Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Inspection Notes

Notes from our Madam Inspector Anu, who visited Karunya Mane this month (and a few notes from her November visit)... She continues to do a fabulous job talking with our kids about life issues.

March Visit
Since it's almost exam time, Anu spoke to the kids about working really hard during this last month of school, particularly in subjects in which they do not yet score full marks, like English. Anu said that Harish, Prema, Asha, Pooja, and Kaleem are confident in math and Kannada. All of the kids unanimously chose Pooja as the best among them! They said that everything is easy for Pooja and that she scores the highest marks in all subjects.

Here's Pooja at a recent school dance program (in the black dress):

Anu then explained that there are two reason for them to study hard and be on their best behavior: 

a) They must try their best to be promoted to the next level, but they should not cry if they are made to repeat, as it just means they did not work hard enough and they should try again, and 

b) If they behave badly and are lazy in studies, they won't be allowed to go on the special outing during the summer (April/May). We are big on teaching our kids that there are consequences to our actions.

Anu noted that Prema is making real progress and now pays attention and participates. This is in contrast to her behavior earlier, when she fidgeted a lot and had no attention span.

Anu then explained that some kids will be allowed to go home for up to five days after school finishes. She then asked what the boys did the last time they went home. Nanjunda and Venkatesh admitted that they spent the time on the street, so Anu reminded them that they are not "street kids" anymore and should not venture into that environment.

The kids who do not have parents understood that KM is their home and that they will remain with us throughout the summer. Harish, whose mom passed away in November, nodded his head in agreement.

November Visit
In November (sorry for the delay), Anu had a nice talk with the kids about bodily fluids, germs, and diseases. So what happens if someone has a fall or a scrape or an accident? Whenever possible, she said, try to wear gloves, and if this is not possible or if they come in contact with blood accidentally, wash it of immediately with soap. 

Anu then talked about the many diseases that spread through blood and that everyone must be extremely careful not to touch any body's blood. The other germ-bearing body fluids like saliva, urine, and poop are also dangerous and spread disease. 

She then emphasized that, as much as we should not touch others' body fluids and excretions, we should be careful in disposing our own. "See that the toilet is clean after finishing a pee or poop!" She explained that if we mess the toilet as she does many times (!), clean it with a stick broom, pour water, and then check that the area is clean for the next person to use. 

Then Anu asked them about bad habits. The kids listed some bad habits, like smoking, drinking, chewing pan parag (tobacco chew), gambling, and sniffing glue. She explained that such bad habits affect our thinking and reasoning. The brain, which is smarter than a computer, begins to spoil and starts working badly, making people do bad things. Bad habits makes people addicted and then they go to any length to get the money to drink. They will even sell their belongings and loved ones. 

She told them a story about a girl who was sold by her father because he was a drunk and needed money. Our kids were wide-eyed and said that was very bad. The moral of the story was that addiction makes people do unreasonable and wicked things to those around them, including their loved ones. She asked them if they had seen drunk men beat up their wives? Many of them raised their hands. She asked them why the men do not beat other men instead of their wives? Sreenevasa and Lokesh said it's because other men would beat them back, whereas their wives take all the beatings. Sreenevasa said, "Poor wife will be waiting for her husband, she will have cooked for him and he comes home and beats her!" 

Anu then asked the kids who had indulged in any bad habits and they all pointed to Manikanta(!). Manikanta said that he used to sniff glue, and also said he would not do it again. I explained to them that drinking will spoil their livers and kidneys, and they could die. Nanjunda and Harish nodding in agreement. Both lost their moms in 2008 to alcoholism.

Anu then asked which kids still hit each other ("oh my God, you still do that?"). Prema, Harish, Asha, and Lokesh raised their hands. She explained that we should use our body parts like hands, legs, mouth, brain, to do positive things and not to hit, kick, speak badly or do badly  to others. God lives within each person and when we beat another, we are disrespecting Him. Usually, the big sibling hits the little sibling, and Anu was thoroughly amused at their total honesty in their confessions. She then asked them to promise never to hit one another ever again. And they did ("Ha ha, we'll have to see on that one!").

Anu closed by talking about the many kinds of people in the world, some good, some not so good, and some people even influence others to make wrong choices and do things that are not good. So how do we decide what is good for us and what is not? The older kids said we should think and use our brains (!) and decide what is good for us and what is not. 

(Our older kids are quite grown up and know a lot.)