Holding a new book in your hands is a visceral experience, akin to holding a new baby. One that is a celebration of women determined to lead life to the full is more exuberant.
That is what my book NIRBHAYA & OTHERS WHO DARED is all about --- a pean of hope to combat the trauma of December 2012’s Nirbhaya. Add to that tadka of helping young students to achieve new goals and life suddenly become exciting.
When Nirbhaya started malingering with the publishers, I devoted myself an NGO, Balajanaagraha devoted to inculcating citizenship into young minds bored with the mind numbing civics textbooks. After days of rounds of school, four schools agreed to take the leap forward and I was getting up unusually early to trot forth to a different school every day of the week with my bag of tricks.
High point: two days after the launch of my new Nirbhaya book, on December 2, 2014 my students presented their civic projects, written and oral before a jury of three. They had surveyed a 200 m section of road and users of that road to arrive at the problems, their causes and offer suggestions for making the road more people friendly and efficient.
Amazing task for 13 year olds who put their best feet forward to offer amazing options from the virtual redesign of a slum on both sides of a road section, to enhancing aesthetics on a commercial street, to multi level parking to ease traffic congestion on a major city artery.
The results were equally amazing. One of the laggards made an impressive presentation with their slum redesign that saw their marks jump by 10%. Another made an excellent oral presentation but could not close the lead taken by the team that led with its impeccable and detailed presentation, complete with meetings with the municipal and police commissioners.
Very big deal for thirteen years olds who learnt so much from one of the jurors, Ms. Gauri Waagenar, a founder member of the Ahmedabad Traffic Consultative Committee who examined every aspect of their presentations and gave them invaluable tips for rectification.
All in all, an amazing learning graph for all, students, teachers and me as Balajanaagraha Facilitator.
Next stop: Mumbai for the Zonal finals!!