Student Volunteers stage Street Play

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A screen shot of the Street Play in satellite channel DY365

Sonapur (ADBU): A team of 30 student volunteers from Assam Don Bosco University (ADBU) and University College Dublin Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) staged a street play in Sonapur market here today 17th June 2017 on themes of education, alcoholism, education, land issues and sale of property leading to impoverishment. The play was watched by a huge gathering of market goers – men, women, children and youth. ‘The students did a wonderful play which portrayed a reality in our villages’ according to Ms. Rongpipi of Sonapur.

The play got a huge media coverage and was also telecast in News Live, Dy365, Protidin, and Prag News between 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm news hours. The team are having an intercultural exchange programme between the two institutions. It is a month long programme. It began on 9th June and will conclude on 8th July.

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ADBU-UCDVO begin Volunteering Programme 2017

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Children of Goriyaguli village dancing during inauguration

ADBU (Soapur): ADBU and UCDVO have commenced the international student volunteering exchange programme 2017 here today 11th June 2017 with colourful opening ceremonies in the villages of Hatimurah, Patarkuchi, Goriyaguli and Upper Tapesia. The opening ceremonies were participated in large numbers by villagers, well wishers and ADBU staff members.

The Exchange Programme 2017 is the fourth year of collaboration between ADBU and UCDVO. It began in 2014 with a team of 23 members and today the team comprise of 33 members.

The Exchange Programme aims –

  1. To channel the skills, energy and enthusiasm of university students into projects
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    Children of Patarkuchi village dancing Assamese and Karbi mixed dance

    which enhance the development of marginalised and underprivileged communities.

  2. To create space and opportunity for university students from ADBU, India and University College Dublin (UCD) Ireland to share learning and experience in the areas of participatory community development and social outreach.
  3. To enhance intercultural awareness between students and communities for the purpose of increasing global solidarity and interconnectedness.
  4. To promote attitude of appreciation for other cultures, practices, and traditions.

ADBU launches Centre for Developmental Studies and Initiatives

Sonapur: The University, in its effort to carry forward its vision of being a catalytic agent to bring about progress and development to its neighbouring villages, launched its ‘Centre for Developmental Studies and Initiatives’ at an interactive meeting held with the leaders of local communities on 23 February, 2017 at Crystal Hall, Tapesia Campus.

Addressing the gathering of 78 people, including Panchayat Presidents, Village Headmen, School Teachers, Anganwadi Workers, Self Help Group members, students and staff volunteers, the Vice Chancellor Fr. (Dr) Stephen Mavely explained why the University takes such a step, “Opening this Centre is to formalize what we have been doing in bits and pieces during the last five years or so. This is a seminal gathering to bring about a participatory approach in our interactions and interventions with our neighbours. The university alone cannot work for the development of the communities but we would like to work together with you to see developments in the community in education, health and standard of living. The ‘Centre for Developmental Studies and Initiatives’ will become a hub for study, research and developmental activities as a regular feature of our university. My hope is that every graduate in our university will spend some quality time in volunteering for developmental work in the villages of North-East India as a compulsory part of their studies with us. This Centre will start organizing that as we go along.”

Mr. Surjya Das, President, Digaru Goan Panchayat expressed his gratitude for the existence of the university and said that he is looking forward to working together with the University’s various developmental initiatives.

Discussions were held on issues and challenges being faced by these communities in water supply, electricity, road, alcohol abuse, lack of infrastructure for social institutions, and disintegration of Government Assamese Medium Schools.

Earlier in 2015 and 2016, the Department of Social Work, ADBU in collaboration with University College Dublin Volunteers Overseas, Ireland had organized a one month Community Development Programme in partnership with local communities in these communities. Some of the project activities included repair of a well, capacity building workshops for livelihood development, English classes, and refurbishment of Anganwadis.

UCDVO and ADBU refurbish and hand over four Anganwadis

An Anganwadi in Hatkhwapara before Refurbishment

An Anganwadi in Hatkhwapara before Refurbishment

Azara: The tiny tots of Hatkhwapara, Hirapara and Keotpara need not spend their play and education time anymore surrounded by dull stained walls and broken floors as the members of International Student Volunteer Exchange Programme have refurbished and colourfully painted the Anganwadi centers of the villages and handed them over, 11 July 2014.

‘The objective of the undertaking was to make the learning experience of the children who come to the centers enriching and perhaps in one word what one could call beautiful and effective process’ says Mr. Alex Kelly, a team member from UCDVO and placed in Keotpara.

Expressing her feeling about the transformation of her center Anganwadi Worker Ms. Moni Das of Keotpara said that ‘never in her life had she dreamed that her center would be so beautiful and learning experience of children so colourful.’ ‘I am grateful to the students of Don Bosco and UCDVO for transforming my center into a center of learning’ she added.

