Sunday, September 15, 2013


What is one thing that you will change in your life or around you?
Even a question can be liberating, it can set you free by offering you a landscape you don’t see for yourself. So when Satya asked the participants one thing they will like to change, it wasn’t merely a question. He opened a door for them. None of them may have ever imagined they are in control of their life. The question became an answer for them, ‘oh! I can change’. As you read them below you will see that their response was not clouded by their immediate realities… helped them see possibility and move away from problem. If that is not liberating, what is? 

‘Change’ Dream
Participant Name
I will work on education in and outside the village
N will get educated and educate others as well.
Sanjay, Ashok, Kamlesh, Jitendra, Sailender, Munna
I will not let anybody get married at an early age in my village.
I will not do bonded labour and will not let it happen.
I will stop Immolation (Killing animals in religious rituals) in my village.
Upendra, Jamui
I will work in providing IAY and electricity in anjani village
Niranjan(Cluster Coordinator)
I will arrange resources for education and study further.
I will not let any child dropout from school in my village.
Ranjeet(BASF Begusarai)
I will continue my studies nest 6 years till I pass B.A.
I will do KsM in my village.
I will go to hostel and study further.
I will complete my studies till B.A.
Kajal, Pooja
There is a great need of education and health facilities in my village. I will work on it.
I want to study further but my parents are against it.
I will study till B.A.
I will not follow superstitions related to my community (Musahar). I will also help youth of my community to make pressure on government officials for their rights.
Saurabh(Cluster Coordinator)
I will motivate youth towards education through BASF and will work for betterment of the society.
Amarjeet(BASF Rohtas)
I will put efforts and help in the best possible manner to facilitate realizing the resolutions made today by participants
Satyendra (Satya)(CSEI)
I will motivate girls towards education and will convince their parents.
Swati (Khel Se Mel)
I am a 5th class dropout. I will study further and complete my education till B.A.
I have studied till 1st standard. I will study further. I will also do KsM.
I will not follow bad rituals, customs and religious activities which are based on blind faith and superstition. I will practice gender equity in my family and society.
I will put best of my efforts to make teachers available in Marmezpur village, Rohtas, where teachers do not come.
Munna (Rohtas)
I will work to create learning experiences/activities to help all of you to learn what would be useful to achieve your dreams
Agyat(Khel Se Mel)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Khel se Mel in Dhanarua!

Training of Young people from Manjhi Community to enable them as Peer-Educator

September 6-8' 2013

“When education is based in theory and practice upon experience, it goes without saying that the organized subject-matter of the adult and the specialist cannot provide the starting point.” Dewey
Day 1
Training started at 11.50 am group arrived at11.15 am in 2 vehicles.
The participants have come out for the first time ever for a residential program.
For breakfast they were very hesitant to take a plate or serve themselves.
Poonam encouraged girls by serving them along with Archana and told them “sharma ke nahi chalega” (being shy would not help).
It was a good idea to get an elder woman -Shakuntala Devi from the community as escort. She encouraged girls to eat enough. All were very participative in games.
We started with games to help them build a relationship with each other and the space. In the first 70-80 minute session all of them were able to break-free quite early and played freely.
When we asked them in small groups their experience of the play session they were able to share their feelings. Following which we shared the core values with them.
After lunch Swati talked about different responsibilities like timekeeping, food, health, rooms, mood, outside campus needs and asked participants to take ownership of them. For each area boys and girls volunteered.
Within the hour one of the health person reported someone having headache and when the tea-break happened the timekeepers were very active and even came to remind us that its time.
Sanjay: sitting quietly under a tree after lunch of day 2.(I have never spotted him quiet or alone anytime that I have seen him earlier)
I went to him and asked what’s going on in his mind.
He thought for a while and said- "since yesterday I have been eating so different food. I have a room and a bathroom. I can express my feeling and there are people to talk to me. I think, if I study I will get all this all my life"

After another round of games we got them into smaller groups to do an activity on “rights and discrimination”. Starting with word association they have with rights and then with discrimination we gave them a set of old newspaper and asked them to make their own news paper of “rights & discrimination”. Next 15 minutes in smaller groups all of them took our clips relevant to them and made the newspaper. All of them were displayed and we asked groups to explain it to each other and ask questions about how any picture/text signifies rights or discrimination to them.
When we took them to their rooms in the evening, seeing them understanding their reality at that time indicated how far they have come today in terms of their life experiences especially for girls.
  • They were not sure about using bed sheets,
  • They were startled with the toilet flushing
  • They were not willing to stay alone or just 2.

Day 2
Morning started early as Munna and Upendra lead a games session.

We repeated all the games played on day one. While introducing some new games we also shared with them “how to introduce games while facilitating a session”.

