It is one of the most endearing images of a Granny session that I have. A few years into the start of Granny sessions at KHELGHAR and a somewhat changing group later, Jackie was interacting with a few of the boys she had gotten to know fairly well in the past few months. This was back in 2012.
KHELGHAR is a community-based recreational centre that supports the children and the community. Their brief has expanded over the years to support the children’s academic efforts alongside a wide range of activities including field trips to relatively nearby lakes and forts. Craft with recycled material, gardening, games, discussion groups on environmental as well as interpersonal issues are among just a few of the activities the
staff conduct with the children on a regular basis.
A discussion session in progress at Khelghar 2008 [Photo: Suneeta]
KHELGHAR operates on a ‘social parenting’ orientation; and enabling the children and the community to become responsible citizens is a key goal. Operating in the Lakshmi Nagar area – [a vasti (slum community) that has changed substantially over the years as access to electricity, water, and paved lanes (albeit tiny ones) became part of the settlement], the KHELGHAR staff (some who live in the same community) take their commitment very seriously.
A view from one of the homes in the ‘vasti’ – 2012 [Photo: Suneeta] The ‘main road’ of the Vasti – 2012 [Photo: Suneeta]
Small group activities underway at Khelghar – 2012 [Photo: Suneeta]
They didn’t have much by way of resources but they more than made up for it with will and effort. So the children would come down the hill, from their ‘vasti’ across the road – to the more ‘middle class’ residential area where most of the KHELGHAR activities and its ‘office’ was located. The office was one room of a flat on the very top floor that was used for all the children’s activities – their library, their language and Math activities, their painting and craft area, their staff training, gardening in the terrace, science corner. You name it, they found a spot for it.
Every space had multiple uses – different groups, different activities, different times. And the office was no different. The one computer off in one corner next to a desk was it! The rest of the room included a pantry kitchen and storage area with material for the children.
So come Granny session time and the staff would vacate their area and give it and the one computer to the children so they could connect with Jackie. English was a language the staff was only a tiny bit more familiar with than the children and they enjoyed the sessions as much as kids. But there was this injunction to ‘not intervene’, to ‘let the children manage on their own’. But the staff wanted to be in on it too. And they were!
Perched on desk and countertops, wherever they could find space, several young members of the staff would look on and smile. And giggle and follow the story along with the children, as it unfolded…
Next time you see a staff member hanging around one of your sessions… know that you are reaching them too…
KHELGHAR was featured on the One Show on BBC in 2012. This Granny Cloud centre is currently dormant.