Seva 101

Creating awareness about the social outreach programmes is the key to enlisting the SBS community in immersive experiences which are a part of our learning experience at school.

We have two main outreach programs — Seva and Sahyog.

Sahyog is an intensive faculty-led 4-day programme undertaken three to four times a year where selected students go off-site to our partner village in Uttarakhand. Here students support them with livelihood, healthcare, and education. Seva is a year-round student-led program designed to help schools in our backyard. It consists of repeated and regular engagements aimed at improving the overall educational experience of the adopted schools we are associated with; Dr Ruhi’s foundation school (a school run by an NGO) and Shahpur Prathmik Vidyalaya (a government school). Rohillapur and Kakrala Prathmik Vidyalay are schools we contribute to, too. These schools educate underprivileged children at a nominal or no fee. Being short on funds, they have just the bare necessities of infrastructure and resources. This is where the SEVA program comes in.

As some may be aware, the Seva Program is divided into two main parts — Seva ICT and Seva Prayaas.

Seva ICT is aimed at giving students of Dr Ruhi’s foundation school practical computer knowledge. The school already has a computer program and teachers to teach them but very few computers. Imagine having to learn the theory of how to switch a computer on without ever having run your fingers across a keyboard — an impractical experience. The SBS Seva team assembles every Saturday and allows these children to practice in our own computer labs. Along with giving them access to computers, we teach them tips and tricks and how to get things done faster and more efficiently while revising theoretical content.

Seva Prayaas, on the other hand, is in association with Shahpur Prathmik Vidyalaya and Rohillapur, government schools located in villages about a 5 minute bus ride from our school. These schools are underfunded and the teachers don’t have adequate resources to adopt effective teaching methods. Prayaas is engaged in two main interventions — academics and extra-curricular. The SBS faculty and student volunteers provide academic support by teaching children Foundation Literacy and Numeracy (FLN). This essentially includes teaching them basic English and mathematics. We also engage the students in co-curricular activities (visual and performing arts, and sports). Every Saturday, our SBS Seva volunteers go to the school and conduct either dance, singing, or drama classes with these children. Last year, we had the pleasure of organising the very first sports day for all three schools. We plan to start organising more yearly events like an interclass art or dance competition. The limitations of this program are only restricted by the imagination and efforts of our volunteers.

In addition to the time and energy, the SBS Seva team often holds fundraisers during PTMs and other school events by selling handmade craft and baked goods to finance the plans we envision.

The Seva program gives volunteers an insight into how the majority of Indian students are studying. Along the way, volunteers who set out to teach and help these children but actually end up learning so much themselves. They learn teaching skills and pivotal life values like sensitivity, respect, and gratitude and become responsible and compassionate global citizens.

Furthermore, because our program is volunteer-centric, we are always open to new ideas and teaching methods. It provides insight into the working of all aspects of any organization involved in social work including ideation, implementation, and fundraising, working both on the ground as well as with back-end planning.

Like most programs in the world, COVID-19 has affected us, too. Since both our adopted schools are closed, we have started producing videos, made by our volunteers, to recap what we had taught them last term for a smooth transition to the physical program. In terms of extra-curriculars, we have planned storytelling videos and plan to start making dance tutorials, too.

The Seva program is highly dependent on volunteers. It is a bilateral exchange; The SBS students gain experience and a wider understanding of how everyone except the top 10% is living, and help the underprivileged children gain from our resources and new methods of teaching.

It is really up to the imagination of our volunteers to take the Seva team forward. This is a chance to actually make a difference and be part of a change. You have the opportunity to change the injustice that surrounds us at a ground level and perhaps aim to transform the larger picture one prayaas at a time.