To celebrate and explore the potential of student leadership, Teach For All is collecting and sharing stories from across the network and around the globe. When students LEAD, we all LEARN.

Teach For India

Parents Awareness Camp using Poetry

Student Leaders
Shaliya
Adult Supporter
Amrit Raj
Age of Students
11

Please describe how your students exercised their leadership and the impact they had.

I work in an extremely marginalized community called Seelampur in Delhi. The living conditions are highly deplorable and the community is plagued with violence, extreme poverty and pollution. It is primarily a Muslim majority community and most of the residents are either skilled workers or migrants.
It is in these conditions that one of my students Shaliya has honed her poetry skills. She belongs to a family of four, where her father is the sole bread earner and works as a tailor in a shop. Her mother has been suffering from tuberculosis which has affected her spine and she has been bed ridden for more than a year. This family of four lives in a small room of 8 feet by 8 feet, living a life of constant deprivation and struggle. The community is unhygienic and the living conditions are deplorable. In these conditions Shaliya has shown extreme resilience and her passion for learning never stops. She is constantly motivated by her elder sister who has just passed class 10th. He knack for poetry has now grown into a movement in itself.
Slam out Loud which is a Project I am associated with decided to collaborate with Indus Action in order to use poetry as a medium to create awareness in parents about RTE Sec 12 (1) (C). Indus Action works to create awareness about SEC 12 (1)(C) which talks about occupation of 25 % of the seats in private schools by Economically Weaker Section(EWS) of the society. Shaliya was already associated with the movement of Slam Out Loud which uses poetry as a medium to voice out opinions and feelings in kids.
Shaliya decided to visit one of the awareness camps with me and used her poetry skills to convey the importance of education to more than 50 mothers in another extremely deprived community called Mauzpur. The mothers were quite moved by her confidence and her awareness and quite a few of them decided to exercise their rights so that they could make their children get excellent education. I was myself moved by the fact that she could answer their questions in both English and Hindi with utmost confidence and agility and did not show an iota of nervousness. She was upfront in describing about her economic conditions and her learnings in the school. She described her emotions beautifully with poetry of her own and the mothers were quite moved by it. I just stood awe struck and could not hope for better.

What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?

I only acted as someone who brought in the opportunity for her. The way she grabbed it and the way she maneuvered it into something of her own was nothing but her own efforts.
I had enrolled her in the workshops of Slam out Loud where she learnt how to use poetry as a medium to convey what one wants to with utmost care and precision and with brazen strength and honesty. She has been quite an observer and a learner and I keep it fueling with more resources.The knack of poetry and the conviction of learning overshadows all the financial bottlenecks and I make sure that these roadblocks do not affect her path of success.
She used a bilingual approach in the camp and probably she picked it up from me, as I follow this in my class. But I would definitely say that my role was limited and only concerned with the logistics and facilitating part of it.

What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?

Poetry is something which reflects ones own personality and which paves path for searching the inner core. It is a pure form of expression and reaches directly to the heart. I learnt that simplicity is so simple that it cannot be imparted or delivered, it works in its own way. I cannot force something on someone and then think that It would turn out as something I wanted. Art takes its own course. The way Shaliya has grown up in my one year of fellowship and previously makes me believe more in the idea of simplicity.
For her it was a novel experience which was not novel in so many ways. The problems she has faced in her path of education were to be reflected in a positive way to people who are mostly critical about things and people as life has made them hard and brittle. Nothing else than poetry could have been a better elixir and that too coming from the pure heart of a kid. I still vouch on these kinds of experiences more than anything for my kids.