Last week, Lauren and I were staying at Shankar Prasad, a "Yoga Meditation Organic Farm." Swarmiji, the saddhu
who leads all the yoga and meditation (the lady in orange), asked the community what they wanted above all else, and they voted for an English speaking school. So with the help of volunteers, they built one, found teachers and set up the school. At the moment they have 14 students, but have the space to accommodate a few more.
The children were allowed to play around 11.30am, after the serious business of schooling, so one day I went over with a bucket of clay. The clay was procured from a potter neighbour for 50 rupees (50p). I had wanted to take some pictures of the potter at work, but a festival was on so he'd stopped production for the week. This is not uncommon in India, especially in the state of Karnataka, where there's least one festival every month. The clay was not ideal; completely dried-out and full of rocks, so I had to put in some elbow grease to get it workable.
I had to come up with an easy activity to do with them, so thought we could make little bowls. Shankar Prasad has many palm trees which are harvested every year, so there are coconut husks lying around in piles. Mostly they are used as fuel for cooking on chulha (stoves). Gas is expensive here, so most people in the villages cook using these primitive (wood) stoves. This can be very smokey, depending on the fuel, but helps make excellent chapatis.
Anyway, I gathered up a bundle of husks and took them over, showing the children how to press a ball of clay into them to make a bowl. I had them repeating the word "PRESS" and "PRESSING" as we worked. Some of them were into it and got the idea straight away, one girl hid behind a palm tree for a long time, another burst into tears, and a couple of them just wanted to play with toy cars. But, in the end and with the encouragement of Swarmiji, they did all manage to make a bowl, and we put them out to dry on the roof of the school.
|What a lovely bowl! Just beautiful.|
After bowl production, we switched to making snakes!
The playground is fantastic--built with entirely recycled materials by Mark, a
volunteer who worked as a civil engineer. I had fun there, even when the kids had gone home.
|The run up to the slide.|
|Lauren asked this girl to hold her bowl so she could snap a photo. A moment later, the girl flung it to the grass. I don't see pottery in her future.|
|Me left to clean up the discarded dibs of clay.|
|Pretty exciting red racing car. How can clay compete with that?|
After clay time, it was lunch... rice and a little sambar, with a glass of milk.
This little girl was my favourite, she was the most excited about clay and helped me carry them up to the roof.
|Some nuts drying on the roof.|
|Little people's bowls.|