Outreach Programme for Std X students

Visit to Anekal: Reaching the Unreached

St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School aims at providing holistic and pragmatic education in the form of experiential learning. With this aim in mind, the school organised an Outreach programme for the students of Class X.

The theme of the programme was: 'Reaching the Unreached'. To set the programme in motion and provide our students with a foretaste of what lay in wait for them, a seminar by Fr Jerald D’Souza was conducted on the 23 November. Critical reflection on the Indian society was the essence of this briefing. Fr Jerald perfectly captured the significant aspects of critical reflection and put across all the facts in an optimistic way. He ended his presentation on a positive note despite discussing bleak topics and harsh realities. The session was illuminating and highlighted all the problems plaguing the Indian society namely: the divide between the rich and the poor, illiteracy and several similar challenges.

When posed with the question, “How do you coexist with people of other religions?” Ms Nayana from Gowramma Village, located five minutes off the hustling town of Anekal, had something witty to say, “They are our family, they do their work and we do ours.” The innocence and stoicism reflected in the answer showed the extent of religious unity in the village. Often, we the ‘So-Called Civilized Urban’ have misconstrued notions about rural areas and villagers but the students of St Joseph’s Boys’ High School were pleasantly surprised after interacting with the people of Gowramma Village during the Outreach Programme. With only two schools operating in the village and virtually no hospitals, Gowramma Village paints a bleak picture at first glance. However, the more we delve into the lives of these humble villagers, more complexity and beauty are unravelled!

Ms Nayana answered all the questions posed by the students with quick wit and dexterity, completely unfazed by the most awkward and personal questions. This reflects the determination and sheer grit the villagers have. Nonetheless, they are plagued with certain problems: a median income of ten thousand per household, the small hamlet of Gowramma with just over a population of five thousand residents, has a lot of economic problems, drainage and sanitary issues, lack of healthcare facilities and immediate access to medical aid. But they have handled these challenges to the best of their abilities, as Ms Nayana put it, “Whatever comes our way, it depends on how we look at it. I take nothing seriously!”

Gowramma Village introduced a more important problem to the students: certain social problems that are prevalent. Even though there is no discord between different religions, dowry exists in reality. Women are not allowed to enter cemeteries and superstitious beliefs curtail the development of this village. Despite these traits of gender inequality, the most unique thing was the fact that four women-led organisations dominate the village in terms of bringing in a positive change. They provide skill training to teach women tailoring. The arrange for low-interest loans, provide free education and much more. One key aspect that even the children of this village are taught is the art of saving money, Ms Nayana a resident of Gowramma said, “A penny saved is a penny earned and we groom the children from a young age to learn how to save money.”

To conclude, Gowramma was a melting pot of religions, cultures and practices but one thing commonly seen in all the villagers and something the students imbibed from this learning opportunity was that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and suffering. It was indeed an experience to treasure!

The primary aim of this session was to introduce students to these harsh realities while also offering a conducive environment to brainstorm implementable solutions and methods to help society in an altruistic manner.

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