Kamlesh- I have so many questions about my identity, caste system and why we are called the 'lowest caste". If I study Sanskrit and start doing all rituals I will be treated as higher caste or an equal. If so I will become a Sanskrit scholar.
Kamlesh loves to study (read). He had got some of his text books and some story books. At night he said he studied up to 1 am. When asked him why he shared that in his village there is no electricity. Since his room has power all night this is a golden chance to read when on bed. So he wants to make best of this opportunity.

In the next play session we introduced some games of experiential learning that are also related to classroom content.
In a conversation with Swati, Kaushalya Devi shared how her elder daughter who had not come for the training had stopped studying after 5th grade when she was beaten by a stick in the school. Her younger daughter who has come for the training goes to the school but when she took her elder daughter the school refused her admission.
While Tea break when Swati noticed Sanjay sitting in a corner and checked with him what is going on in his mind. Sanjay shared about the facilities at the venue, the food and training and expressed how he was reflecting on how far one can go if one is educated.

Stories – The objective of the session was to share stories of different ASF members and Poonam so the participants can see the possibilities in their lives and look ahead.

 Amarjeet spoke about his journey talking about how he faced discrimination and his struggle and what he is able to achieve today.
Poonam spoke about her struggle as a girl and how she had to come to hostel to escape 'child marriage'

Ashok of Jamui also spoke about his struggle and how being in ASF has helped him. He also talked about importance of ASF.

Ranvir of Begusarai also shared his journey.

Participants listened with rapt attention and when we asked them for their reaction some boys did share their feelings.
Rakesh talked about how coming to the training has been a success as they are opening up and able to speak their mind.
Shailendra talked about how everyone he has heard has gone through the struggle and has achieved something.
Kamlesh asked some basic questions starting from “did the caste system arrive from above or is it a creation on ground”, if it is arrived from above why can't we conduct our own worships. He also shared that he has a 'pitara' of questions when Swati suggested that he keep his questions and ask them when the time comes.
Girls did not feel comfortable to share their impression though we saw some queries in their eyes. We didn’t feel it right to put pressure on them.

Upendra shared his impression about cast system sharing how Britisher's left a power structure that higher casts have appropriated. Kamal later on added about the cast system based on “manu smiriti”

There were also talks about need for being organized to ask for our rights. We shared with them that on the last day of training we will talk about Bihar Ambedkar Students Forum (BASF) so that they can go back in their communities and establish their own ASF.
Anita: She has the potential to be a leader. When I asked here where she learnt so much from. She shared that she was in a hostel till 5th grade. That’s where she learnt all about life.
After meeting Poonam from Nari-Gunjan, Anita has found her calling. Poonam is her best friend now and will help her get admission in 8th grade of her hostel. Anita dreams to be a graduate.

 In the afternoon we showed them film based on Dr Ambedkar's life and struggle. It is a 3 hour film and for some of them it was quite testing. After the movie we asked them to make a note of questions they may have after seeing the film and told them we will have a discussion on the last day and Satya will also be there.
After revising some games we then moved in to doing a mock session.

To prepare for it we asked them to choose a game each that they will have to conduct in the whole group. Once each one has selected a game we shared with them how they can sequence their games for a play session.
Swati then spoke to them about body language. Speaking in clear terms she cautioned them about how they will have to act in a manner in the communities once they start so that they do not invite negative attention.

We then formed triads for them to practice games with each other and told them that tomorrow morning they will do a mock session where each one will conduct their own game.


Day 3

In the morning all of them played games along with some ASF members. Mamta was not well as she had thrown -up couple of times. We gave her a medicine and when I asked her she shared that as today was suppose to be fasting she overeat, she also said she has never gets sick.

Mock session – post breakfast we started the mock session. Each one was responsible to conduct a game.
Most of them just said the name of the game and expected the game to start, we had to constantly remind them that when they lead a game they are responsible for it and have to decide when to finish. 

Gudiya: She remained silent on day one and day2. Would participate but would not look into the eye and hesitate to come in the center to lead a game.
Day 3 of Gudiya- During the session on identity by Satya he asked each one to make 1 promise to the group about what they will do-change -start from today to make a difference to themselves or their community. Gudiya suddenly found a voice. With lot of conviction she shared that her brothers were sent to school while she was asked to cook Tiffin’s for them and then take cows and goats for grazing. She felt terrible and one day decided to stop cooking tiffin. Since then even her brothers stopped going to school. Gudiya is angry with her parents who never ever sent her to school. She wants to go start with knowing how to write her name. She shared that she felt bad when she saw other girls making note of games in the training while she couldn't.

As soon as any game started, they got involved in playing and none of them remembered to stay in control

They were able to lead action songs, though it was challenging for some of them to project their voice.

