Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Courage to HoPE

For many of us, Hope is a four letter word. A word that only implies the courage to aspire for a better future, a better time, a better something.

But for a slew of some of the most talented children I can say I know of, HoPE is a way of life. They rely on phonemic intelligence, which is a scientific and brain-based education methodology that was created by Dr. Baskaran Pillai. And truly in keeping with what Dr. Pillai has envisioned, this could just about be the “most effective way out of the poverty trap”.

Dr. Pillai is a teacher, a thought leader and a humanitarian. His contentions are that a person’s socio-economic environment influences the development of their brain. “Growing up in a poor neighbourhood can impact a child’s learning ability, and their mental and emotional well-being in the long run.” He says. Phonemic intelligence can actually help change the neurological wiring of the brain, by relying on just phoneme sounds and their impact on different parts of the brain. “In a pilot study, the participants were made to listen and vocalize 4 sounds focusing on different parts of the brain. Using EEG (Electroencephalography), we recorded electrical activity in the brain and found profound changes with the use of each discreet sound”, said lead researcher Dr. Anbarasu Annamalai, while introducing the methodology of the study via Video.

The children themselves, all from economically disadvantaged sections of society, have demonstrated some of the most appreciable and positive results. Some of the HoPE Heroes, as these children are called, narrated real-life stories of how HoPE Learning Centers, an initiative by NGO Tripura Foundation, have enhanced their confidence and expanded their thinking.

Of the repertoire is the inspiring story of Sindhu, a 11-year-old HoPE Hero from Kannambakkam village. She readily gave her ticket money to an old lady whom she found abandoned by her son, while Sindhu herself walked back 10 kilometers to her home.

Another sweet story is that of young Jeevetha, a 13-year-old HoPE Hero from Puducherrymedu village, who wrote a petition to her District Collector requesting a bus facility for her village. Impressed by her leadership, the Collector passed orders for buses to be run during school hours. Now, Jeevetha and all the children of her village have no need to walk 6 kilometers everyday to their school!

The initiatives are simple, touching and only involve the easiest of interventions: that of human care. Children from economically disadvantaged social setting are not in that background by choice, but by circumstance. The impact of living in an economically disadvantaged setting can have far-reaching consequences on their minds and bodies. A bridge that helps them cross the difficult waters of the vagaries of a life of poverty is the Tripura Foundation’s activities. Thanks to them, these children have the courage to HoPE.

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