Monday is the one day of the week on which; if you walk into the library at 5 P.M.; you’ll find the whole team around.
Maybe not anymore. The team needs to deliberate. The weather needs to give us a break!
The monsoons are fast approaching, which ofcourse can only mean that MOP activity will have to slow down, unless we find sheltered spaces at the sites.
This weighing heavily on the backs of our minds, we decided to recky St. Inez as a possible MOP site anyway.
This site is close to the “home” where we started out in St. Inez. In fact, one of the windows would overlooks the area.
And so at the MOP hour, 5 P.M. the van pulled up to this settlement on the bank of the creek/nullah that runs between Campal and St. Inez.
Ask any Bookworm person, and they’ll tell you that the moment the red van pulls up at a site, the children come running….and it’s always been true!
This was not the case today. We had to park some way off and walk into the area. Like Pied Pipers wielding our books and the thrill of a storybook; Elaine, Megha, Shruti and I walked through the settlement.
I can safely say that the pull today was the story books. And the pull was strong.
In not more than 10 minutes, we had a comfortable group of about 20 odd kids. The books were laid out….the hands quickly made their pick…the stories were soon shared among the kids.
They loved going through the books. Such excitement as they turned the pages and followed the stories….either by the illustrations or the words.
The team was quite happy to sit and be part of the reading processes going on at that point of time. And the kids didn’t seem to mind either.
While all the girls very happily claimed a space on the mats, the boys were reluctant. Initially, they all stood around a bike, and surreptitiously took books as we passed them out.
Soon enough, they took to the additional mat we set out for them.
When the time came for the session to progress, we decided to move things around a little bit. It was STORY TIME!!
Elaine stepped up. “What do you like?” she asked them. “Mangoes. Chocolates. Dogs” Quick answers.
And their full attention was hers. All 42 of them.
I LIKE STARS! The kids at St. Inez like stars too!
Did we read the book aloud? Not entirely…they read aloud with us too!
In that sense, given the demography of the kids we’ve been seeing at MOP sites, St. Inez had its own idiosyncrasies. Here’s a site where the majority of the children are not preschool or just enrolled into school. These kids are already ready for more.
As is the natural magic of a good book, 2 pages in, the kids were already anticipating and venturing guesses as to what would come next.
Who knows “Twinkle Twinkle” Elaine asked them. And hands shot into the air; ready with the actions, set with the lyrics, supported by the tune.
Now, Megha stepped up. “Activity karenge??”
“HAAAAAAAAAN!!!” and they spun around on their seats itself, and 2 circles were formed. The boys on their mat, the girls on theirs.
The star cut outs were whipped out, and Shruti handed out the pencils.
The kids wrote their names on the stars and proceeded happily to colour them in with the crayons before them.
When they were done, they proudly displayed their stars to us, and to each other. They even showed the stars to the collection of parents who were standing on their respective thresholds watching the proceedings.
We gave them each a star sticker when they were done. “Because you came here and read with us.” “And agar barish shuru nahi hua, agle Monday milenge!”
We said this open heartedly and believing that the rain would hold up. But now, as I type this, I reflect.
Yes, it would be great to have a regular MOP site here. But what about the impending monsoon? Where will we find/ who will give us space that is covered? Will we be able to get funding for the site?
These are questions that need answers. In time, they will come. For now, the team is ready. And the book for nextweek will be selected and the lesson plan done.
Monday evenings will never be the same again.