Myles Harrington

Archive for May 27th, 2010|Daily archive page

Scaring The Kids of Nandakumarpur

In India on May 27, 2010 at 7:23 am

No blog post for over ten days. Very poor form. But I have an excuse! I have been in the Sunderbans for most of the last two weeks working with Sabuj Sangha, a locally based NGO that specialises in health, education, water and sanitation, woman’s rights and micro-finance projects for the people in the Sunderbans area of West Bengal.

My first week with the organisation was spent at their Nandakumarpur HQ. It takes about three hours to get there from Kolkata. Firstly, by a packed commuter train for an hour and a half and then by auto rickshaw from the nearest train station for the rest of the journey.

At their HQ there is an excellent hospital with all mod-cons and a great primary school with just over 100 students. My primary objective at the school was to help out with the English lessons and to generally have fun with the kids. I was staying on the school grounds in their very cosy accommodation, which was complete luxury compared to some of the dives i’ve stayed in. They even provided me with soap and mineral water on demand. The chai was also one of the best i’ve had and the food was delicious for the whole of my time there, all thanks to the attentive canteen manager and his two wonderful cooks.

When the kids finally came to me

I managed to sneak into the compound on my first day without the pupils spotting me. When they eventually did at home time they were so scared! I couldn’t get within 50 metres of them for the first twenty minutes. No matter how much I chased or put out my hand, smiled or waved.  Eventually they all got the courage to come to me so I showed them my Blackberry and all of the photos of people back home and played them a selection of songs from my ipod. Bill Withers, The Corrs and Bob Marley featured on the playlist. I thought Digitalism would have blown them away so steered clear of anything too abstract for their innocent ears. Then I bought them sweets and took a few photos to their amazement.

Initially it all seemed easy enough until on my first day of proper teaching I was put in front of a class and told to teach. Having never taught anything in my life before I was a little uneasy and managed to blag my way through teaching them basic questions and answers such as “how are you?”, “What food do you like?” and “What is your favourite colour?” etc.

I scored five! If only I was that good against people my own size

For the rest of my time there after my dodgy first lessons I just asked to help the other teachers and we seemed to work well as a double act. I would write on the board and pronounce the words while the teachers would translate for the children what I wanted them to do.  I also taught them rhymes before lunch time such as Baa Baa Black Sheep and Humpty Dumpty which the children loved.

The P.E teacher sings his heart out for the students. My rhymes weren't quite that impressive