SAIIER Annual Report 2014-2015: Lilaloka

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Mitra Youth Hostel
Lilaloka


Introduction

The vision of Lilaloka (“the universe of Play”, in Sanskrit) is to be a Self-Learning Resource Centre for the Child. Lilaloka will offer various activities based on self-discovery and spontaneous self-learning through Play, which will allow the child to reveal himself as an individual and amongst others, without competition or judgement.

Lilalola will be open to all children, schooled or not, having difficulties or not, beyond all categorizations and allowing mixes of ages. The team of Lilaloka wants to work in collaboration with schools and parents, considering each child as an evolving being. Lilaloka’s Phase I building is currently under construction and the primary activity this year has been of fund raising, communication, project management and construction. In addition, some of Lilaloka members have conducted activities with children under the Lilaloka umbrella at various locations in Auroville.

Areas

1. Fundraising and Communications (Sandrine, Yvelise)
2. Lilaloka Phase I Construction
3. Occupational Therapy and Supportive Learning Facilitation
4. Nature's Theatre
5. Recreational horse-riding for differently-abled children


1. Fundraising and Communications (Sandrine, Yvelise)

Activities of the year

As Lilaloka is a project under construction, and our major activity has been that of fund raising, public relations, communication and administration. The activity consists of communicating about Lilaloka, creating communication tools, meeting people, organizing events, writing projects. We have developed our social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and enlarged our network to reach more people and other educational projects in a spirit of sharing of knowledge and researches regarding new ways of education in today’s world.

Regular guided tours of Lilaloka Land and its first phase building, still under construction, were organized, as well as meetings with the Lilaloka core team for interested people including AVI members, parents and educators from India and abroad, and donors. We also had a fundraising event at Sri Ma in Auroville on 24 January, organised by Lilaloka team members assisted by Rosi & Henrico (parents of one of the children interested in joining Lilaloka once the building is ready).

We have recently started to explore crowd funding options. Our leaflet (in English, French and Italian), our main document (in English and French) and our Lilaloka slideshows (in English and French) have been updated to include our new team members, the construction of the raw structure, new activities, updates about the needed budget etc. Links to download them have been added to the Auroville and Lilaloka websites. The slideshows have also been uploaded to YouTube.

Lilaloka posters and postcards (drawings by Emanuele Scanziani) continue to be displayed and sold in the Auroville Boutique at Visitor Centre. All proceeds goes towards Lilaloka project.

Outcomes

  • This year we were able to raise Rs. 8,91,638 from 16 main donors, which was utilized for certain construction expenses (road consolidation, electrical installation, water meter, panel to signal the construction) and for the running costs of Lilaloka.
  • AVI Germany published an article in their 2015 Newsletter about the Lilaloka project.
  • Auroville Radio interviewed Lilaloka team members and published two articles on the Auroville Radio website.
  • A Lilaloka group page was created on Facebook and a Twitter account opened, to allow followers, supporters and donors to be updated about Lilaloka activities and progress.
  • A new Lilaloka website was designed and went live in February 2015. The website allows new visitors as well as our existing friends to learn about the Lilaloka project, our concept, activities, team, location, listen to audio program, watch our videos, download our documents, contribute to the project and keep abreast of Lilaloka news.
  • Several articles were published in English and French in the Auroville “News and Notes” and Auronet as well, first to appeal for funds and then to keep the Auroville community informed about Lilaloka‘s activities and progress.

Reflections

We are exploring new avenues for fundraising within Auroville through SAIIER and the Resource Mobilization team, as well as within the Indian corporate sector for socially uplifting projects. The area of fundraising is strenuous and time consuming for the team, and we feel a need for a professional fundraiser perhaps through SAVI in the future.

Goals for next year

  • Fundraise 70 lakh rupees in order to complete the Phase I building. Find a fundraiser and resource people for fundraising.
  • Find an experienced administrator who can supervise accounting, coordinate with SAIIER, do some secretary and communication work, etc.
  • Apply to SAIIER for funding under the Five Year Plan.

2. Lilaloka Phase I Construction (Yvelise, Anna, Stacy, Rajan)

Activities of the year

Lilaloka Phase I construction started in April 2014. This year our work toward manifesting the building consisted in securing required permissions, project management, and providing the necessary support and documents. We worked on and completed the finishing stage drawings for the ongoing construction with the help of White Ant Studio, our builder Anan and our architect Sigi. We had many meetings with all involved in the construction to discuss the building, how to get the water to come to our land, and collaboration with our neighbors.

