23.03.13 | parents’ workshop
Today we held the first workshop with the parents of Chacha Nehru Nursery. All parents were informed about the event through a hand written notice that the teachers gave out to each student. At 10:30am, we became anxious as only one parent and her child appeared for the workshop on time. However, people started to arrive one by one and eventually the whole seating was packed. Many students came along with their parents or grandparents too. There were more mothers than fathers and they seated placed themselves in separate groups separately on the jute mat. The workshop began with the head teacher Bina’s opening remarks and a welcoming song by all six teachers. The purpose of the workshop was firstly to introduce ourselves and the project to the parents, but more importantly, to have a moment with the parents to think about their children’s future and how the new school can accommodate the best possible study environment. Having prepared for one week together with Leika, the teachers led the entire workshop and guided the parents to draw plans for the new school building. Some groups were very specific about the classroom size and other groups drew up a whole master plan, including many classrooms, assembly hall, office, stage, toilets, kitchen, kitchen garden, flower garden, park and so on. Trees and green areas were also included in the plan, recalling the rich and beautiful nature of Hariharpur. Each group proudly presented their plan in front of everyone and the audience gave huge applauds. Gauri, one of the teachers, was a key person to the workshop as she was very good at keeping the parents focused and making them proud of their drawings. We will keep encouraging the teachers to hold regular workshops with the community on Saturdays and to foster ownership of the new school building within the community.
Half way through the workshop, Clem, Kritika and Vishank arrived from Delhi. Kritika and Vishank, both architects, are participants of the previous Visiting School where we installed a mock-up classroom in the gallery of British Council. They both got attached to this project and now are crucial members of Project Hariharpur. In this regard, Divya, Jaykishan and Nirali (also participants of the previous workshop) have also been contributing from afar with research into materials, structure and design parameters for a composite climate such as in Uttar Pradesh. Kritika will remain with us here in Hariharpur untill the end of the project as a project co-coordinator, and Vishank, who is an expert on sourcing materials, will stay with us during the visiting school which starts on Sunday. Now the full WORKSHOP team has arrived on site and are very happy to be able to work with the wonderful community of Hariharpur.
In the afternoon, Alex, Vishank, Arvind and Kamlesh went out on a field trip to do further research about the locally available materials such as different types of steel, burned bricks and mud bricks. Arvind is working for our partner organisation ITRHD to make sure the smooth establishment of the Chacha Nehru Primary School. Kamlesh is Bina’s husband and used to be the village chief in Hariharpur. Even nowadays he is receiving respect from the community for his generosity and compassion. The trip turned out to be a great opportunity to engage the wider community into the project as Kamlesh introduced us to steal suppliers, cement/garble/sand suppliers and mud brick suppliers. In addition to our trip, some of the fathers that we met during the workshop also started to look into bricks and bamboos which could be used for the new school. Also, one of the nearby brick factories is keen on helping us out and will start to produce mud brick samples in different proportions and size upon our request so that we can test the strength in Varanasi. Today has been a really productive day and we are excited to keep working with the community.