Newsletter — Feb 09 to June 09

Elephant

Blessed by a few welcome showers of rain in the first week of june, the entire Sittilingi valley heaved a sigh of relief.Temperatures that were soaring at 40-41 degrees Celsius, came down to 34-36 degrees C.The grass, plants and trees responded in a flash to the rains by sprouting fresh, green leaves.The scorched, dry dusty brown summer cloak is gone and the Valley is green and beautiful again.

At Thulir our group of senior students Perumal, Senthil,Vinu, Devagi and Rajammal have grown and bloomed into a very responsible, confident, enthusiastic, sincere group and are now guiding and teaching the younger children.They also take more responsibility in the administration and management of Thulir. For instance, they all worked very hard in May in-spite of the blistering heat. May was supposedly holiday time in Thulir, i.e. we had no classes. But we had more physical work this month than most other times. We had to deepen our well, repair the mud floors and walls of the classrooms,take stock of the books and learning materials. etc… The seniors took charge of most of this work and with very little guidance, completed the work well.

deepening of well

Deepening work in our open well

Three boys from Moolasittilingi village who had wanted to join the Basic Technology course begining in June also came every day in May and worked hard with us. We were really amazed to see this.We had not asked them to work, nor were they getting paid. But here were these 3 teenagers – considered failures in school, spending every day of their holiday working intensely. What was motivating them? The freedom? The feeling of being treated as equals? The space? The fact that there was no compulsion? The example of the seniors working seriously? One doesn’t know.

painting wall

Painting walls with home made cement-mud paint

Electrical wiring work

Wiring work in Thulir office building

Electrical wiring work

New Batch joins us for Basic Technology Course

As we write this, new teenagers keep coming in to join Thulir for the Basic Technology Course this year.We had decided that we will start the course from June 15th. Instead of a formal interview or test to select students where some would have to be rejected, we have asked the interested students to come in for a trial period and participate in all the daily activities. At the end of it, both sides could decide whether they should join the course or not. Three adivasi students from a village near Gudalur in the Nilgiris have come to join the course today [24th June].They have been selected to undergo this course by the Vidyodaya Education Team, who are interested in the concept of this course. We hope they would adjust to this vastly different environment and would complete the course. Activities have started with the group in the meantime.

One of our dreams this year is to document the classes/ work done in the Basic Technology course and share it through this Blog. So watch out for more posts in this space!

Summer workshop for the seniors

From May 25th to 31st we had a workshop on “Learning and facilitating Learning”. This was primarily a preparatory session for Perumal, Vinu, Rajammal, Devagi and Ezhumalai; to help them teach the younger students this year.The sessions were a mix of discussions, readings [John Holt, Totto Chan, Sylvia Ashton-Warner etc.], activities,use of teaching aids, trying out creative ways of language and math teaching and practical discussions on problems they encountered last year while teaching the younger children.

Running:

Santhosh Padmanabhan continues to inspire and guide the students. With his help and guidance Senthil has taken charge of the running training for the younger kids. A group of 6-8 children practised running every morning at 5. am throughout the summer. Santhosh visited Thulir in May along with Manjula Sridhar of Asha to interact with this group. He took Senthil, Perumal and Ezhumalai to Bangalore to participate in the Sunfeast 10 Km run on 31st May. After the run he arranged for them to visit Ananya School in Bangalore and interact with the students there. More details in the Team Asha Blog

On 20th June Perumal Ezhumalai and Vinu participated in the Valley School run.After the run they were able to go with Sudhakar of Mrinmayee to purchase materials required for Thulir, in the Bangalore Market area. These trips outside Sittilingi are valuable learning experiences , offer exposure and increase confidence among our seniors. Thanks to Team Asha and Mrinmayee for making it possible.

Traning Programme on installation and maintenance of Solar Photovoltaic systems.

With the help of V.Ramasubramanian of VillageRS Thulir conducted this 3 day training programme in April.We have been using Solar PV systems for lighting and computers successfully for the last 5 years in Thulir. We have acquired some knowledge and skills in installing and maintaining these systems.Over the years we kept getting requests from various friends / groups to train some of their personnel. Hence we decided to hold an organised training programme for 3 days in April. Mr. V.Ramasubramaniam, of “VillageRS”, an expert in alternative energy systems and the person who helped us design and install out PV systems , was the Resource person. We had participants from Hunnarshala Bhuj; Mrinmayee, Bangalore; ACCORD Gudalur; Payir, Thenur and Sittilingi. The group was a hetrogenous one with varying academic levels and langauages, and backgrounds. So planning the sessions was challenging. The Sessions were a mix of theory and practicals and we got a positive feed back from most of the participants. For us it was a very good experience. For Senthil and Perumal, who anchored some of the practical sessions, this was a confidence boosting experience.They could see some value in what they had been doing as a matter of routine.

