New Opportunities for Children in Madurdaha

32388126965_dc3f75e6fe_oMadurdaha is a small village on the outskirts of Kolkata, India with about 320 families. Most of the adults are employed as drivers, maids and day laborers. The village faces serious issues such as alcoholism, domestic abuse, poor sanitation and polluted ponds. Four hundred children from the community study in the Dakshini Prayash School and about 35 mothers participate in self-reliance workshops with the school. There are regular health camps for everyone in the community.

While the school makes a special effort to help raise children in a holistic way, they are rarely able to reach the parents. SoCCs was promoted by four young members of Dakshini Prayash School’s Junior Board to connect better with the students and to reach the families. We started with a long list of SoCCs items for students in grades three through eight, but decided to first focus on students in grades five to eight, and involve teachers to help manage SoCCs. This proved to be too demanding of teachers who had to supervise many things in addition to their regular routine.

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The SoCCs Earning and Redeeming list was then whittled down to focus on issues considered more important.  These included discouraging abusive language, cleanliness, and regular class attendance. The young volunteer team was able to reduce the burden on the teachers by putting up classroom charts that could simply be signed at the end of the day. These efforts were successful, and the students responded well. The teachers found things easier to manage and student behavior improved. After emphasizing these changes for over four months, the volunteer team is currently focusing on more community-based items, since SoCCs is devoted to building social capital and community development. SoCCS has so far encouraged students to clean community spaces once a week, and to serve lunch every day to fellow classmates. The team is also considering farming and campus beautification ideas for community members.

We want our students to appreciate the efforts of SoCCs, so they will be encouraged to discuss important issues with their parents. We are pleased to say that thus far SoCCs has accomplished many improvements for the students of Dakshini Prayash School and the people of Madurdaha.

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