Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Facebook Page

Alfa recently created its first ever facebook page! On our new page viewers can learn about everything Alfa related and take a look at pictures from different events. Be sure to like our page when you visit. The link is below.

Karawara Issues

Children Issues         
            Education is the key to a child’s future and in many cases children are denied access to the resources necessary for proper development. Children in Karawara do not have a place to enhance their learning process. Many go to school, but do not pursue quality higher education because they have no interest in the education process. The schools do not provide children with a creative learning environment to express their thoughts and feelings. They are crammed behind desks and taught to read out of textbooks. Children need to develop intellectually through a variety of learning techniques; creativity being a key factor to this.
            There is also widespread gender discrimination in education. The people do not prefer their girls to go to schools. 80% of the total girls who go to school have not studied above middle school. This is a staggering figure because these young girls have almost no chance of finding meaningful work later in life. Males and females should have equal opportunity to their futures. This project envisions creating an environment for children where they can develop and link themselves to others; an important need of the children. Various factors hinder this growth and development. Children have no platform or forum to express and exchange their views and ideas. Neither the children nor their parents are aware about child rights. The level of participation in village development and decision making is limited. There are neither spaces nor opportunities for children to develop their self awareness within families and community.

Youth Issues
            The Karawara youth are at a perilous crossroads in their lives. They do not possess the education or applicable skills to have a successful career in the future. Many youth stop their education after the tenth standard and leave for Kuwait to pursue labor work and low incomes. They see these jobs only in the short term to earn money and fail to see the long term picture. There are few opportunities presented to this youth and this continues the cycle of poverty and poor education. Youth lack a general understanding of social issues, human rights, and political awareness. All of these increase the pre existing tensions between Hindus, Muslims and tribal religious groups. Many of these problems can be directly correlated to their poor education background and lack of opportunities for future advancement.

Alfa Information -- In English!

Organization Information
                ALFA Educational Society has been working in and around the village of Karawara since its inception in 2006. Founded by Lokesh Kalal, a lifelong resident of Karawara, ALFA is a genuinely local organization with long standing roots in the community. Over the years, ALFA has developed a positive reputation within the community through its work with youth and child development, environmental protection, and communal harmony issues. ALFA’s local origins have also allowed the organization to understand the problems and needs of the community much more holistically than an NGO unfamiliar to the area.

                The organization believes in a human rights-based and community-centered approach to development. ALFA believes in the power of young people to remedy the ills of their society. Education gives children the key to finding solutions to community issues. Knowledge is power and our goal is to develop the creative and reasonable thinking of Karawara’s youth to harness this power. The organization seeks to provide local youth with the opportunities and resources necessary to change both their lives and their communities for the better. The activities listed below directly correspond with our organization’s vision and work towards improving the youth standard in Karawara.

Executive Board Members:
          Lokesh Kalal has finished his Master’s Degree in Sociology and B.A of English and Hindi Literature. He started the work of Alfa in 2005 with lifelong friend Jahid Makrani. In 2006 he worked actively with his village and decided to undergo the registration process to make Alfa Educational Society official. There were many struggles starting a local NGO. Family and friends were skeptical of the lack of income and few people appreciated the work he was trying to accomplish in his hometown. Lokesh previously worked with Seva Mandir where he gained most of his knowledge on the operations of a successful and sustainable NGO. He is currently involved in the Learning Leadership Journey fellowship through Commutiny the Youth Collective organization. The program is based out of Delhi and requires quarterly reports on communal harmony progress. Lokesh is also involved in his community Panchayat and has implemented many successful activities in the name of Alfa in the Karawara community. These activities include the annual Communal Cricket Tournament, English Language Action Program, Community Demographic Survey and the Youth Express quarterly publication to name a few. Lokesh prides himself as a man of values. These values include accountability, responsibility and always having an open mind to sensitive issues. His main concern is the Karawara youth and how they can impact the communal relations as they become the adults of the village.
                Jahid Makrani – Partner of Lokesh Kalal in starting Alfa Educational Society. Jahid brings a lot of NGO experience to our organization. He has taken on many projects at Seva Mandir which include communal relations work, a youth program to enhance livelihoods and an alternative education initiative. His core values consist of team work, leadership and initiative. Jahid serves as Alfa secretary and language specialist. He is crucial to drafting new reports and project proposals.
                Ganesh Patel – The most recent addition to the executive team, Ganesh is the treasurer of Alfa. He has worked with the organization for one year and is the first member of Sanjha Manch to graduate and give back to Alfa. He was a natural leader among all of the youth that attended Alfa activities and was given more of a leadership role to help develop his skills. He has finished his Master’s degree in social work and has recently started work with Mahan Seva NGO. Ganesh works with local youth and contributes significantly to Youth Express publication that gives details about the community and its youth. He has also done work with the National Rural Employment Research to help guarantee work for local farmers for 100 days. Ganesh is a great asset to Alfa through all of the time and work he has contributed to our organization.
                Preeti Bhogal – Vice President of Alfa Educational Society. She has completed her Masters in Social Work from Udaipur School of Social Work. Preeti is particularly interested in women’s rights and gender studies. She contributes significantly to our female education program and the development of art education classes.

Sanjha Manch Concept Note
                Sanjha Manch is meant to be a symbol of learning, tolerance and youth for the Karawara community. Located at Alfa’s headquarters, it is a safe and understanding environment for children and youth to learn about themselves, their future and social issues. Sanjha Manch will be a cornerstone of Karawara when this project is complete. Community members will view Alfa as an integral part of its educational development.
                Everyone is encouraged to express themselves in a positive way. To help children speak freely, we created an understanding environment where people don’t judge the differences of others, but seek to understand them. Most importantly, the youth come to have fun and to learn! Learning does not only happen in a school house and we aim to show children the fun they can have with their education. If children have fun they won’t view school as a requirement, but something that they want to do. Our mission is to spark their interest in their own education and future.
                With a passionate leader in Lokesh Kalal, Sanjha Manch has all ready demonstrated that it can have a positive impact on its community. Recently, we held a meeting with twenty of Karawara’s youth to listen to a guest professor on the importance of having dreams and how to make these goals become reality. It is amazing to see a group of young people come together and become inspired to make the most out of their lives.
                The children have engaged in basic English classes and art activities that help teach them to express their views and personalities. One specific activity is the Word Map exercise. The children gather around a large chart of various pictures of the Prime Minister, a village and many others. Each child writes and explains what each picture makes them think. This activity helps stimulate positive thinking, increase word association and facilitate discussions. This is the balance that Sanjha Manch will keep between youth (young adults) and children.
                The primary focus of Sanjha Manch is to impact the Karawara community. Unfortunately, the problems with education and child migration are intensified as you travel to the surrounding villages. Alfa will also work with its neighboring village of Barodwada to combat these problems. Barodwada is a short walk away and local children can attend many of the Sanjha Manch activities. Forums can also be coordinated in this village to promote further participation by Barodwada parents.
                Between Karawara and Barodwada there are over 750 children and youth. This is our target number because we want to impact every child within these communities. Realistically, Sanjha Manch will be able to hold up to 30 people per activity. I strongly believe we can make a positive impact on the majority of these children through the proposed activities.