We had to hand hold, walk along for some of them to gather the courage to introduce their game

Rakesh who has more exposure and confidence among all of them while leading his game missed out some rules
Mamta: She was a quiet girl when she arrived. Very shy and would not look into the eye.
Mamta on day2 morning after 24 hours of KSM & Learning ways of using bathroom at night: This was best night of my life. I showered twice. Here clothes do not get wet as we can remove and bathe. We can wear same clothes again.
For the 1st time I used white sheet and I felt like princess when I slept in the soft bed.
Mamta on day 3: I am a dropout. I left school after 5th grade. This was 2 years back. I want to go back to school. Can I go to Poonam's hostel? I will convince my parents. I don't want to do labour work. I will study and bring change in woman's life in my community.
Mamta on day 3 after Satya's session on identity: Swati didi why don't you wear senduur?... No, you are not married. How can a married woman stay like this (pointing at my “barren”
head, wrist and toes)?
 Many girls were surprised which lead to a conversation on the fact that why married men don't why to wear any symbol where as married woman have all signs from head to toe.
Before leaving Mamta requested that she would like to study in a hostel and we must come and talk to her parents about this.

Ramanti who was relatively less participative and avoided any conversation with facilitators choose to do Hariyali and despite being tentative used her voice and I had to stand next to her and support her to finish her game

Sanjay, Shailendra, Munna, Kamlesh, Anita, Sitpatia were confident in their demeanor though they faltered introducing the game for lack of experience.
When I asked them after the session about their experience of participating vs. conducting most of them said they enjoyed both. In a way this was indicative of them not being able to see participating and conducting as 2 different things. Having no prior experience makes it difficult for them to see themselves as leaders/decision maker.

When asked if anyone was experiencing fear prior to leading their game, except for couple of exception most of them said there was no fear. Yet when we observed them while leading their games they were not able to give all instructions. These two facts combined indicate they will learn quickly as they start applying it.

Session on Identity by Satya

As Satya started his interaction with asking them what are the challenges they face? The session slowly moved into talking about identities. Some of the questions that Satya offered them were:

Who calls us names harijan, dalit, mahadalit, manjhi?

Why do they call us by that name?

How did we know which identity (Caste) we have/we are from?

How does our identity affect us?

Through dialogue it came out that most of the time we acquire an identity that is given and assume it to be true thus defining our realities.

Satya then asked them 'if you have a choice what will you like to be known as?' This got many people to change to different identity.

The discussion moved into asking 'what is our weapon against all powerful dominant cast who are keen to maintain status quo?'

There was some discussion around “Constitution” as a common reference. We talked about how 'constitution' gives us rights and remedies if there is a violation.

When the discussion started about how we can change the system, some ideas were
  • to draw inspiration from Ambedkar
  • to educate and organize
  • to help people with a vision for future so they know where they are walking to

There was a Question & Answer session as many of them had questions. Some of which were triggered by watching the film on “Ambedkar”.

In response to what helped Ambedkar to go so far despite oppression?, Satya built connection between the provision of Scholarship in the constitution and how it eased Ambedkar to go for higher studies and that's how he made sure to get it in the constitution.

There was another question about poverty as an equalizer and when it was asked if a poor Brahman and a poor Dalit are same?  Everyone was clear that it is not. Satya shared with them that when it comes to cast other factors diminish.
It was quite an enriching session and I believe that it helped everyone to build a perspective. The fact that we had done an activity on “Rights and discrimination” on day 1 in hindsight became more relevant as they were able to connect.

Impromptu SONG Session- We asked Poonam to sing the song she has sung in Delhi before we took a break for lunch. During lunch Lakho talked to Swati and said she wants to sing also. She was one of the quietest of the participants so it was a pleasant surprise when she asked to sing.
Action Plan
Satya asked each participant to commit to one thing they will change, within them or outside.
Most of the people wanted to focus on education. One girl said about stopping early marriage including herself. Another person said to stop child-labour practice.

What we did not see forthcoming despite all our believe about Play for Peace having transformative power was the anger that came to surface in girls when they said they want to go to school. Neetu, Gudia, Ramanti, Mamta, Lakho, Basanti, and Kajal: all of them have dropped out at some stage. On the first 2 day of the training the girls were very tentative whenever education/going to school came up in any conversation. Most of the time they were quite reluctant to express their opinion.

Yet! They were experiencing.....learning and quietly trying to make sense of it. When the conversation about change began some girls were still tentative about speaking their mind. When they realised it is for real, they spoke about wanting education and how parents have asked them not to.

Neetu who would avoid eye contact with me (Agyat) called me close to her and said, “I want to study, my parents have stopped me”.

Ranjana also asked me to come close and whispered, “I also want to study”.  These were voices that have never found ears, and this made the whole training come alive.

The critical part was to ask everyone to think of one thing they will like to change themselves, with support. The question coming from wind of possibility swept away self-doubts and brought the concerns to surface.
Satya also assured them and took commitment for them to study till graduation and that he will do everything possible to support them.