Outcomes

  • The construction of the main building started in April 2014 and we were able to prepare the site, lay the foundation and erect all the walls. However, construction was halted in December 2014 due to lack of funds.
  • We completed the full set of architectural plans and drawings for the finishing stage.
  • With the collaboration of our neighbors, L’Avenir, Water Service and SAIIER, we were able to secure a connection to water piped from the big tank.
  • Over the last two years, Rajan has been creating a plant nursery at his house in preparation for the magical garden of Lilaloka. The plants were recently transported to the Lilaloka site to start to prepare some sections of the garden.
  • With the help of Joël, a professional Geobiologist from France, the energy lines going through the building were rebalanced and this should provide a harmonious energy for the Centre.

Reflections

The Lilaloka phase 1 building, currently under construction, will provide an accessible infrastructure for children with different abilities to be able to learn alongside other children. Meeting with Rosi and Enrico who have a son with different abilities made us think even more about the accessibility of Lilaloka as well as the need for providing therapeutic and educational activities for children with different abilities.

So far, accounts and administrative tasks have been managed by team members, and we are now in search of an experienced administrator who can supervise accounting, coordinate with SAIIER, do some secretary and communication work, etc. This will allow the project holders to focus better on the project in itself and the activities with children.

Future direction

Our goal for next year is to finish the 1st phase of Lilaloka. This includes the construction of the main building (500 m2, accessible to differently abled people) which gathers several activities and a small kitchen for welcoming people and meetings. It also includes the realization of the magical garden.

Going forward we will implement: Play of Painting, individual play sessions, Occupational Therapy sessions, computer based self-learning, creative radio, Balamata playgroups, The Wonder of Development, guided relaxations, Nature’s Theatre, evolving games, initiation to fairy garden, recycled art, and a small library.

3. Occupational Therapy and Supportive Learning Facilitation (Stacy)

Activities of the year

Occupational Therapy involves one-on-one facilitation for a child using specific emerging areas of learning and development. The facilitation is based on clear assessments and observations of the therapist. This year Stacy of the Lilaloka team provided support to teachers on request from schools, by facilitating and screening in the classroom. This is done when there is an issue with a learner or family. Suggestions are then provided to the teacher. One-on-one sessions will only be able to take place once the Lilaloka constriction is complete.

Outcomes

  • Deepanam School: Made assessments of three children and provided advice to their teachers. Teacher training was requested as a long-term solution to address the needs of the teachers in relation to the children with different disabilities in the classroom.
  • Nandanam Kindergarten: Assessed 2 children by request and provided teacher inputs in context. Parent support was requested and provided.
  • The Learning Community: Gave individual therapeutic sessions weekly for one learner for one year. Participated in team meetings, and worked on an Individualized Education Programme with key people.
  • Aikiyam School: Continued with supervision and programme design for the Aikiyam supportive learning programme, for the 7th year running.
  • Outreach Chennai: Gave a presentation about multisensorial play and its importance in the early years. Also presented at the SAIIER building to 5 senior educators and an architect.

Reflections

Parent feedback in relation to the need of individualized supportive education:

“Over the last few years it has become evident that in order to maximize my child’s academic progress, he requires personalized, individual facilitation. Working together with his teachers in school and several of Auroville therapists we have put together a programme that aims to cater specifically to the individual and changing needs. His academic programme is highly individualized, and he works mainly alone or with a personal facilitator, this, within the context of the larger peer group, where each child is also each working on his/her individualized programme (thus giving him the opportunity to learn how to work in a group, while still addressing his specific needs).

Outside of the academic classroom he is having several one-to-one sessions covering a range of areas which are helping him with various fields of his development, as well as giving him the opportunity to form deeper and trusting connections with other adults with whom he can share about his processes and feelings.

I feel grateful for the input of each of these facilitators in my child process and feel that this has been a year of progress, which has fostered a better understanding of how to go about catering to the specific needs of this individual. I see the opportunities offered by Lilaloka to be potentially very enriching in this process of providing the child with individualized, specialized sessions that nurture specific needs, in an intimate and loving environment.”

