Kumaran Special School Program

Sponsoring nutritious and healthy everyday evening snacks for the 30 odd specially-abled children of Kumaran Special School since 2013.

About the Founder of Kumaran Special School
Ms. Senthamil Selvi, mother of two specially-abled Children, started the school herself after being disappointed with the lack of proper school for the special children in her located. She is successfully and energetically running the school ever since. Of course she loves every moment of her time at school and works dedicatedly to make her students self-reliant and to realise their potentials.


Manamadurai Student Uplift Program

About Manamadhurai
Manamadhurai is 8 hours away from Chennai. Manitham is an organization run by 2 motivated ex-gov’t teachers who have taken upon them to setup knowledge-centers across the 15 villages in and around manamadhurai which are truly backward in all stature. Coloring Lives in partnership with Globalscholar’s CSR initiative visited, interviewed, finalized a project to be jointly funded and operationized. The mandate was to pick the 5 most backward of the 15 villages and address student’s education related needs immediately.

These were some of the acute issues that the kids were facing in their villages and knowledge centers run by Manitham, which Coloring Lives decided to solve using this project.

  • Problem Power-shortage and absence of electricity during evenings and nights was a big issue for kids to do their homeworks and study during post-school hours. They gathered near candles or street lamps every day.

    Solution: Coloring Lives purchased Philips – quick-to-charge emergency lamps, which students could charge during day time for 3 hours and use it at night for their group-studies, homeworks for 5+ hours. 30 such lights were given for 5 villages. 6 lights per village or per group of 30 students.

  • Problem: Many kids did not have sufficient accessories and school was about to re-open after the summer vacation.

    Solution: Coloring Lives created an extensive Back-to-School-kit for 150+ students in the 5 villages and in person visited them, conducted magic-shows, interacted with them, made them have loads of fun and distributed the kits. The kit consisted of calculator, drawing/writing accessories, bags, map, log-book and 2 moral story books along with tiffin boxes, bottles and a slate/writing-pad.

  • Problem: The knowledge centers although were 15 in numbers 1 per village, there was only 1 village knowledge center which served as a HUB, which was computerized and had spoken-english tutoring for which many students walked/cycled 10-15 kilometers to attend the training.

    Solution: Coloring Lives decided to adopt 2 such simple centers and computerize them. Coloring Lives procured 10 computers from GlobalScholar’s old-PC-recycle-policy, fixed them, transported and set them up in the 2 centers. Soon the new 2 computerized centers will be launched.

Neduvasal School - Nutritious Free-Breakfast Scheme For 3 Months

S.No. Scheme Objectives Trackable Metrics Funding Requirement Contribution from Society
1 Navadanya 1. Reduce malnourishment among all schoolchildren
2. Decrease late attendance
3. Increase attentiveness
4. Reduce incidence of diseases
1. Late attendance to be reduced from current 20% to 0% within a few months of implementation of the scheme
2. Significant  improvements in the weight,height and hemoglobin counts (general health) of the children
Around Rupees 12,000 ( 2.75*70*20*3) every 3 months starting from June Some of the food ingredients will be sourced for free from the villagers and parents locally bringing down the per head cost to INR2.75 per head per day
2 Scholarship 1. Ensure continued of schooling of children from disadvantaged families
2. Provide support which will help the child feel less insecure / unequal in relation to others
3. Provide support to the parents directly
1. Continued schooling
I am not sure what else can be tracked in this case. It would also depend on the individual situation. We can formulate this after we decide which students we are going to help.
Need based –   currently Rs 8000 for the first quarter catering the needs of 20 students The local tailors and cloth retailers have promised for free supply of uniforms to the school children next academic year

Hastinapuram union middle school

Hastinapuram is a hamlet near Guduvancheri, Chennai. The road connecting Guduvancheri to Hastinapuram has been recently laid and public transport is available on this road.