Following this we asked them to sit in tola groups to make a general action plan for each tola. Since there was little time Satya asked them, “who are comfortable conducting Play for Peace sessions on their own”. We then had 2 groups one was of children who are relatively younger (11-14) and other young people. Munchun who is younger (6th grade) chose to come in the facilitating group, while Mamta who is probably 16 decided to opt out of it as she felt shy.

It was decided that all of them will visit one tola every day and conduct play for peace session there. Day and time was decided for each tola and Satya assured them that their travel expense will be covered.

Five main action points for training participants –

·         Forming ASF in Tolas.
·         Starting the process to setup ERCs and Libraries in Tolas.
·         Conducting Khel se Mel in tolas each week regularly one by one, each day.
·         Focusing on Manjhi children for facilitating environment to study.
·         ASF members to guide self and others to study.
·         Arranging film screening in tolas.
Khel se male team who will be visiting tolas to conduct KsM games
Jitendra/Sanjay/Saurabh/Sailendra/Munna/Pratima/ Anita/Kamlesh/ Rakesh
Schedule for doing KsM
3:30 PM – 5:30 PM
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
If there will be any gap then KsM can be on this day
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
What did we learn/relearn?
We are Play for Peace since 2000. That has been the single most focal point of our lives since we began it. The conviction of how it works as an enabler, a path-breaker, an attractor, transformative has only grown with time. Yet some time when we see a fresh group doubts surface, the stage-freight kind. So when the young people from Dhanarua arrived their immediate body language, inhibition, apparent fear made us wonder, how much headway we will be able to make with the group. The concern was to not overwhelm them and not do anything that will reinforce their fear about new experiences.
(I am glad our heart was at the right place)

Agyat – in 13 years 99% of the time we have started our trainings with a set of games that happen in circle including a name game. Here we chose a non-circle game, “walk and stop” and for next 7-8 minutes we were just walking. What is the big deal about walking.....precisely! No big deal! It worked, as John Dewey says, “The beginning of instruction shall be made with the experiences learners already have.”
Walk and Stop not only started with what is familiar it also helped them built familiarity with us, with the space and turned out to be very appropriate. It opened them up for experiencing the training in a positive frame of mind.

Swati – When I escorted the girls to the rooms where they will stay overnight, it was intriguing to watch their reaction as everything was first time for them. To have their own bed, own sheets, own rooms were a unique experience. When I showed them how to flush the toilets, they jumped back unfamiliar with the gush of water! My mind was wrestling with thoughts about how even just being here for them is a profound experience. How do we make the training content relevant for them? How much will they be able to grasp? How do we plan so the 3 days are not so overwhelming yet an adventure?

To my utter joy on the second day when we started revising games, girls were freely participating, singing as if that's the most usual act for them or that they are in familiar surroundings. There and then I relearned never to underestimate a group....or to say it differently “trust the process” ….Play for Peace!

….and yes, we are Play for Peace practitioners so we can endlessly go about how it works. This time though we had a fresh pair of eyes, a new heart who was part of the training, Kamal Naresh is the TISS intern with CSEI who was helping us in the training. At the end we asked him to share his impression & observation. So! This time for a change, here are the last words (of this report).....


Reflections about the three day training programme during 6th Sep to 8th Sep
Dated: 9th Sep, 2013             by: Kamal Naresh 
·         It was observed that participants were quite hesitant and only those took initiatives who had prior exposure with the people (Facilitators) or the environment at large. There were very few who opened up themselves even till the 2nd day.
·         The play for peace as a methodology for inclusion was instrumental in giving a space to those who never had it and there were many chances when the strategies planned in KsM games provoked hesitant participants to take initiatives and helped them to gain confidence in themselves.
·         I could see and feel how strong this method of experiential learning is and how it is positive in every aspect of it. I observed that it certainly helps people to learn new things in much simpler and easier way.
·         On the critical issues of rights and discrimination all the participants took active part. While explaining the chart they had prepared they linked it with their idea of rights and the kind of discrimination they face in and around their society.
·       I had an impression in the beginning that the children would not be able to open up themselves in such a limited period of time of three days. This was proved wrong as by the 3rd day I could see that there was a notable change in children’ ability to express themselves.
·         The session on Rights and Discrimination was done in such a manner that I could never imagine that it could be taught in this way also. The issue was a critical one and something that is sensitive to the participants as they all belonged to the most vulnerable, deprived and marginalised section. This session and its application was quite helpful for me as well as to understand and experience a method which is easy in practice and successful in bringing learning results.
·         Post movie screening session also impressed me as at the end of the movie, participants asked such a thoughtful question and needed their answers seriously. I was surprised to see that the participants had started thinking and raising questions. They all seemed concerned with the issue and wanted to bring change in their present condition.
……a CSEI & Play for Peace® initiative