Future direction

  • A goal for next year is to resume one-on-one sessions in an appropriately equipped room in the completed Lilaloka Phase I building.
  • The Teachers' Center has coordinated a series of sessions on supportive learning and special needs over the past year. Recently a suggestion emerged to create a teacher training programme for Auroville teachers. Stacy along with other trainers will be looking into this in the coming year.
  • There was a request to plan a workshop on the process of creating an Individualised Education Programme. Stacy and other trainers are looking into this.

4. Nature's Theatre (Anna)

Activities of the year

Nature's Theatre creates a playground where the one becomes the many and the many become one. With the use of a magic sacred tool and of our body, we discover the birth of shapes by constructing them in our own size. Through games, crafts, stories, theater and research we relate these shapes to their number, our self and our surrounding. It is an exploration of our place in the Universe.

(See separate report)

Outcomes

  • Had two sessions weekly with the two youngest groups of The Learning Community (TLC). The group size varied between 7 and 10 children.
  • Had a regular open morning for children of Auroville who do not attend regular school. The morning was open for children of guests as well. Parents so enjoyed what we were doing that they asked to join. There were seven regular participants, plus some temporary participants (guests) on most mornings. For this TLC gave the use of Base Camp’s art space.
  • Throughout the year did blocks of individual work with four Auroville children and two children of guests.
  • Throughout the year had contact with parents of differently-abled children to see what Nature’s Theater can offer.
  • Developed the documentation of Nature’s Theater.

Reflections

Positive feedback parents heard from their children about Nature’s Theatre initiated conversations on the work and the concept of Nature’s Theater. Parents and teachers asked Anna to give a presentation of Nature’s Theater and the idea behind it next year.

Through communication about the essence of playing with shapes with children I came to know about several Aurovilians who developed particular games on this subject. One example is Bhagawandas from Aquadyn who has games, stories and meditations on the six pointed star, the water crystal.

Future direction

  • For next year I will prepare a presentation of the material of Nature’s Theater accompanied by a photo collage of the work with groups over the last years. Confirmed presentations so far are for TLC and the Teachers’ Center.
  • I intend to develop, in cooperation with Dominique, the idea of the use and care of a piece of land in the park area bordering the Lilaloka plot. The idea is for Nature’s Theater to use it for the construction of geometrical shapes (like the star we built in the TLC Base Camp compound).
  • I hope to organize and finish all documentation, support material and ideas developed in the last couple of years for publication.
  • My main goal is to finish documentation and work together in the Teacher Center on integrating my work in the program of non-violent cooperative behavior and teacher training programs.
  • I will continue working in TLC and with individual children on request.

5. Recreational horse-riding for differently-abled children (Marianne)

Activities of the year

The horse is an image of strength, vitality and dreams. Interacting with horses enables a child to widen his possibilities and to develop new forms of communication and socialization. Horse-riding helps children grow in trust and self-esteem.

Outcomes

Marianne worked with two children with behavioral problems and learning difficulties. They achieved quite some progress: the one who had some speaking problems started to say some words, and the other who had trouble with concentration is now able to do a sequence of exercises without problem. Both of them are getting more at ease with their bodies. They do a lot of work on the ground together with the horse, so the children learn to concentrate as they have another being under their care.

Marianne was also very lucky to find Margaux who is a fresh and a young psychomotor therapist and a rider full of enthusiasm to help her.

Conclusion

A good website and social networking are very important for fundraising and sharing of knowledge. Our new website introduces the project in depth, allows visitors to download all our documents in different languages (booklets, leaflets, newsletters, videos, sound creations with children etc.), and keeps our well-wishers and donors informed about our progress, and links to our Facebook and Twitter pages. It has received a good response and our Facebook friends have increased steadily over the past year, enhancing our ability to communicate our goals and appeal for funds. It has also connected Lilaloka with several educational projects going on in the same spirit in many countries, with the AVI members, and also many parents and educators.

As the construction of Lilaloka building is currently halted due to lack of funds, we took the opportunity to guide interested people through Lilaloka Land, especially families who will be beneficiaries of the project and who feel enthusiastic about this new approach. It was very enriching to listen to their comments and needs as families who wish to offer a different experience of education to their children. To share with them about the concept of Play and Joy, natural and child centered learning, free choice and progress, mixed aged groups, non-judgmental and non-directive activities, and to answer their many questions and explore with them the options was very interesting. This direct contact with open minded parents and educators from Auroville and abroad, and with AVI members from different countries, emphasises the urgent necessity of this project and of the true needs it aspires to fulfill in today’s world.



External links

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Life Education Centre
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Mitra Youth Hostel