by Kenna DeChant
As a volunteer here at CRHP, I have been able to learn about and observe a wide range of programs over the past two months. Sundays, however, are my favorite because Adolescent Girls Program (AGP) happens then. Adolescent girls from neighboring communities come together to discuss topics ranging from dowry and gender equity to hygiene and infectious disease. Sundays usually begin with a karate class, led by two former AGP members, during which the girls get moving and learn self-defense. AGP is home to some of the most resilient and outspoken girls around. After karate, they eat my favorite breakfast of poha and are ready to start class. Surekha, a Mobile Health Team member and teacher, leads the girls in a discussion of their topic, followed by activities to help them apply the information. In the afternoon, there are usually more hands-on activities and discussions with questions, stories, and personal experiences. Throughout the day the girls also play games to keep their energy up, which might be more fun for me because I always get to play too.
Me and Surekha sharing chai during a village visit
One Sunday stuck out to me when we were learning about water and the environment. The girls and I got to plant various seeds in the demonstration garden because getting your hands dirty is always fun and then run over to the Science Center to examine different samples of water and plants under a microscope. Looking at water may not sound thrilling, but the girls were fascinated to learn about the microbes and creatures living in the water. Surekha, who has a degree in Zoology, oozed excitement as she taught the girls about the importance of safe drinking water. As a science major myself, seeing young girls get excited about science was gratifying, and I am convinced we have a handful of future scientists in this group.
One of the best parts about working with AGP is the chance to learn from the teacher, Surekha. She is one of the most hardworking, intelligent people I have had the pleasure of working with. Her constant excitement and energy is contagious, and it definitely is one of the main reasons the girls are so eager to learn. Surekha is a wonderful role model for these girls and shares her constant desire to continue learning. It is fun to help her with activities and inspiring to watch her patiently teach and encourage the girls to think for themselves and to participate. She always manages to include me in discussions, even though I do not speak Marathi. As someone who hopes to teach adolescent health education in the future, watching Surekha teach is a wonderful way for me to get experience and learn from someone who is so clearly passionate about teaching. Surekha and the adolescent girls are fun, inspiring, engaging, and always teaching me something new. I can’t wait until next Sunday!