Shaping their lives for a better tomorrow ♥
By now a lot of you must be familiar with the project Light up their world 2.0. But for those of you who don’t know, this is a signature community service initiative by the Rotaract Club of SLIIT, where volunteers teach English and Mathematics to 27 girls at Morawinna Balika Child Development & Probation Center, Panadura. This year, the project commenced on the 21st of September 2019 and continued for more than 6 months. A group of 10 to 15 volunteers visit this probation center to share their knowledge with the kids there, once a week either on Saturday or Sunday. We usually spend about four to five hours with the girls each week.
There are kids from different classes, from as small as grade 1 to kids who are doing their O/Level examinations, and we try our level best to give every one of them individual attention. Every teaching session is pre-planned, and the volunteers are informed ahead on which subject is taught in the week, either Mathematics or English alone with the activities relevant for the day.
Soon as we enter, the kids flock around, curious on what is going to be taught. As there are kids from different grades, they are separated, with the little ones in one section and the bigger ones in another. According to their grades, the kids get different activities for the day. If the session is allocated to teach Mathematics, the small kids get printed exercises to complete. We always see a small competition here, where everyone tries to be the first to finish all their sums correctly and receive praise from us 🙂 Since these beautiful flower buds lack the caring and praise of a mother, so they expect it from us who have become their new family. The volunteers sit around the table, guiding the little kids step by step, when necessary. The girls from grade 5 and above are also being guided similarly. They are being taught the lessons in the government issued textbooks, in an interesting way and the girls clear their doubts they had through the week. We try to clear out all their problems and also teach them easier ways and short cuts to solve Mathematics sums.
We see that more than Mathematics, the kids prefer it when we teach them English. They are very enthusiastic to learn new words and we help them to listen, read, write and to pronounce every new word that is taught, and we make sure they know what it means. The days English is taught are very active and loud, as we hear kids trying to pronounce the new words they learned. The kids get activities and exercises to complete for English too. Once they complete all the activities they are rewarded with a picture to colour. It is not just any picture, but is also something relevant to the day’s activity. The girls love it when we give them stars and smiley faces when we mark their books. They carry their books around, showing off their stars to the other volunteers and their peers and it really is very adorable to look at! Because at the end of the day seeing a smile on their beautiful faces is all what we want.
The girls are taught Spoken English as well and the volunteers encourage the girls to talk with them in English so that they can improve. We hear the kids laugh when they make a mistake in pronunciation, but they never give up! We see them helping each other and we make sure to appreciate every small effort they make in learning a new word.
We saw how much the girls’ Spoken English skills had improved when they had a Christmas Celebrations back in December 2019. Some of the girls gave speeches in English and it was definitely a proud moment for the volunteers as well, to see how well and fluently they spoke on stage without any fear. The girls were also taught many English songs, carols and poems as well. Some of these carols were sung by all of the girls at the Christmas Celebrations. They are also encouraged to read English books, and on some weeks the kids get reading activities as well. They come around with their books, asking the volunteers to help them in the parts where they get stuck and we are more than happy to help.
Monthly tests were also held to evaluate how much the girls have learned. Volunteers focused on preparing them for their 3rd term test in 2019 and 1st term tests in 2020. Therefore, they were each given a zonal past paper and their knowledge was tested on what the girls had learned so far. They were also given quizzes weekly as well, to check their improvement. We are proud to say that all of them did pretty well!
The volunteers did not stop at teaching them educational content, but we also shared our experiences with them. We taught them about the outside world and how we can overcome various problems that may come in our lives. We told them stories about university life and encouraged them to work hard so that they can be successful young girls one day. They also had programs that help them explore new cultures as well, such as the Thai Pongal celebration and the Christmas Celebration. They also learned about Sri Lankan history and living in peace in a multi-cultural environment, when the club organized an Independence Day celebration. The girls were given advice by a professional counselor on future goals and dreams, controlling anger and emotions, personal hygiene and many more things that could shape up their lives.
The kids learned English, Mathematics and so much more from the volunteers, and in return the volunteers learned so much from the kids as well. Each of us became better teachers and learned to deal with children of different ages and backgrounds. Every session was exciting and all of us learned something new. I’m sure every one of us who volunteered is proud to have at least a minor part in shaping these beautiful souls into smarter, talented and confident young ladies. I really do hope that there will be another phase of Light Up their World, so that we can continue on this amazing project of shaping lives!
Rtr. Azfa Azhar