The second year MSW students of the department of Social Work, Coimbatore campus along with Ryerson University students from Canada stayed at the tribal settlement of Komalikudi in Idukki District of Kerala from 6th to 13th August 2015 as part of the Live-in-Labs® program. The program was facilitated by Amrita Center for International Programs and AmritaCREATE (Center of Research in Advanced Technologies for Education). The students jointly conducted the following programs:
- The Sacred Grove Initiative and its underlying philosophy of developing respect for Mother Nature was the inspiration that informed and built the foundation upon which the team developed various activities and programs that were carried out during the weeklong program.
“The teachings of this sacred place can contribute to increasing self-esteem and a love for nature and us as human beings. By developing the beginnings of a "sacred grove" through the planting of four trees considered to be sacred among the village peoples of Komalikudi we felt that we could contribute to Chancellor Amma's own desires for the establishment of thesesacred groves all over India. Further, through the ancient teachings around the spiritual, medicinal and protective properties of the sacred trees we could help foster a healthy respect not only for the land and everything that is nourished by mother earth,but for others as well as ourselves. For example in the area of health awareness and teachings surrounding alcohol andsubstance abuse, the nurturing care required for these trees to flourish with the aid of clean water, air , sun and healthy fertile soil is not dissimilar to what we as human beings require in order to be healthy , whole, compassionate and respecting human beings,” shared the team.
General knowledge quiz was conducted for the tribal children to assess their knowledge on topics viz. family, body awareness, nutrition, comprehension. 23 students participated in the general knowledge assessment. 39.1% claimed that they have six or more family members living in their house. 8.7% claimed they have three family members living in their house. 65.2% of the children claimed they go to school 5 days a week even when it rains.
“In our post assessment we gathered that when it rains, fewer students attend than recorded actual attendance.100% of the children knew the function of their body parts including ears, eye, hands, feet, and mouth. 47.8 % of students were able to identify that apple was the healthiest food choice out of chips, soda, chocolates, etc. 8.6 % of students claimed that chips were the healthiest food option. 4.3% of students claimed that soda is the healthiest food option. 8.6 % of students were non responsive. 52% of children were able to comprehend pattern sequence (for example one mouse two mouse three mouse etc....),” they summarized.
Use of Tablets to learn the basics of Maths and English: The children learned basics of mathematics such as counting 1-20, subtraction (double digit numbers), multiplication and addition. In English, a large portion of kids learned alphabets, phrases, basic English questions and simple sentences from the English immersion apps.
Awareness Programs: Ill effects of Alcohol Abuse and Substance Abuse were taught to the children using storytelling, drama, mime, videos, etc. The children learned that one cannot see properly while intoxicated, repercussions of drinking,smoking affects respiratory system.
Building Friendships & Bridging Cultural Differences through Sport: Through football game for the adolescents they learned self-respect & self-confidence, teamwork & cooperation, organizational structure & dynamic problem solving. Team-based Learning also took place.