The Anganwadi in Hatkhwapara after Refurbishment

An Anganwadi in Hatkhwapara after Refurbishment

Ms. Jyothsna Bagum the Aanganwadi Worker from Hatkhwapara expressing her experience after the refurbishment of her Anganwadi Center said that ‘till last week the community people would not visit the center but now not just community people and forget about the parents of the children who come here; even public passersby are stopping and visiting to see the kind of changes the Anganwadi centre has gone through.’  ‘I am proud of my center’ she adds with a smile.

A break during refurbishment of the Anganwadi at Hirapara

A break during refurbishment of the Anganwadi at Hirapara

Speaking to the members of the team from Don Bosco and UCDVO after the inauguration ceremony Mr. Dipak Kumar Das, Headmaster of Hatkhwapara Lower Primary School expressed his opinion that ‘the Anganwadi Centers which are important in the process of the development of a Child in India could be as colourful, beautiful and child friendly as the newly refurbished Anganwadi of Hatkhwapara.’ ‘It gives immense happiness and sense of satisfaction to know that there are people out there who care and dare to share dreams of making the lives of the children better’ he added.

Anganwadi literally means a ‘Courtyard House’ in Hindi. It is a Government center where children between the age group of 0 to 6 years and expecting mothers are given holistic developmental care by a Government appointed Anganwadi Worker.

Enjoying the comfort of the refurbished Anganwadi Centre

Enjoying the comfort of the refurbished Anganwadi Centre

Four Anganwadi Centres (two in Hatkhwapara, and one each in Hirapara and Keotpara) have been refurbished, inaugurated and handed over to the three communities by the team of volunteers from UCD Volunteers Overseas, Ireland and Don Bosco University. The refurbishing process included scrubbing the walls and floors, repairing the broken walls and floors, white washing, painting and finally fitting linoleum on the floors.

Speaking on the experience of the process of the Anganwadi refurbishing work Ms. Dupphidalin says that ‘she has learnt how to mix cement and sand and may perhaps be able to fix her own house’, while Ms. Namita says that she ‘could perhaps paint her own house as she has discovered the painter-self in her.’

For Ms. Victoire and Mr. John while ‘the cleaning and whitewashing of the centers were the most frustrating, the emerging of trees, animals and rainbows from the once dull walls and beautiful laying of linoleum on the once broken floors were the most satisfying and joyous experience.’

According to Peter ‘the transformation of Hirapara Anganwadi Centre gives happiness with a hope that children who come there can now have more pleasant time.’

Azara Open Exhibition was not a Success but a……

The United Girls Club with  art and craft products

The United Girls Club with art and craft products

Azara (Emma McLoughlin): An open exhibition between all three communities – Keotpara, Hatkhwapara and Hirapara was organised in Azara Public Hall on Wednesday (July 9), and to say it was a success would be an understatement! On the way to the hall early Wednesday morning, I felt a bit daunted by the day that lay ahead. Our experience of Indian punctuality has been stressful at times! Also, the event was scheduled between 10.00 am and 6.00 pm so I was worried that it would be a thin crowd coming and going due to it being such a drawn out period of time. My fears quickly dissipated as some of our community members were there to help us set up at 8.30am! A feeling of great hope built up as we rushed around frantically searching for scissors and sellotape to set up the stalls for each of our village. The whole thing took shape fantastically and the team worked together seamlessly.

The Exhibition Stall from Hirapara

The Exhibition Stall from Hirapara

The crowds and communities started arriving in force. The stands were full of artwork made by children and adults alike. There were handmade crafts ranging from vases to handbags. The people bustled around enthusiastically and there was a great buzz in the air!

The performances started and it was just brilliant to see such a huge celebration of culture. Indian and Irish volunteers performed as well as children, adolescents and women from the villages. We had songs as Gaeilge, in Assamese, a magic show, traditional dance, contemporary dance and even a makeshift river dance with our friends from Global Schoolroom. The crowd loved it and we had a ball doing as well.

Musical Chair game in progress

Musical Chair game in progress

There was a huge number of people in attendance throughout the day and instead of fizzling out towards the evening, more people actually arrived. Approximately 500 people joined the event, people of all ages, enjoying the day and seeing the hard work put in by the members of the community. We had lovely refreshments, we played football and musical chairs, we got to know more people and just generally had an amazing time. At certain points, when the speakers were turned up, it was more like a massive community dance party than an exhibition! But such was the spirit of the day.

Common Dance on a Common Dance Floor

Common Dance on a Common Dance Floor

It was definitely the perfect way to showcase the hard work put in by UCDVO and ADBU over the last month. More importantly, it was a great way for the women and girls of the communities to showcase and be proud of their amazing talents. They had the opportunity to sell their crafts and some of them even had orders placed for more! It was a great chance for us all to celebrate the close relationship we have built over the last month and to celebrate different people, talents and cultures coming together to have fun.

It was not just a success but a ‘grand success’, and a great story to tell in life.