- KNOWLEDGE & EDUCATION
- HEALTH & COUNSELLING
- ORGANIC AGRICULTURE & BIO-DIVERSITY
- SKILLS TRAINING & EMPOWERMENT
- CREATIVITY & EXPRESSION
KarmMarg recognizes the need for Basic Education for achieving long-term goals for its children. However, instead of focusing on degrees, we at KarmMarg believe in education as a goal in itself.We offer five different avenues for learning and education –
- Formal education in schools for children already in the mainstream education system
- Open schooling for children who, for various reasons, are unable to attend formal school.
- Non-formal educationfor children who are over age, academically weak, disturbed, resistant to the idea of formal schooling or have language problems.
- Education for children with special needs
- Practical skills training and on-the-job learning offered by Jugaad
Additionally, in 2005, KarmMarg in collaboration and with financial support from Room to Read, USA, started a program for computer based learning. Thanks to this, the Home now has a fully equipped computer room where children learn and play through the medium of computers.
Also, with the support of its friends and using its own resources, KarmMarg started a small library as a knowledge resource for the children and visitors in 2006.
Mukti Foundation, UK, funds most of the educational activities. The Rug Company, UK, supports education for children with special needs.
When Ruby left the mean streets of Delhi with her two younger siblings to joinKarmMarg, she was only eight years old.At this young age, she had seen so much of life’s seamy side that she was completely different from other children her age. She did not speak Hindi, so teaching her language skills was our first priority. But two years later, when she was ready for class one, she found herself to be the oldest in class! In spite of other children teasing this strange older child, she continued to study. The school eventually allowed her to jump to a higher class, but she just found it too hard to adjust…
Eventually, Ruby decided to continue her studies through Open School with in house tuitions from Karm Marg. When she finally completed class ten against all odds, everyone was thrilled! But none more so than the girl who had come such a long way from the street.
Today, Ruby is a happy and secure person, undergoing training in screen printing and book binding at ShriAurobindoAshram, New Delhi.
Health and hygiene are critical aspects of our care-giving role at Karm Marg. KarmMarg has tied up with local hospitals such as the Primary Health Center, Khedi village (Faridabad), Bahadur Shah Government Hospital (Faridabad) and the privately owned Sarvodya Hospital.
Our focus is, as always, on preventive measures. Periodically, health awareness workshops and sessions are organized for the children and young adults at home and for rural women and teenagers. The topics vary vastly, ranging from HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis to personal hygiene, sex education and healthy eating habits.
Further, we continuously educate children about healthy eating habits and food hygiene. No outside food is allowed in KarmGaon. Even on festivals, we make our own sweets. In fact the children even make their own colours to play with on Holi!
At KarmMarg, we ensure that simple health issues are tackled with home remedies made from ingredients from our kitchen shelves. A recent workshop conducted by people associated with Shikashantar (Udaipur) has inspired us to make our own disinfectants, soap and basic medicines.
The trauma of life on the street or an abusive family forces the childhood out of a child quite rapidly and drastically. Even as these children slowly mellow down to a cool simmer at KarmMarg, the scars of the past on their memories are quite hard to completely erase, and this affects their present … often negatively. All kids who show such signs are given one-on-one counseling at the home, and in some more serious cases, they are sent out to specialist psychiatrists.
Children also receive career counseling to enable them to make informed decisions about their future.
The need to be self-sufficient led us to develop our own vegetable garden in Karm Gaon. Our children play an active role in growing food for their own tables, something which teaches them about their environment and the importance of nurturing it.
At Karm Marg, we believe that ultimately, each of us is responsible not only for his/her own health, but also the health of the environment that we all inhabit. So the use of organic farming methods was a perfectly natural progression. Today, all our children and friends affirm that the mint, spinach and other veggies grown in Karm Gaon are the tastiest they’ve ever eaten!
Empowerment through vocational skills lies at the very heart of KarmMarg’s philosophy. Most of this training occurs in-house, through Jugaad. Jugaad trains youths in skills that utilize the raw materials easily available in their surroundings to create products that are commercially viable. These include –
- Paper bag making
- Screen printing
- Tailoring and stitching
- Making jewelry
Most of the functionaries in Jugaad are KarmMarg alumni. They are responsible for all the administrative work, stock keeping, production and skills training. Moreover, children and alumni also market Jugaad’s products, managing stalls in exhibitions all over India. All these provide the children with invaluable on-the-job training in all aspects of running a business. It is no wonder, then that so many of our alumni have branched out with their own creative businesses.
Anish Bhatt came to karm Marg as a child, and has continued to be closely associated with it. He recalls how he started his own business,Koofsutra.
“I was always rather naughty and the constant scolding I received from Veena didi was mostly well-deserved. One day, as usual, I was being scolded. I listened, folding and rolling the paper in my hands, while Veena didi lectured on and on, and suddenly, the paper in my hands took an interesting shape… I had rolled the old newspaper into a long pipe, and twisted it over and over again to create a round disc. Later, I painted it with colour mixed with acrylic glue, and it hardened. This could make a cool coaster, I thought! The next day, after Veena didi’s temper had cooled, I showed it to her. She liked it so much that she ordered fifty pieces from me on the spot! And that is how Koofsutra came about.
Our sales have been quite good, and we have expanded to include some people from Karmmarg, along with ladies from a village near our campus in Faridabad. Our products – baskets, coasters, clocks, mats and photo frames to name some, retail in some niche stores like People Tree in Delhi.
Today,if I can look at life in the eyes, if I can hold my own amongst people much more educated than I, then it’s because of the guidance I received from Dev bhaiya and Veena didi of Karmmarg. They inspired me to make something of my life,and I tell everyone that whatever I am today is because of them!”
Skills training outside KarmMarg
Often, children express a desire to learn skills that cannot be taught in-house. For example, one of our older girls Shabila wanted to become a beautician. KarmMarg organized for her to be trained at a local beauty salon. Today, she runs her own salon and is also the night warden of the girls hostel.
Similarly, other children have received training in food processing, bakery, screen and book binding, carpentry etc from Shree Aurobindo Ashram. Others have gone to Swaraj University to learn film making.
Yet some more have found mentors amongst companies such as HaathiChaap and C Net, learning key skills on the job.
Karmgaon is a happy place, full of colour and song. All children here are encouraged to give expression to their creative urges, be they in art, music, dance, drama or writing. Right at the entrance, visitors are greeted by the sight of by the colourful handprints of the children on the gates. Inside, the walls are covered with frescos and paintings that the children and volunteers have made. Regular workshops on art, photography, music, dance, drama, pottery, film making and recycling enable the children to hone their talents.
Further, we believe that free expression of creativity and emotions acts likea gentle balm for the wounded psyches. For some of the children who come to us are too traumatised to even speak in the first few months of their stay, fun non-verbal forms of expression play a critical role in their healing process.