On entering the school, we were pleasantly surprised to the see the beautiful garden that has been created in front of the school. Our guide on this visit was Chitra madam who skillfully juggles the dual responsibilities of school teacher and official at the department of education. Chitra mam then told us how goats and cows were posed a major problem when she conceived the idea of having a garden few years ago. One innovative boy from the school then came up with the idea of spraying the saplings with dung. His argument went like this, “Just like we are repulsed by our excreta, so will the animals too”. The idea implemented, they then waited for the goat which had feasted on the plants the previous day. The goat came and as hypothesized, did not eat the plants now. She recalled how they had waited for this moment and captured it on camera and celebrated their success. The next problem in creating a garden was to water the plants regularly. Students were assigned to each plant. While others dutifully watered their plants everyday, the innovative boy alone seemed to not water his plant. But his plant was the one growing fastest. Faced with this puzzle, and complaints from other students, Chitra mam quizzed the boy on why he was not watering the plant daily. He then showed her how he had buried a water bottle with two small holes in its bottom near the plant. He told her he only needed to refill the bottle every week, since the water was not wasted by evaporation at the surface. We were very impressed by the creative thinking which seemed to have arisen out of a class about drip irrigation in class.

We then went to a room which was theme painted by Disney. This was a result of the school winning the “Design for change” contest. Chitra mam and students from this school travelled to National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad to participate in the award ceremony. More details can be found in this newspaper article. Inspired by the remarkable good effects of this themed room on student learning, they had managed to get one more room also theme painted.

We then met the Headmistress of the school, Mrs. Sasikala. She told us about the need for a printer/copier for the school. Chitra madam told us how she had signed an MoU with Satyabama engineering college. This allowed her access to their auditorium and she had conducted a summer camp for the students there. She also got a grant from them for instituting an extra teacher in the school. She described how it was more difficult for her to get department approval for the new teacher than it was to get the position funded. She also told us about how it would be nice if we could institute a teacher for teaching extra curricular activities like dance, singing, etc. We walked around the green campus once and took our leave from the students who recited a tamil poem for us. We left with the satisfaction of having seen the great changes a highly motivated teacher like Chitra mam could bring to a school.

Nallambakkam union middle school

Nallambakkam is a village near Guduvancheri, Chennai. This village is dominated by a quarry which employs most people in it. Public transport hasn’t yet made it to this village.

Krishnaveni, the English teacher from the school, escorted us to the school from the nearest main road about 2km away. It required a lot of ingenuity on Karthik Anandaraman's part to navigate the difficult road to this village. The first thing we saw on entering the school was play equipment worth about 1 lakh donated by the Rotaract club. On getting down from the car, we got ready to take our first photograph of the school. We were swarmed by students who wanted their photograph taken. It felt good to oblige them on this request. We entered the 8th standard classroom and started interacting with the kids. Karthik KP asked each student to tell us their name, what they liked and what they disliked. The students surprised us by telling us not just their names but also their nicknames like Super Sneha and Ultimate Ajith. The students were inclined to answer “I don’t dislike anything.” But for the like part, they eagerly pointed out their best friends among their classmates. The students showed us how they use mind maps to jot down their thoughts on a topic and then used it to write a essay about a given topic. We also saw English activity cards which were written down on the back of a old calendar, an improvisation that resulted when resource constraints met the resourceful Krishnaveni teacher.

We then met the Headmaster of the school, Mr. Santosh. He told us that the school was instituted way back in 1924. He detailed us about how the school was experiencing dire water shortages for both drinking and sanitation. The students were forced to buy bottled water for drinking on days when the panchayat water was not available. Open defecation was common as the water for the rest rooms was also available only intermittently. The HM, then showed us the water pump donated by Cognizant Technology Solutions, to solve this very problem. The issue was the school only had a single phase connection and the motor was rendered un-functional due to the low voltage of 170V. He asked our help in fixing this most urgent of problems which he estimated might cost around Rs.10,000/-. The purifier installed by the government to provide safe drinking water was broken and he needed funds to install a new one.

He also detailed us about the need for new teachers for teaching the new English medium curriculum in the school. He proposed we institute a grant to pay the salary of a new teacher for the school. Krishnaveni teacher then told us about how the village had a high incidence of kidney failure among men. She told us how one bright student dropped out of school when her father died from this ailment. Our hearts went out to this unfortunate student and we wished we could have funded her to continue her education.

