Our Door Step School in Goa…

Posted by Helen 
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In Goa you are just never sure what each day will bring when you spend a lot of time here. And considering how large India is, just what a small world we inhabit.

The other evening I spent a wonderful couple of hours deep within a tiny enclave situated in one of the poorer districts of Goa’s capital, Panjim. The area of St Inez is also very close to where Bookworm first began its existence.

I was invited to spend an evening there by Sujata and Niju to take part in another of their Outreach sessions. But, this night, I was also to meet another special person – Amavaz Kharas who runs a Door Step School in Mumbai, who wanted to join Sujata to compare notes and see how Bookworm does things. That name rang a bell…

The learning space was created on three mats spread on the path outside a little temple. Add a box of books and an imaginary and imaginative school world can be created out of nothing.

Goa's Doorstep School

As the session got underway, we caught sight of two small girls who obviously desperately wanted to join in but who couldn’t quite summon up the courage to come forward. Sujata started reading and finally they quietly joined the edge of the group. Later, Amavaz sat with one of the girls in a personalised reading session – it created one of those instantaneous bonds that never wanted to break!

Amavaz and her willing pupil

That group of around 20 kids had three local languages plus English to deal with. It gives an idea of the challenges. But the rewards include seeing the pride with which they carry their Bookworm bags and wear their personalised name tags as a badge of honour. To the kids, this is a serious business!

A serious business

It showed me that ‘facilities’ are not the be-all-and-end-all. But it does take the commitment of some amazing teachers and volunteers. The sad fact, though, is these schemes do need funding – Sujata’s projects currently come in at around 7000 UKP a year – and it merely takes one evening with her to remind me why Helping Elsewhere supports Bookworm to the extent we do.

And, finally, the reason why Amavaz and the Door Step Schools rang such bells in my brain? Well, I first came across her many years back when a Secret Millionaire – Seema Sharma – highlit them in that television program. That screening brought Seema and I together right at the beginning of Helping Elsewhere’s journey. So St Inez was another circle closed!


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