Guwahati: Residents of two remote villages in Assam benefited from a month-long student exchange program between a Salesian university in India and a college in Ireland.
Eleven students of the Department of Social Work, Assam Don Bosco University (ADBU). and eight students from the University College Dublin Volunteer Overseas (UCDVO), Ireland, renovated four kindergartens in Ural and Kachari Basti of Sonapur, Kamrup district.Between
During the June 13 and July 12 stay, the students identified the kindergartens, known in India as anganvadi, fitted them with tin roots, plastered floors and painted walls. They also fitted the floors with linoleum to give tiny children ha healthy and learning environment.
It was the second such an annual exchange program. Last year the program was held at Azara, Guwahati.
The program brought together “to channel their skills, energy and enthusiasm” into participatory development project to help marginalized and underprivileged communities, said its coordinator Jacob Islary, an assistant professor of ADBU.
His counterpart from Ireland Sarah Digby Kingston said the program helped create and provide space and opportunity to share learning and experience in the areas of participatory community development and social outreach.
ADBU student volunteer Bhim Lahary said the program helped “enhance intercultural awareness between students and communities for the purpose of increasing global solidarity and inter-connectedness.”
His friend Emily Lyon from UCDVO said the program “gave us a firsthand experience to appreciate the local culture, practices, and traditions. It was an immersion into an overseas culture.”
The program comprised fieldwork orientation workshop and session for the volunteers which had theoretical and academic inputs on community, culture, society and development accompanied by practical fieldwork – home, village and community visits by the student volunteers.
The volunteers organized English language enhancement classes for the community children, youth and women, capacity building workshop for 20 Self Help Groups and youth, conducted workshops on health, hygiene, importance of education, alcoholism, arts and craft, and livelihoods enhancement.
The volunteers also organized street plays in Sonapur market, puppet shows and skits on social themes such as need for education, prevention of school dropouts, alcoholism and domestic violence watched by huge crowds.
“The theme of the street play on alcoholism was very relevant,” said Niranjay Paul who was in audience at a street play performed in the Sonapur market.
The student group also mobilized the community people and organized a one full day of Cultural cum Exhibition Day of art and craft items created by the SHG women after the workshop in the village. Large number of people braved heavy rains to attend the program.