Rashida Bakait | India Tomorrow
BENGALURU—`As you sow, so shall you reap’, goes the saying. And a school in Bangalore is striving towards sowing in its students not only knowledge but a good character, too, with a hope that the whole society can reap benefits from them in future. This is `Oasis International School’ which aims at nurturing students in a way that would not only help a child to excel in academics but also in ethics and integrity.
To implement this aim the school introduced ‘Yes, We Care’, a whole school community service initiative in the year 2015. The programme has completed over 35 projects involving 750 students every year. The mentor of this programme Dr. Ambar Khurram said,“The programme was conceptualized keeping in mind the school’s mission of making students conscious of their responsibility towards the less fortunate and creating opportunities to show empathy and provide a helping hand to all those who need it.”
She further informed, “the school has always recognized the benefits of community service as a learning approach. Considering the benefits of involving the parent community, the school invited parents of students from Grade 1 to 10 to be an integral part of this initiative and allowed them to lead this programme.”
Dr. Ambar pointed out that the involvement of `Parents’ in the programme made it a very unique initiative. Speaking about her experience of this programme, parent co-ordinator of 8th-grade student, Bindu Shanawas, said, “Parent leaders were thoroughly excited about the unique opportunity of having a forum to work on community issues along with students. They were empowered to bring out their potential in ways they never imagined.”
Dwelling on the projects undertaken in the last few years Dr. Ambar said,“Several projects under various categories such as environment, education, health, special needs, homeless, hunger and poverty-stricken people.”
As no programme can be implemented without funds, how did the parents and students raise funds? Nahla, one of the parent leaders of grade 10th student Owaiz, said, “Funds are raised through tuck shops and newspaper drives- for hospitals, blind schools, old age homes, orphanages, government schools, a school for special needs and even street vendors.” The students organized village health camps for slum dwellers, homeless street dwellers too.
Bindu Shanawas further informed that students were even exposed to a simple but important act of appreciating farmers, firefighters, army officers, school teachers, and helper staff.
According to Bindu, the academic year 2019-2020 witnessed the most remarkable project being carried out in the school called —Be Wise, Water Wise —where the whole school aimed to restore and provide efficient water supply to Kadusonapanahalli, a village about two kms away from the school. “The students of grade 8-12 collected funds of over Rs. 3.38 lakh through a platform called-Fuel a Dream-to implement this project,” informed Bindu.
Safa Mohammad, a grade 11 student associated with the project explained, “The project’s main aim was to restore the existing water canals to allow the free flow of water around the village and secure the independent sources of water in the village.” She further elaborated, “We participated in constructing the two recharge wells of rainwater harvesting system in the village. We also planted trees around the village school to help revive the groundwater flow. ”
Bindu informed that the students also installed soak pits near the canal which directs water to the lake in the village. “These soak pits will be useful to filter out the drain water, which would often clog and result in unhealthy and unsuitable living conditions for the people living near the water canal. Now, the restored canal will allow clean rainwater to flow to the lake,” said Bindu.
Hamza, a 9th-grade student hoped that their efforts would bring some change in the lives of the people in the Kadosonapanahalli village.
Dr. Ambar opined, “Our students have learned a great deal in the process. And this project gave them hands-on learning of the sustainable solution to one of the biggest crises facing the world today. Besides crowdfunding and problem solving, our students learned soft skills like empathy, collaboration, contribution, interaction, and above all a true understanding of service before self.”
Dr. Ambar said, “We plan to strategically link –‘Yes we care’- to Global perspective-a subject offered by CIAE (Cambridge International Assessment Examination) so that participation in these projects becomes very much an essential requirement at every grade and yet retains the flexibility of parent involvement and student centeredness.”