Solar PV training Programme

A session on testing of  Solar PV panels

Solar PV training Programme

Perumal Teaching assembly of white LED bulbs

Organic Vegetable Farming

Interest has been sustained and the plants grew well. So we got some organically grown  vegetables for the Thulir kitchen. but the water crises and the deepening work of the well in May affected our farming, and we haven’t got the expected yield for the kitchen from these plots. With the new batch of students in, enthusiasm has increased and they are working to get one small portion of the land for rice cultivation. This year so far the rains haven’t been good and the well water is still not enough for agriculture, so we are keeping our fingers crossed and waiting for rains.

harvesting onions

Harvesting onions

organic garden - working on

Getting the vegetable patch ready

organic garden - healthy plants

An experimental raised bed for vegetables in Thulir, after seeing in Auroville!

organic garden - corn harvest

Our corn harvest!!

Evening Students Classes

With the begining of the new academic year in June, we had a big spurt in the children coming to Thulir for the evening classes. With a few weeks of settling down and classes/ activities/schedules falling in place, now there is some order and consolidation. As we do usually, we have made groups on the basis of academic levels and age and classes have started in right earnest.

Writing Stories

One of the activities we did end of last academic year was to get the children to write their own stories and produce books and then read it out loud to the rest of the group. It was great fun and the children did the work very seriously. Already there is an increase in confidence levels when it comes to reading and writing among the younger children; this year we hope to work further and go beyond just the basics.

Reading out self written Stories

Reading out self written Stories

Reading out self written Stories

Govindammal

Govindammal, one of our seniors, got married and has moved out of Sittilingi.

We wish her all the best and a happy married life!

white LED bulb

A lamp assembeled in Thulir using white LEDs, waste CD and papermache work

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7 Responses to Newsletter — Feb 09 to June 09

  1. Supriya says:

    Hi Anu and Krishna,
    It’s wonderful to read about Sittilingi-ers becoming regular runners and being exposed to Bangalore through their trips there. Do girls participate in the running too? It looks like it’s important for everyone to inculcate a habit for regular exercise to ward off chronic disease later in life, especially as lifestyles change rapidly. Sittilingi is still idyllic, but urbanization and the industrialized diet are creeping up on us everywhere.

    I’d love to read more about the Basic Technology course. Are you planning to teach architecture/engineering concepts?

    Keep up the great work!
    Supriya.

  2. thulir says:

    Hi Supriya,
    Thanks for the comments… Three of our girls did go to the Auroville marathon and ran a shorter 5 km run, but girls haven’t yet started running regularly in Sittilingi in preparation for events. Our hope is that once parents see the positive side of running regularly and seriously then would be supportive to girls taking to it seriously too.
    Yes we do intend teaching Architectural and Engineering concepts to the Basic Technology students. This week we have started basics of technical drawing.

    anu and krishna

  3. Aravinda says:

    Dear Friends at Thulir, Congratulations on your outstanding work.

    On behalf of Association for India’s Development I would like to request your help with an upcoming project on “Makan” – the theme of our 2010 calendar.
    We would like to show innovative and traditional techniques that are socially significant, and eco-friendly. We also hope to give visibility to aspects of home construction that could actually be more widely used today if more people thought about them. As well as techniques used in traditional societies that may be endangered by modern notions of development. Let me know how I can contact you to discuss this project further.
    Thanks
    Aravinda

  4. josh.p.s says:

    sir,

    i would like to know much more about solar led lamps..
    can you please provide me help how to make led lamps that will work on solar..

    hope that you will help me,,

    please mail me the details to

    mail.moonlite@gmail.com

    • thulir says:

      sorry for the delay.

      The LED lamps we make are designed to run on 12V DC power supply. 3 LED bulbs are connected in series in a constant current circuit that uses 2 transistors and 2 resistors. We use low power white LEDs that are rated at 80 milliwatts.

  5. padma and paul says:

    Hi Anu and Krishna,
    It is truly inspiring to see the work that is slowly building up. While we marvel at the engineering bits, the creativity is also lovely to see.
    Please convey our congrats to all in the team.
    Regards
    padma and paul

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