It was in the KGBV Gilaula of Shrawasti district in Uttar Pradesh that I met Seema Srivastav – a young, smart, friendly and much loved former warden of the school. Seema passionately described her experience as a KGBV warden for the past 5 years. She has been so close with the students that she is often visited by even the parents of the alumnae. Having been recently chosen to be a primary teacher, Seema is continuing to stay in KGBV for a while more until the students get used to the fact that she is leaving them.

From Seema I got to know that the bridge course that KGBV offers not only helps the dropped out girls in learning everything faster but also getting acclimated to the school environment. It usually takes one to two months for the newcomers to stay with other students. They are often worried about their well-being in a completely new place, surrounded with strangers and following strict routines. Join My Village trains the teachers in treating everyone equally and making the lessons interesting through the use of class activities, stories and poems. These help the students get well accustomed to the school. Finally when they do have to go home, it is impossible for them to leave without crying for several days, or even months.

Seema mentioned that what parents like about the school is the security that the students have in the compound. Parents are provided with the opportunity to learn about the school and the value of education through a two-days-long summer camp that is arranged every year. Prospective students are also provided with the opportunity to stay at the school for a few days so they can make sure that they like the place before registering their names.

Seema is about to embark on a new career as a primary school teacher. She has been through three months of training, during which she taught the students through activities that she had learned while in KGBV. She saw that students were able to learn faster as the lessons became interesting. Her confidence level also improved as a result. She proudly mentioned that she is the only teacher in the primary school who has been trained by Join My Village. Seeing her teach, other teachers in the school are also learning to use stories, poems and activities in their classes.

As she begins her new job, Seema’s wish is to be as dedicated to her work as she was at KGBV. Spending half an hour with her made me realize the ripple effect that Join My Village is making on the ground.

Sharon Panackal