day to go until I set off on my adventure! I am very excited but also nervous. I am looking forward to experiencing and seeing all of the different things in India but will miss everyone from home, especially the little Foxes and my family. I know that they are all in good hands and that you will all look after the Foxes and Finley and Lacie whilst I am away. 

I have finished packing and my bags are bulging with all of the resources, especially chalk that you have all kindly donated! Thank you very much for all of your generous donations. They will be much appreciated.

 

Water

Whilst I am in India I will be drinking from sealed, bottles water only. This is because the water in India will make me ill! It is full of bacteria that our tummies are not ready for. I will also have to be careful what I eat as a lot of the food can contain harmful bacteria too. People in India do not eat a lot of meat so very often it goes off, which can also make you ill. I will be a vegetarian whilst I am away!

 In the Indian slums-where I am going to work, there is no running water. People don't have taps in their homes so they have to collect water instead. Either from water pumps, rivers and streams or even puddles.

 The rivers aren’t as clean as ours. In England we have strict laws about what can and cannot enter our river systems. In India there are no rules! People often drink water from the same place that they bathe, wash pots and even empty sewage into! Litter and rubbish can also be found floating in their drinking water! 

 

 

 

Transport

A Tu-Tuk and camels in India.

 

The main methods of travel in India are similar to those in other countries - cars, buses, planes, trains and bicycles. But there are so many people in India that they are all very crowded. The roads and trains get very busy! It is not uncommon for vehicles to share the roads with cattle and pedestrians either! 

 

It’s common to travel in a ‘tuk-tuk’. They have a small cabin for the driver and seat for the passengers. When the traffic gets busy, this is a quick way to nip around. I hope I will get to ride in one of these!

 

 

 

1 week to go!

There is one week till I leave for India! I am so very excited but still have a lot of work to do! I have to make sure that Fox class is ready for their week without me, make sure I am ready to teach the teachers in India and make sure I have all the resources to take over ready to use with the children! I havn't even thought about packing yet!

Tonight I met with all the other English teachers that are going out their to help. We exchanged resources and I now have a massive bag of things to take- including all the chalk you have kindly donated! I am not sure how I will fit everything in!

Packing all of our resources for our Indian schools!

Indian Animals

Bengal Tiger                                                       http://www.tigers-world.com/bengal-tiger/

India has nearly 90,000 types of animals including over 350 mammals, 1,200 bird species and 50,000 plant species.

 

Many of these are only found on the subcontinent. These include the Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, Indian rhinoceros and several types of monkey. There are also Yaks! I wonder if this is where Meg and Mog went to meet their Yak?

There are also Kong Cobras in India (though hopefully not where I am going!)

One of India's most well known and endangered animals is the Bengal Tiger, which is only found in Bengal, the region i will be visiting. In 2008, there were only 1,411 Bengal tigers left in the wild. This is mainly because of the destruction of their natural habitat and an exploding human population.  Project Tiger is trying to conserve India’s national animal, which is the fastest mammal on earth.

 

There are also antelope, hyenas and jackals, and Indian wolves.

Do all the children in India go to school?

A child washes on a traintrack next to slum houses in Kolkata.

 

Unlike in England, in India only 50% of children can go to school. This is because the children have to go to work instead (often cleaning, working in factories or even sifting through rubbish!) or there is no school for them to go to. Some children in India are from very poor families and live in very dangerous and basic houses (with no water, electricity or even toilets!).

 

 But, there are an increasing amount of slum schools opening up in India so that these children have the opportunity to go to school.

 

That is where I am going. I am going to work in a slum school in Kolkata and help the teachers who work there. Most of the teachers have no training and no resources to teach with. Can you imagine being at school with no paper or pencils?!?

 

 A child that attends a school has a much better chance of getting a job and moving out of the slums!

 

Donations

If anyone would like to donate any money to help me buy chalk and other resources for the children in Kolkata please do so through my Just Giving page.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/alexia-wyer-india 

 

Thank you very much for your generosity.

Where is Kolkata?

Kolkata is in West Bengal, India. Kolkata is a long way away from Loscoe (4, 971miles to be exact!).  India is 5.5 hours ahead of us in England. This means that when you get to school at 9am it will already be 2.30pm in Kolkata, thats almost home time!

 

The maps below show you where I will be visiting.

 

Can anyone tell me what continent India is in?

What countries are next to India?

Can you find England on the maps?

23 days to go and I need your help!

http://www.tts-group.co.uk/coated-chalks-100pk/1000142.html

As some of you know, I am off on January 19th on an Indian Adventure! Like Mrs Spendlove did last year I am travelling to India to continue what she started - improving education for boys and girls at a school in Kolkata, India. 

 

I will be updating my blog as much as possible when I am out there so stay tuned and feel free to ask me any questions or leave comments.

 

Today I am busy applying for my eVISA (a document that lets me go and work in India).

 

I also still have to get chalk to supply 15 Indian schools... which is where you can help! I need to buy as much chalk as possible. Just like the chalk we have in school. Chalk is important as the schools in India cannot afford to buy paper or pencils for their pupils. If you would like to buy some chalk for me to take to India for the children then you can either: buy some chalk and bring it into me (before January 11th) or alternatively, donate some pennies to the school (via parent pay) so that I can order the chalk. Any help in this would be much appreciated.

 

Thank you in advance!

 

 

2 weeks to go!

Eeeek! 2 weeks to go! Read above for more information as to why I am going to India.