The school had a high enrollment of about 230 students inspite of these dropouts. What is more, the school had under the guidance of Krishnaveni teacher even won the prestigious International school award instituted by the British council for outstanding development of international learning in the curriculum. The British council award had brought the school teachers in contact with their London counterparts who visited the school. The teachers keep in touch with their London peers and keep a lively interaction about their learnings on how to better teach children.

More details in this news article.

The school has an active facebook page where you can find photos of the important events.

We left the school with a determination to do what we could to help these very energetic children and their resourceful teachers.

Uthiramerur union middle school

Uthiramerur in Kanchipuram district is about 83km from Chennai. We crossed the Sundaravaradaraja Perumal temple which is close to the very famous kalvettu detailing democracy in this town (Details) on our way to school. The school has about 140 students up from about 111 students last year.

On arriving, we had our lunch with Anbazhagan sir, the Headmistress of the school Santhanalakshmi madam and our guide, Chitra madam. During the lunch we were told how the teachers from the school had raised a so called “Puravalar nidhi” of Rs.78000/- from various donors in the town. The interest from this amount was used to sponsor various activities in the school. One such was the monthly science competitions which are co-sponsored by the NGO QED (Website). Anbazhagan sir had also got about 50 science exhibits from QED which are now used by this and neighboring schools to better teach science concepts to children.

Anbazhagan sir also told us about this visit to Japan as part of a collaboration on learning. He told us how he was very impressed by the punctuality and cleanliness of the japanese while they were very impressed by the teaching methodology of the indians. More details about the visit can be found here.

After lunch, we visited the classrooms for 1st and 2nd standard which was painted with pictures of various animals to create a jungle theme. It created a nice ambiance in which the students could learn. The painting had cost about Rs.14000/- which had been raised by the school teachers from various donors on their own initiative. Anbazhagan sir showed us the “Activity based learning” materials used for classes 1 and 2. He told us how an IAS officer Vijayakumar had originally brought in this new method of learning from Rishi valley school where it originated and made it mandatory across all schools in Tamilnadu in 2003. The activity based learning chart looks like a ladders game with achievements listed when a student completes all the tasks in a segment. Students get an activity card for each task and on completing it they receive the next card. The role of the teacher is to guide the student to understand how to complete the task on his current card. This means that instead of teaching once for a class of 20 students, the teacher must teach the same thing to each of the 20 students individually. The advantage is that this allows the students to learn at their own pace.

We were then taken to the school’s mini auditorium. It is a classroom with a printer/copier, projector and screen, desktop and laptop computers, and a webcam. A computer wiz kid named Bharath manned the entire setup and started recording the whole session using the webcam and projected it on the screen. Here we introduced ourselves and KP Karthik made a moving speech to students asking them to utilize these resources to the fullest and maximize their learning. The teachers from the school then introduced themselves. Finally we were told how the government had instituted a new programme called connected classrooms and gave the school a broadband internet connection. But now the scheme was dormant and the government had stopped paying the bills for the internet connection which was in danger of being discontinued but for the teachers self-contribution of Rs.5000/- towards it. We were told it would be a great help if we could fund the internet connection.

Anbazhagan sir also told us about providing some refreshments (biscuits, sundal, etc.) to students at about 3pm to increase their motivation for staying alert till 4pm. We left the school with the satisfaction of seeing a well run government school which gave the private schools in the area a run for their money.

Sponsor A Student

Coloring lives supported Ramya to complete her Masters in Social work from Layola college.

“This is Ramya the Masters in Social Work candidate whom you’ve sponsored for the last 2 years. A Glad news! I got placed with Coromandel International as Industrial Social Worker and am joining on 03.09.2012. Thank you so much for all your support…” “I am happy to inform you that i was awarded Best Student for my proficiency in scoring I – Rank for the academic year 2010-2011. Thanks a lot for being one among the motivating force which has enabled me to reach this level.”

A Brother and Sister from Yelagiri

Coloringlives support 2 kids for their education and boarding needs whose parents couldn't support their education.

“Both the kids have improved considerably both in terms of health and studies, the girl still has lot of room to improve but better than how she started. The boy would not got this opportunity to study and instead would have been doing daily chores, taking care of his ill mom and drunk dad. The boy finished his 10th board exam scoring 392 of 500 and is pursuing further studies.