22.08.12 | arrival in dehradun
We arrived in Dehradun at the end of last week and have been busy settling in to the city, getting to know the people we will be working with, and re-visiting Nanhi Dunya’s schools. We’ve given ourselves until the end of this week to determine the exact nature and scope of the project, so at the moment we’re trying to understand the schools’ strengths and weaknesses, and how our time here can be best used. The existing buildings are very beautiful, but all suffer from serious problems with poor lighting and dampness; it’s still monsoon season here, and obvious that the roofs can’t cope with the very heavy rain loads. The other key issues are inadequate sanitation facilities and general decay; there is very little play equipment, and what there is tends to be broken. On the positive side, the gardens are really lovely and there’s more than enough room to use these exterior spaces for mock-ups or a small freestanding structure. It’s been incredibly inspiring meeting the teachers, particularly the Head of Chandar Nagar, Chitra, who has dedicated her whole life to the school and seems to have boundless energy and enthusiasm for the place. We’re very excited about working with her! And of course, it’s also been great to start to get to know the kids we’re doing this project for. Most of the pupils at Chandar Nagar and Karanpur come from the nearby slum areas, which we will be visiting with Chitra later in the week so that we can meet some of the children’s families. Parents don’t pay fees, but make ‘contributions’ based on their incomes – partly so that they can maintain a sense of dignity and pride. We’d like to find ways of engaging parents in the process of designing and making the project and are looking forward to getting to know them, to find out how they could contribute with skills and knowledge.