Just One arrived at the Shiva Ji Mission School today Saturday 22nd April and again there were parents in the principal’s office discussing enrolment of their children in the school. The formal start of the next school year will not be until after summer break, in July. However these preparatory months of April and May not only serve to prepare the children for the rigours of the formal upcoming school year, but also allow parents to discuss their children’s education with the schools. Often this is about deciding on a school, but often for those families at Shiva Ji Mission School it is about understanding the value of education for all children.
The weekend of Easter is like in any other weekend in Varanasi. The Christian community here is very small, and so most businesses open as normal including government and schools. Shiva Ji Mission school is no exception, and the Just One team arrive at 10am on the 15th April for their fruit distribution program.
The school is still very quiet, with all the 200 students engrossed in their classes. The teacher of the youngest class is seated with the children and they are all listening intently to her. In other room the teacher walks around the room as the students each read a short piece from their books. In yet another classroom the teacher is sitting at the back of the room and each student is bringing him their homework for checking and if needed correction.
Today is just 5 days since our last visit, but already the number of children at the school has increased significantly to about 200. Today the Just One team is here for the first hot meal of this new school year. It’s only April 8th, but the hot sun is already blazing down and the school hours have been moved earlier in the day so the children are not walking home in the hottest part of the day.
hen the Just One team arrives at the Shiva Ji Mission School today there is an unusual quietness. We can see the children in their classrooms and the teachers walking around the room, but it is much quieter today, Monday 3rd April.
We find out that today is essentially the first formal day of a new school year. The school did open on the previous Saturday but today is the first day of classes. Most of the classrooms are only partially filled except for the kindergarten and pre-Kindergarten rooms. These are full by our standards, but we recognise more students will be accommodated as new students join the school. Many of the 3 and 4 year olds in these rooms look a little stunned and look around at everything, including the Just One team and the oranges they receive - with their big round eyes staring and mouths open.
All the students are completing their final exams and so there is an uncanny silence throughout the whole Shiva Ji Mission School today when the Just One team arrives. Exams are a time for serious concentration, from the smallest children to the oldest who will soon be completing their schooling. It is such a contrast to the joyous cacophony of delighted children’s voices that so often precedes our entry in the schoolyard.
However, this silence doesn't last long. Very soon the exams are over and we are greeted with the customary cheers.Almost all the 340 students are here today and each room is full.
The exam period for all classes at the Shiva Ji Mission School finished yesterday, and today, 11th March 2017, is the day before the Hindu festival of Holi begins. The result is a palpable exuberance and excitement amongst all the students and the teachers. Holi is the festival of color, and traditionally it is celebrated with ecstatic and enthusiastic throwing of many brightly colored powders. When the Just One team arrive at the school to provide a hot meal, many of the children already have bright red powder dusting their clothes, in their hair, on their face, arms and legs however when we arrive they are sitting quietly in their classrooms, absorbing their lessons.
Today is Saturday 4th March, and it is the day before the formal end of year exam period at Shiva Ji Mission School, Lakshmanpur, Varanasi.
The Just One team have arrived to distribute oranges to the 320 students enrolled at the school and we find a subdued air that is quite different to the usual experience when we arrive. This is especially noticeable amongst the older students, but common across the classes - even the kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes. The students are paying close attention to their books, and to their teachers. They seem focussed on making the best possible last minute use of these resources to make sure they have everything they need to know for their exams next week.
Today is 23rd February and it feels like summer is already here. As the Just One team arrives at the Shiva Ji Mission School in Laxmanpur, Varanasi, the children are already returning to their classrooms after their break and the dust raised by the children’s boisterous playtime is beginning to settle. I notice the classes have changed rooms since our last visit, with the youngest ones where the oldest ones used to be, and vice versa. It makes a nice difference as we all go around greeting the approximately 340 children that are at school today.
Once the food is perfectly cooked the team quickly begins to serve, starting with the youngest children as always. Despite the obvious poverty of so many of these children, their smiles are gloriously sweet and contain such innocence. There is a vibrancy, a sparkle of the divine in their joyousness. I feel awestruck to be surrounded by such purity, such beauty, and all else no longer matters. It is at this time that I am privileged to briefly experience the real wealth of life, the blessings of the divine.
The preparatory construction work at the Sathya Sai Maa Moksha Dham has already commenced. When we arrive today there are builders, carpenters and other tradesmen all around the area where the children's food distribution program is usually held and the team realises quickly that this has to be the last program here until construction of the Ashram completes.
There is sadness regarding the conclusion of this program as seving the children living around the Ashram has created special bonds , but there is also excitement at the completion of the Ashram and all the opportunities this will bring.
n 16th February, Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust accompanied our guest, Yoshiko, from the Sai Maa Europe community to the Shiva Ji Mission School. The purpose was two-fold
a. To look at the needs of the school both structurally and academically
b. To distribute writing materials to the students
When we arrived we were warmly welcomed and a table set up for the materials to be distributed. As usual the oldest students automatically jumped in to assist without being asked, and very soon a table and cloth was set up and the paper, pens and pencils were ready to be distributed.
Get the latest information on Sai Maa's humanitarian projects.