• VOLUNTEER REPORT - C. Lorelle Angelo

    Working at Shanti Bhavan has been both a privilege and joy. An institute such as this is a true piece of inspiration in today's world and remains to be a reflection of the very best we can be when faced with adversity.

    During my five-week stay at Shanti Bhavan as a music teacher, I was able to observe quite a bit with regards to the institute itself and how it is run. As well, interacting with the children augmented my understanding of the true base upon which this establishment is rooted.

    On the night of my arrival at Shanti Bhavan, as I entered the dining room for the first time, the children warmly welcomed me. Their friendly, cheerful dispositions and secure and confident manners is the best indicator that children lead a healthy life in all respects here at Shanti Bhavan. Though at first I worked about the lack of affection for the children due to the absence of parents, my fears were immediately clamed as I observed that the entire staff, especially the house mothers are very loving towards the children. Indeed, the children may be apart from their parents but they gain numerous surrogate mothers and fathers at school.

    I was also greatly impressed on the focus placed on keeping the children well rounded. This includes an emphasis in all areas of academics, physical education and development of character. While the children attend class daily, they are also allotted a specific amount of time for play and physical activity. As well, prizes are awarded on a weekly and monthly basis for Co-operation, Courtesy, Responsibility and Effort. This well rounded focus is immensely important of the development of children.

    Daily explanation of the international news is also an asset to Shanti Bhavan, as the children are not kept excluded from what is going on in the world. It is also a way of encouraging the children to think of new and effective ways to address world issues.

    The only suggestion that I would offer would be to increase the amount of positive feed back and praise given to the children, thereby decreasing the amount of disciplinary action needed. When disciplinary action is required, a greater focus on getting the children to understand why behaviour is inappropriate would be beneficial. It may be helpful to treat chronically disruptive behaviour as a need for reassurance and extra love. This should be freely expressed as opposed to isolating the child.

    On a whole, my time here at Shanti Bhavan has been most enjoyable and will be an experience that I will forever hold close to my heart. The generosity and care shown to me by all the teaching staff, housemothers, and maintenance workers truly made me feel at home and part of this Shanti Bhavan family. Truly this institute is far more than just a school, it is a way of life that nurtures children and encourages them to blossom to their full potential.

    C. Lorelle Angelo
    Markham, Ontario, Canada.

    31st July - 31st August 2001.

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