Loving Kindness in Bangalore
SIF in-field volunteer teacher Joe Lim has his eyes opened during his time at Parikrma Humanity Foundation in Bangalore, India, mentoring disadvantaged children with behavioural issues or learning disabilities.
Former teacher Joe Lim is mid-way through his stint as a volunteer Primary level English teacher at a non-government organisation in Bangalore, India. He shares how his volunteer experience has both challenged and inspired him.
BY: Leong Wen Shan
Joe Lim, 39, a former teacher and environment worker, joined the Singapore International Volunteers programme in February 2013. He is now serving as a primary level English teacher at Parikrma Humanity Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Bangalore, India, which provides education for disadvantaged children. The school also has a Community Development Services team that acts as the link between the 26 slum communities it serves and the schools.
According to Parikrma, more than 80 per cent of all children have access to government-run schools, but a high drop-out rate means only eight to 10 per cent of the local workforce complete their government school education.
“My first month passed very quickly. For a start, I was tasked to mentor a group of wayward children that most teachers simply do not have time for, because of the huge class size. While the student-teacher ratio of 30:1 was to ensure as many of these children would not be left on the streets without an education, this sometimes also means the teacher struggles to cope. Some of these children have been detained twice or more times as they simply could not catch up with their peers.
“The children I work with often have behavioural and discipline issues, or have learning disabilities such as ADHD and dyslexia. This is compounded by the fact that many of them come from a harsh environment where beatings and fights are common. I was constantly surrounded by them as they would vie for my attention, something they do not receive at home. Many a time, they deliberately get into trouble to get attention. To me, they were desperate for loving kindness and compassion.
“Every single day was challenging, often due to the lack of space and funds. For instance, only students in Grades 8 to 10 have benches and tables to sit on during class. Grade 1 to 7 students attend classes by sitting and writing on the concrete floor. Brand new textbooks are a luxury and rarity, and I see many children without textbooks.
“Despite all these setbacks, many strive to break out of this cycle of poverty and ignorance in hope of a better life, never mind the constant power and water cuts at school and at home.
“The cheerful faces of the students and staff, despite the spartan facilities at the school, made me respect the principal, teachers, volunteers and school cleaners at Parikrma. They could receive better salaries teaching and working at private schools, but they chose to stick with Parikrma because of their conviction in helping the marginalised. I hope my work helps bring a positive change in these young lives.”
SIF volunteer Joe Lim will be teaching at Parikrama Humanity Foundation until April 2014.
Find out how you can get involved with volunteering here.
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