Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An adventure

Last week, three of our Education Outreach Program girls - Anu, Pooja, and Rajni - took their first trip to the mall! Now, you might ask - why the mall? It seems like an odd place for an outing, but malls and shopping complexes are coming up all over Pune, including FOUR expansive, modern malls within walking distance from the Waghri/Sikligar slums that have opened within the last year alone. Many of our Education Outreach children (like Anu, Pooja and Rajni) or their family members can be found begging outside of these sorts of shopping establishments when they are not in school, but due to heavy mall security, are never permitted inside to see for themselves what all the fuss is about.

So when the girls' school teacher heard about a company-sponsored drawing competition taking place in the nearby Phoenix mall one afternoon, she jumped at the chance to take them on an adventure for the afternoon. With a little help from Claudia didi, the girls were thrilled to meet their teacher for a day of drawing, exploring, and even a bite to eat.

Claudia didi accompanied Anu, Pooja, and Rajni into the mall, and the girls were absolutely in awe of their surroundings; they kept looking up at the lofty ceilings and shiny, bright lights and almost falling over backwards. Once they met up with their teacher, the girls rode an escalator for the first time, which you can imagine was quite a thrilling experience for all three!

Left to right: Poonam (Res Program), Anu, Rajni and Pooja

The girls were registered for the competition and received their drawing kits. They were so excited to have their own sets of crayons and pencils that they almost forgot to start drawing when the contest started! Competing children were given two hours to draw, and our girls drew their school and the Indian flag.

The girls received certificates for their participation in the drawing competition and then headed to the bathroom, where they had a blast using automatic sinks and paper towel dispensers and the bathroom attendant got a kick out of showing them how to use everything. Finally, they were treated to a veggie burger and soda at McDonalds! While they were eating with their teacher, their other teacher showed up and joined them. The girls were so excited to have all three of their didis (two teachers and outreach director) sharing lunch with them that they were almost too distracted to eat. After lunch, all three girls - balloons and goodie bags in hand - piled into a rickshaw and headed back to the slum, where they showed their new toys to their friends.

All in all, it was a successful, eye-opening adventure for the girls, and a fun afternoon for the adults who got to share in their wonder and excitement.

1 comment:

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