Woodstock | Community Engagement
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Community Engagement

The Community Engagement Programme at Woodstock evolved from the initial response to the devastation caused by floods and landslides which struck Uttarakhand during June 2013. Immediately after the tragedy, Woodstock students raised money providing funds for three months of rations along with some basic household items for 1400 affected families in the area. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from the success of these efforts gave momentum to Woodstock’s community engagement programme.

DOST

The Development Outreach Student Team is a group of Woodstock students committed to the development of communities in and around Mussoorie. The students work in groups on specific projects which aim to better the lives of those around them and in particular, in the villages of Dunda and Nikurchi. Students work in collaboration with the members of the communities on these projects which are designed to be sustainable. Some of these projects are:

Woodstock Community Engagement - farmersFollowing our initial collaboration with Dunda village we realised that the villagers relied almost entirely on agriculture which is unsustainable; so, we looked at the possible alternative sources of income that they could use. Last Activity Week a group of Woodstock students visited the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) where they learnt about fish, poultry and dairy farming. As a result of this research, it was decided to invest in the dairy farmers of the Thatyur region. This Activity Week thirteen farmers went to NDRI with a group of students and staff members from Woodstock to learn good practices in dairy farming that are relevant to the mountainous terrain in which they live. We are now planning meetings whereby these trained farmers can share their new learning with other farmers.

Woodstock Community Engagement - vocational training for womenLast year in Dunda this project was successfully completed. 34 women were fully trained in how to sew garments on a sewing machine. The Woodstock project team created a memorandum of understanding with the girls of the village so that there was accountability for growth. If the participants demonstrated aptitude and skill over the course of the training they earned a free sewing machine at the end of the training period. In a show of support, male staff members of Woodstock raised funds to purchase the sewing machines through the annual Movember Moustache event. Since this project is now sustainable in Dunda we have been able to move on to our own campus. This year we will be training a group of Woodstock employees’ wives and hillside residents from low economic backgrounds, providing them with the opportunity to acquire a skill which will become a source of income or at very least help to clothe their families.

Woodstock Community Engagement - MahaveerMahaveer, of village Dunda, was paralysed from the chest down when a tree fell on him. We are involved in his physical, emotional and social rehabilitation. Funding for Mahaveer’s medical care and the renovation of his home to make it more accessible and comfortable, has come mainly through Chapel offerings. DOST is now in conversation with an NGO which has shifted from Delhi to Dehra Dun, where Mahaveer could go to receive training on how to become more independent.

Woodstock Community Engagement - E-wasteA seventh grade student of Woodstock realised that electronic waste in our area was simply being discarded to landfill sites. In order to protect the sensitive environment around us from the chemicals released by these devices which have the potential to seep into our water systems, this student and his team of helpers, contacted Attero, an NGO from neighboring Dehradun in order to organise the safe dispose of our e-waste.

Woodstock Community Engagement - Litre of lightSimilarly, a twelfth grade student of Woodstock discovered the value in teaming up with the NGO ‘Liter of Light Bangalore’ in order to light the streets of Dunda and the homes of Sippancoat slum. The plan is to use old plastic bottles found on Woodstock campus to create solar powered street and house lights, in the process ridding the school grounds of this waste. The plan for street lights came out of DOST’s discovery at Dunda that the villagers often walk in total darkness to their toilets which are situated at a distance from their main house. The elders and children in particular expressed their fear for snakes and leopards and also spoke about injuries from tripping in the dark.  This project aims to give these residents a sustainable source of guidance and safety. When the Co-Founder of ‘Liter of Light Bangalore’ visited us, and saw Dunda he suggested that house lights would be of better use in a slum area. Our students then suggested Sippancoat – the slum in Mussoorie. After further investigation, we have decided to proceed with both projects. 

Woodstock Community Engagement - KaplaniAt the end of 2014, students from Woodstock were disturbed to find out that only five out of thirteen students at MGVS School in Kaplani passed their tenth grade board examinations. Through various fund raising efforts, Woodstock paid for tutors in Maths, Social Studies and English. After only three months of tutoring, 13 out of 15 students passed in 2015! In addition to the need for tutoring, Woodstock students discovered other factors which contributed to poor academic performance. DOST has provided a computer lab and WiFi for the school and are now organizing training for the teachers on how to use computers effectively for student learning. DOST is also working on helping the MGVS School increase its science equipment so that all students can participate in science labs.   Through long-term involvement, we hope to see each student at the Kaplani School secure a place in a good college, job or vocational training centre

One of the main values taught at Woodstock is that of compassion.   A group of students has been visiting the Claremont orphanage every week to interact with the girls there. There is a lot to be learned from these relationships. The focus is on the development of the girl’s spoken English skills. More recently, this group of Woodstock students has been interacting with children of our own employees with the intention of helping them with their spoken English skills and in any other area where appropriate help can be extended.  Among many other things, Woodstock students practice their leadership, planning and organisational skills at this time.

Woodstock Community Engagement - SippancoatThrough an evolving multipurpose community centre at Christ Church, Woodstock students are helping tutor students from Sippancoat on how to use computers and to develop their spoken English.  Sippancoat is a community of families whose income is considered to be below the “poverty line”.  In addition to proving tutorials in English and computers, there is a plan to include lessons on hygiene, along with playing board games within the community centre.

Woodstock Community Engagement - waste warriorsThe mission of Waste Warriors is to find solutions for keeping our community clean and green. The group works collaboratively with students from St. John’s School to tackle the problem of litter and waste disposal.  They are also investigating sustainable solutions which promote the Swachh Bharat initiative by the current government.

Woodstock Community Engagement - Vishwa VidhyaThis Community Engagement project aims to spread educational opportunities in the communities surrounding Woodstock. This is being achieved by Woodstock students designing and implementing a rural education scholarship program for children in Mussoorie and the surrounding villages. This will allow students with high potential, but constrained by poverty, to pursue their right for an education.

Woodstock Community Engagement - Sanathan DharamThis group seeks to help the local Sanathan Dharam School to acquire a new auditorium. Woodstock students are facilitating the project by helping to raise funds and through suggestions on what features need to be included so that it becomes and efficient multipurpose hall. In addition to this focus, Woodstock students plan and carry out activities with the students of Sanathan Dharam with the intention of being able to understand and know each other.

The relationship between Woodstock School and Firs, a home for boys in upper Landour area of Mussoorie, is built based on the school’s principles of social justice and global citizenship. The relationship can also be defined as one of symbiosis. Interactions between students from both institutions accord each to get a deeper understanding of the other. Students from Woodstock mentor the boys from Firs in the areas of music, arts, crafts, drama and speech. The activities are, including but not limited to, musical note reading, music theory, and performance, drawing and creating small paper based handicrafts, communicative English, and current topics. In return, the boys from Firs share their backgrounds, challenges and future dreams with Woodstock students.  In the process, the Woodstock students gain a deeper insight into the needs and aspirations of those, who are less privileged.

Woodstock Community Engagement - SamvendnaIn the village of Dhana there is a small centre for children with mental and physical disabilities called Samvedna, which is part of Landour Community Hospital’s outreach programme. A group of Woodstock students visit the centre to play and work with the children on their basic literacy and numeracy skills. Through their engagement in this project, interested students from Woodstock’s Middle Years programme have an opportunity to understand the nature of different disabilities and suitable interventions.

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