A Mountain of Tasks

A Haven member sets out to the Community Centre armed and ready with her plan of action to combat all manner of challenges

On her return, Haven member Shumi Ghosh, sent out the following report detailing her time spent at the community centre 2nd - 6th November 2010:

My time at the centre was not only highly productive, but also fully occupied with tasks that would:

a) Allow for more efficient running of the Learning Centre – this involved the organisation and storage of all equipment donated by the Beavers. Consequently, a good deal of “clearing out clutter” took place, not an easy task due to dust, heat and a million vicious flying insects! Tasks completed during the evenings meant stumbling around in semi-darkness with one solar powered light in a far corner so as not to attract even more of the beastly bugs! The two classrooms will have new cabinets to house the more practical storage system of “pull-out” crates and the local carpenter has been fully briefed. The Beavers’ donations will, more importantly, allow for the style of Nursery Education we take for granted in the UK and which has not been previously possible simply because this vital art and craft equipment was greatly lacking.

b) Allow the children to have “seriously”, fun-filled playtimes,  1) once weekly and 2) daily for 10-15 minutes:

1) Thanks to the Knaphill Beaver colony, their magical gift of a self-inflating bouncy castle led me to create a timetabled courtyard playtime session to take place every Friday. A trampoline and a long plastic play-tunnel, which were also donated by other Beaver colonies, will complete the play arena in the central courtyard of our centre. A trial run of this “indoor” playtime session took place, and the children’s smiles say it all! Their excitement, laughter and sheer happiness was a wonderful sight to witness.

On a slightly serious note, and as the children had never been on a bouncy castle, I did have to lose my dignity somewhat  in front of all children, staff, and visiting patients as I tried and failed to demonstrate the concept of “bouncing”! On a more serious note, teachers and staff were then fully briefed about important safety procedures during this weekly playtime session and the next daily session:    
2) Thanks to the tremendous fund-raising by Haven supporters, a superb playground has been constructed to the highest standards. The playground has totally transformed the front entrance to our centre. The equipment is sturdy and very colourful, having been painted in bright primary colours. This play area has been named Kalyan Park in memory of Kalyanbaba, founding member of MBCF.

Bright sunshine was to be had by all on the morning of the playground’s inauguration and the event proved to be highly entertaining. Emotional words were spoken by MBCF staff and the many villagers who had gathered for this momentous opening were very appreciative of all our efforts. There was huge applause and the children cheered and blew their very loud party “horn-blowers”! Each child then planted a marigold along the playground’s boundary so that the entrance pathway to our centre will be ablaze with colour when everybody arrives in December for the mega-medical camps.

The trial outdoor playtime then began in earnest and the children very willingly took part, not surprisingly!  A “log-trail”, picnic table and benches will be added to the playground and for this I visited local saw-mills to gather the required stock. This proved to be quite traumatic as in the midday sun I came face to face with mutated wasps that were 25 times bigger than wasps here in the UK; my screams proved to be louder than the log-cutting machinery!

c) Allow the setting up of timetabled weekly visits by the CP children to our centre, thanks to the brand new minivan gifted to us from Kalyanbaba. Meetings were held with all MBCF staff, key person being our new physiotherapist Tarok who will be responsible for the expert treatment desperately required by these children. Points were raised about staff co-operation and, more importantly, attitude and awareness regarding disability. In addition, all the learning centre children were made to understand what brain abnormality actually is, using drawings and what visible defects they will see in these CP children. The teachers have identified four responsible children who will begin the integration process; separated play equipment has been set aside for the planned Wednesday visits, during which time the bouncy castle, deemed safe by Tarok, will be used solely by the CP children, their carers and the four children from our learning centre.

d) Allow a better understanding of requirements for the December trip. Staff meetings were held to discuss patient canvassing, numbers involved, profiling and organisation. Requirements for Allegra and Catherine, our two gap students arriving 9th December, were also discussed; tasks have been assigned and planned so that all will be ready in time.

So, all in all, time well spent indeed!

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